Today is 10 years from the day that Chef became a company (at the time, as OpsCode). What started as a consulting company with many of my best friends (Nathan Haneysmith, Barry Steinglass, and Joshua Timberman, our first employee), eventually became the Chef we all know and love. Jesse Robbins saw what we were doing, and was the first person to truly believe in it, and inspire us to be more than we thought we could be. He was soon followed by Christopher Brown, who is one of the finest engineering minds I have ever seen, which gave us both the benefit of his intelligence and skill, but also the confidence boost that someone so talented would want to join us.
If it wasn’t for those people coming together at that time, there would be no Chef. I want to thank them so much for the opportunities they have given me, and for what we created together. There are so many other people to thank, not the least of which is my incredible partner and CEO for half this journey, Barry Crist; but to avoid this blog post being the longest in history, I just want to say: thank you to everyone who has used Chef, built Chef, and loved Chef.
When you start a company, you’re pretty sure you have a line on what kind of company it will be. You have an idea of what the product is, who will use it, why they will love it. How it’s different than anything else in the market.
Certainly we had that. So you take it out into the world, hoping people will feel about it the way you do. Some people do – and bless them, they become the people whose feedback sustains you. Other people, not so much. In the grand scheme of things, we are deeply privileged to do the work that we do – but that doesn’t mean we don’t suffer sometimes.
I know what it feels like to struggle with the software I rely on. From the beginning, what has defined the Chef community is that sense of shared understanding – we have existed to lift each other up on those bad days. To help each other do more than we thought we could, to transform our day to day work as systems administrators, as software developers, as leaders. I wish that I had a way to help everyone, all the time – because nobody gets through life alone. We all need a community around us, who care about us, who share our burdens, who struggle with us, and who can celebrate together when we finally triumph over our adversity.
That spirit of caring is the heart of what has made Chef great for the last 10 years. It was there the moment the IRC channel crowdsourced a recipe for a lost soul to cook on a first date, it was there when Jesse saw the business we could build. It was there when Christoph Hartmann and Dominik Richter invented InSpec, because they knew how hard it was to do compliance in an automated, holistic way. It was there when DevOps was invented, when the zeitgeist of Web 2.0 started making its confusing and messy way through the enterprise. It was there when, two years ago, we started looking deeply at how the difficulties inherent in application development and deployment could be solved, and built Habitat. It was there when I saw the faces of a “legacy” app team (and by legacy I mean the apps that actually run the company) realize they could have nice things too when they first saw Habitat.
As the industry has grown and changed over the decade, so too have the problems we face together. We’ve gone from server provisioning, to infrastructure as a service, to platforms as a service, to containers as a service, to functions as a service. When people ask me what Chef is, and why we are here, my answer remains the same: we are here to help people solve the infrastructure and application problems that make their days worse. When we have stayed focused on that, and listened to how people feel, and what they need, we’ve been the best company anyone could ever want to be a part of. This is why we continue to lead with new products, shifting our own orientation from infrastructure alone to encompass both compliance and applications.
I’m so proud to be on this journey with all of you, and to be lifted up every day by how much you care about each other. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me every day for the last 10 years to learn more about you, about your struggles, and to try and build software for you that makes it better.
When I look forward to what the next 10 years hold for Chef, I see so much opportunity. We’ve learned so much from each other in the last decade. We have so much work to do in improving how applications are built and managed, how we adopt new technology, how we will embrace new infrastructure paradigms to build systems we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. Chef, Habitat, InSpec, and Automate will continue to focus on you – on how to help you grow and evolve, defining the future together. We’ve got incredible things cooking (if I can’t use that pun, who can?), and there is a lovely future ahead.