Monday, April 28, 2014

Recap of #ChefConf 2014

Recap of #ChefConf 2014

April 28, 2014
By  (
 Mike Kavis on Google+

I had the privilege of attending #ChefConf 2014 in San Francisco last week. The theme of the event was "Delivering Delight." The Chef speakers came out pumped up. They were loud, like the heavy metal music that played in the background (see playlist here), dropping f-bombs as adjectives to emphasize how jacked up they were about their new features and the packed, three-day agenda. They were also very funny, as you can see in the following video on DevOps featuring Chef Technical Community Manager Nathen Harvey. (Beware of the curse words, and don't play this at work without headphones.) 

New Features announced at #ChefConf

Chef announced some new features. The two that stood out to me were Chef Metal, an orchestration tool, and enhancements to Test Kitchen, a tool that helps run Chef code in isolation on many different platforms. There was also a lot of buzz about using Chef with Docker. Docker, a container technology, is drawing considerable attention these days. In addition to being one of the most popular topics at the conference, Docker was also getting a lot of airtime a mile down the road at the Red Hat Summit. The folks at Chef shared links to Docker cookbooks, which you can find here.

DevOps Is Hot

A majority of the talks focused on DevOps, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. GE Capital gave us a fantastic real-life story of a large enterprise that is making great strides with DevOps. It was nice to see a complex organization talk about DevOps instead of the normal web unicorns that most enterprises don't see as the real world. But as one speaker said, all unicorns started out as horses—meaning they went through a long transformation to get to the state they are in today. Here is the talk from Justin Arbuckle, Global Chief Architect of GE Capital:

You can't talk about DevOps without listening to Gene Kim and Jez Humble. Unfortunately I missed Gene's talk, but Jez's was as thought-provoking as ever. Jez concentrated on continuous improvement, stressing that everyone should be focusing every day on how can we make things better. Continuous improvement is not something you focus on only during a retrospect: you must focus on it daily. His presentation is below, and I highly recommend listening to it.

The brilliantly well-spoken Rachel Chalmers, a principal with Ignition Partners, kicked some butt and received resounding praise for her insights on currently applicable lessons from the industry's greatest pivots, how new ways of defining the problem domain are generating unprecedented value, and the importance of companies' internal social contracts—made explicit—as competitive differentiators. This is a talk well worth the listen.


#ChefConf 2014 was an excellent conference packed with a ton of relevant content. The majority of attendees were very excited about what they heard and about DevOps in general. Chef displayed a wide variety of insightful customer stories from large enterprises. In a space where there is a lot of competition (e.g., Puppet, Salt, Ansible), Chef is well positioned in the enterprise and continues to listen to its customers and enhance its product. I expect we will see even more delights leading up to #ChefConf 2015.

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