Chef has been at the forefront of the DevOps movement with its namesake open-source Chef project. Not all of Chef's platforms, however, have been open-source, with some available under commercial proprietary licenses.
On April 2, Chef announced a major shift in its company alignment, making all of its products available under the Apache 2.0 open-source license and revealing a new supported platform called the Enterprise Automation Stack. The move to being 100 percent open-source is an effort to provide more transparency and encourage broader collaboration. Rather than moving the projects to an independent, third-party open-source foundation and governance model, however, Chef will continue to lead and operate the projects.
"When looking at foundations and the shape of open-source, a big issue is deciding who controls and builds the upstream asset. As soon as you put software into a foundation, the foundation controls the asset," Adam Jacob, co-founder and CTO of Chef, told eWEEK. "One of the things that we're doing is aligning our own commercial interests with our interest in being the upstream that provides the project."
In a Medium post, Jacob provided additional insight into why Chef is moving to a 100 percent open-source model. Fundamentally, it's about not having an open-core model and the related confusion and complexity that often results. With open-core, a commercial entity builds its commercial software on top of an open-source project, with additional enterprise-grade features licensed under a proprietary model.
"Deciding what's in, and what's out, or where to focus, was the hardest part of the job at Chef," Jacob wrote. "I’m stoked nobody has to do it anymore."
Chef Enterprise Automation Stack
Chef already had three open-source projects, including Chef Infra for infrastructure automation, Inspec for security compliance and Habitat for application dependency management. The Chef Automate platform, which launched in 2016, was the company's flagship product platform for continuous application deployment.
The new Chef Enterprise Automation Stack takes Chef's product portfolio and creates a new integrated open-source stack for DevOps workflows. With DevOps, the basic idea is to enable developers and operations to work together in a more streamlined approach than having siloed activities. Corey Scobie, senior vice president of product and engineering at Chef, told eWEEK that Chef started out as infrastructure automation, primarily for configuration management for systems automation. Over time, he noted that people started to use Chef for other things, enabling an entire ecosystem of software deployment orchestration.
"We're trying to really streamline the way that we deliver a symbiotic set of technologies that really approach enterprise automation from end to end," Scobie said.
In the past, Chef's commercially supported products benefited from additional hardening and enterprise features on top of the open-source project base. Scobie said that with the Chef Enterprise Automation Stack, there is no additional proprietary code on top of the open-source projects.
"We're going to continue to drive the product strategy forward on trying to make it easier and simpler for customers to adopt our technology," Scobie said. "We want to help enterprises achieve the automation velocity they need to get to in order to stay competitive."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.