An Opscode year in review

Like most open source projects, Chef began with an itch. From a small group of friends and colleagues, a band of system administrators who wanted a better way to build infrastructure, we have grown into a large and supportive community. In 2011 alone we’ve seen our contributor list double for both individuals and corporations from a year ago.

  • Opscode’s community site grew to over 11,000 registered users and 380 community cookbooks supporting everything from Apache to Zabbix.
  • Over 500 people and 100 organizations are contributing to Chef, with release MVPs.
  • We ran our very first Opscode Community Summit which was filled to the max with over 110 people passionate about the future of Opscode & Chef. It was quite moving to have so many people come together who cared about Chef so much!
  • We’ve had an amazing time teaching people about Chef in our training programs, and will have major announcements in the year to come as the training expands.

The community site has received some long-awaited love this year, most notably with the addition of a source code browser. We also had our first cookbook contest which showed a dedicated and creative set of users out there solving interesting engineering problems with Chef.

This year saw the release of Chef 0.10. This release of Chef introduced the concept of environments, making it much easier to maintain configuration separation between production and other environments while supporting and encouraging other environments being produced by the same process. Paired with DevOps culture, this helps reduce issues with a different environment when software passes from development and testing into production infrastructure.

Chef 0.10 also introduced encrypted data bags and knife plugins, among other things, providing for increased utility, flexibility and functionality. The Chef Community has fully embraced plugins, actively creating Community Plugins for chef, ohai and knife – each a specialized delivery of particular functionality that can now be repeatably used and conveniently shared. Opscode utilized the plugin feature directly, providing a Knife Windows Plugin for bootstrapping Windows systems using our powerful knife command line tool, in addition to specialized plugins to provide for automated Launching of Cloud Instances with knife.

Opscode continued progress from the significance of 0.10, and are now at Chef 0.10.8: where we gave our fellow Windows Systems Administrators a leg-up in the devops cultural revolution. This release culminates a significant increase of Windows users of Chef this year, which also included our release of an Chef Client Installer for Windows. There are members of the community already deploying this installer using group policy and teaming it with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to enable bootstrapping bare-metal into fully functional servers. This pattern prevents traditional dusty and broken build documents for meat-cloud built servers as well as golden-images with an uncertain past.

Opscode Hosted Chef experienced organic growth throughout the year. As the user base of Hosted Chef expanded, Opscode responded to the growth by streamlining the management of search indices – resulting in average commit times being cut in half and merge commit times were reduced ten fold. We also upgraded the API Endpoints, and following migration of organizations to the new endpoints, saw standard response times halved from their pre-migration level.

Beyond those engineering efforts to sustain Hosted Chef scalability and reliability, Opscode Hosted Chef customers also benefited from the establishment of Enterprise Support, with Opscode offering an industry-leading Service Level Agreement for cloud infrastructure automation, including 24x7x365 support plans. Hosted Chef customers are receiving solutions to questions with a median response time of 35 minutes and a median resolution time of just over 4 hours for resolution of complex implementation and support issues – and continuous quality improvement is the goal.

Speaking of continuous quality improvement, the Chef Wiki underwent a fairly extensive redesign, restructuring and update throughout 2011. The result is a substantially improved and more useful set of documentation for Chef users, with further enhancements to product and support documentation both planned and in work for the new year.

It hasn’t all been evolutionary growth – there has also been a platform revolution! Opscode unveiled Private Chef for the Enterprise, providing for a highly available, dynamically scalable, fully managed and supported automation environment behind the corporate firewall. We’ve also been honored to have Chef included in both the OpenStack project and in the tools around it like Crowbar in partnership with Dell and Rackspace. We are excited about the future of these projects and honored to be a part of them.

And all of this is just a portion of the fantastic year that 2011 was for Opscode, Chef, and the Chef Community!

Looking back, it is amazing and inspiring the distance that we have come since Chef was introduced and Opscode was founded just a few years ago. And that is nothing compared to what is planned for the future – and what we can all accomplish together.

Thank you to all of our customers and the wonderful open source Chef community for 2011… Welcome to 2012!

Author Bryan McLellan