Inside the new AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate service

We’re excited about this morning’s announcement at AWS re:Invent unveiling the new AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate service. This service helps anyone get started quickly with Chef Automate in a low-risk low-friction way with all the benefits you’d expect from any native AWS service. This launch is the result of a tight partnership between Chef Software and AWS. We’re all very happy to be able to share this news with you.

In case you missed Werner Vogel’s keynote, AWS OpsWorks now has a new native service powered by Chef. “AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate” is a new service in the AWS catalog and it is available today, right now, ready for you to use. As with any other native AWS service, you can start it from the AWS Management Console or from CLI tools.

Who does this impact?

The new service introduces important changes for two specific sets of users: existing OpsWorks users and current non-OpsWorks Chef users.

For existing OpsWorks users, the OpsWorks service you previously knew is now available as “AWS OpsWorks Stacks”. AWS OpsWorks Stacks was built on a forked version of open-source Chef and operates in a serverless mode. As a result, historically, OpsWorks users haven’t been able to use the full ecosystem of Chef tools (e.g. test-kitchen, community cookbooks, etc). Recently AWS OpsWorks made many improvements to ease the gap, but significant barriers remain. That mode of operating is still available as AWS OpsWork Stacks.

For Chef users, this means you now have a low-friction and low-risk way to get started with Chef Automate. Chef Automate is our commercial offering that works with our open-source solutions: Chef, InSpec, and Habitat. AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate gives you a push-button way to make commercial features available on top of your open-source tools with pay-as-you-go utility pricing and all the features you would expect from an AWS managed service. You can use it to manage your infrastructure regardless of where it lives: on-premises or AWS, it doesn’t matter.

What do I get with AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate?

Fundamentally, the software bits that power on-premises Chef Automate are the same bits you get with AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate. The difference in OpsWorks is that AWS manages the service for you by providing initial deployment and configuration of the Chef Automate software, automatic backups, a built-in restore mechanism, and automatic software updates. This is a managed Chef service that is supported by AWS. As with any AWS service, that includes pay-as-you-go pricing so you only pay for what you use.

The service includes a configured installation of Chef Automate and Chef server on the same underlying EC2 instance. You may choose to use the included Chef server or, if you’re already managing your own open-source Chef server(s) elsewhere, you can add as many external Chef servers as you’d like. The Visibility features of Chef Automate will work automatically if you’re using chef-client 12.16.42 or newer (older clients require configuring data collection). The Compliance features of Chef Automate are available by storing profiles on your Chef Automate instance and retrieving them using the ‘audit’ cookbook. The Workflow features of Chef Automate require setup of additional build nodes and use of Job Dispatch for remote execution.

Getting started

The Starter Kit generated by AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate includes a README with some basic exercises to get started. A deeper dive into working with Chef Automate can be found in the Learn Chef AWS Opsworks for Chef Automate tutorials.

How do I get it?

At launch, AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate is available in three regions: us-east-1, us-west-1, and eu-west-1. From the AWS Management Console select OpsWorks and you can get started using AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes for you.  There are many enhancements already in the works, but we’d love to hear your feedback.

Author George Miranda

George is a Product Marketing Director at Chef. He worked in webops for over 15 years at a variety of small dotcoms and large enterprises before delving into DevOps and Infrastructure as Code. He enjoys being a technical advocate and discussing effective solutions. He's an automation junkie that lives to help others solve problems and would love to help you solve yours. He lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a sucker for artisanal whiskey.

  • Umang

    You mentioned adding existing chef servers into Opsworks instead of launching new server. Can you provide more details?