Chef for Windows

Chef is a powerful automation platform for configuring and managing your Windows-based servers, whether they're on premise or in the cloud. Instead of roll-your-own management solutions, use Chef to transform your infrastructure into code.

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Manage Your Windows Servers with Chef

As code, your infrastructure is versioned, repeatable and testable, just like applications. Code gives you:

Accountability

Because it's tied to a version control system, you'll have a complete log of any changes that were made to your infrastructure. No more reverse engineering when there's trouble - the version control system tells you immediately what the latest change was.

Stability

If there's trouble, you can easily roll back to the last stable state. If real disaster hits, an executable blueprint of your entire network is safely stored in your source code repository.

Repeatability

Say goodbye to manual procedures and ad hoc tweaks that are risky, error-prone and undocumented. Standardized, automated procedures in Chef cookbooks make managing your Windows infrastructure repeatable and predictable.

Testability

When your Windows infrastructure becomes code, you can test it, just as you would any other software. Just as you verify that an application behaves as intended before you release it, you can do the same with changes to your infrastructure.

Reduce Reliance on Golden Images

Are you tired of maintaining golden images that go out of date quickly and are hard to manage as your network grows? With Chef, you can easily start from a base operating system and then automatically bootstrap the configuration you actually need.

Built in Windows Support

Chef is a true Windows native. It's fully integrated with Windows technologies such as Active Directory. You can easily run PowerShell and batch scripts from within Chef recipes. You can:

  • Read, create and write registry keys.
  • Run configuration tasks using either 32-bit or 64-bit processes.
  • Use WMI for logging and tracing.
  • Apply fine-grained permissions using Windows security groups.

The Chef client runs as a lightweight Windows service for easy monitoring.

Configure Heterogeneous Networks

Chef views your network as a unified system, whether all of your servers run Windows or whether Windows provides just some of the services in a larger, heterogeneous network. When you add a node to your network, Chef uses search-based configuration to add intelligence to the configuration process.

For example, cookbooks that configure a new server automatically access the IP addresses of all of the other nodes that communicate with that server. The Chef client runs periodically on neighboring nodes and makes the necessary adjustments to their configurations so that they recognize the newly added node. In other words, Chef configures networks, not just individual servers.

Build cross-platform skills

Once your administrators know Chef, their skills work cross-platform. They'll be adept at managing a network of heterogeneous machines. As Rob Cummings, infrastructure engineer at Nordstrom says, "We have Unix engineers now happily automating Windows."

Scale with ease

Chef scales to any size network. Whether you manage 5 Windows servers or 500,000, Chef can automate how you configure and deploy your network. Companies as large as Facebook have adopted Chef for production automation.

Harness the Power of the Chef Community

If you're running Windows, Chef and the Chef open-source community have done a lot of the work already. There are many Chef cookbooks already available for configuring Windows servers. These range from small, workhorse utilities to complex, multistep procedures that do big jobs like automatically performing a complete WordPress or Drupal installation. Whatever you're looking for, there's a good chance you'll find a cookbook for it. You won't be reinventing the wheel.

Get Started with Chef

Want to learn more? The best way is to start playing.

  1. Sign up for a free trial of Enterprise Chef.
  2. Get hands on with Chef quickstart guides on #learnchef.
  3. Take a look at some cookbooks.
  4. Take a look at the documentation.

If you want a little help getting up to speed with Chef, try our Chef Fundamentals training.