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Chef Automate (First 10 nodes free)

Chef | 1.8.85

Linux/Unix, CentOS 7.2 - 64-bit Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

Reviews from AWS Marketplace

18 AWS reviews

External reviews

39 reviews
from G2

External reviews are not included in the AWS star rating for the product.


4-star reviews ( Show all reviews )

    Wil W.

It never uses any type of human-readable interface. Therefore, you don't have to go into a GUI nor use a command line tool.

  • January 15, 2019
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

We use it for provisioning and ongoing configuration management. We provision boxes with Chef by taking a base AMI that already has Chef installed, and already has the appropriate credentials to connect to the main server. Then, this will be able to roll out and deploy the configuration. In addition, it runs every five minutes, so any unexpected changes to the configuration get automatically reverted.
This means, you get developers, who go into the box and change something, thinking it will be okay. Then, they come to you, asking "Why isn't this change that I'm making working?" We have to explain, "Because it shouldn't be going into the box in the first place."
How has it helped my organization?
One thing that we've been able to do is a tiered permission model, allowing developers and their managers to perform their own operations in lower environments. This means a manager can go in and make changes to a whole environment, whereas a developer with less access may only be able to change individual components or be able to upgrade the version for software that they have control over. This allows us to return some of the control back to the developers, which saves our nights and weekends.
What is most valuable?
One advantage Chef has over Ansible is your operations can be entirely headless, meaning that they can interact directly with the Chef database using shared credentials. It never uses any type of human-readable interface. Therefore, you don't have to go into a GUI nor use a command line tool. You can hit the database directly with a library.
With Ansible, a lot of the operations require that you have some type of frontward-facing tool in order for it to perform, e.g., command line or a GUI available. For a smaller scale operation, if you're managing fewer than 100 nodes, this might be fine, as it might be more helpful if you can transfer some of the power over to your developers in order to perform certain operations.
However, if you're handy enough with DSL and you can present your own front-facing interface to your developers, then you can actually have a lot more granular control with Chef in operations over what developers can perform and what they can't.
What needs improvement?
One of the biggest things that I miss is in Chef 11 and earlier, organizations were able to be managed directly through the Chef control command line utility. Now, while we prefer to interact directly with the database, there is still some value in being able to have access to the command line utility. While that functionality is still present and in the documentation, it has been broken since Chef 12. We are now looking at Chef 14, and they already have Chef 15 in the pipeline, but there appears to be no effort to fix this functionality, which is definitely broken, provides a false positive for a result when you perform the operation, and doesn't work.
It would be nice to have an update to Chef Zero, such that it was more geared toward containers. Before Docker took hold, there was something called Chef Zero Vagrant, which was a plugin for Vagrant which would provision your developer's local copies of their environment for local testing. This was great for the technology, but we haven't seen an evolution of it now that the containerization technology has moved forward.
For how long have I used the solution?
More than five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It all seems to be very solid and stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have rolled out around 500 nodes. Part of the reason why we have stuck with it is that it managed to effectively scale with us and stay stable at the same time.
How is customer service and technical support?
I've contacted them before about the same issues that I have mentioned for improvement. Because Chef is being developed by a hybrid team of open source contributors, as well as the Chef core team, I am not sure my communications have gone to the right people yet.
What about the implementation team?
The integration and configuration of AWS within our environment is a whole other skill set. Any configuration management or infrastructure as code will be a learning curve. Integrating it requires rearchitecting, not necessarily of the design, but certainly of the philosophy by which you approach. That is part of the benefit of it as well, you can develop a new way of thinking among the developers who will assist in producing code, which is automated, scalable, easier to write automated tests for, etc.
I don't know if it can be made easier in the adoption of it, since it is already a significant change, which is a good thing.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
When we're rolling out a new server, we're not using the AWS Marketplace AMI, we're using our own AMI, but we are paying them a licensing fee.
We went the AWS route because we are fully cloud-based anyway. It was something that people who came before me were already familiar with, so it was a lot easier for me to get buy-in.
The price per node is a little weird. It doesn't scale along with your organization. If you're truly utilizing Chef to its fullest, then the number of nodes which are being utilized in any particular day might scale or change based on your Auto Scaling groups. How do you keep track of that or audit it? Then, how do you appropriately license it? It's difficult.
All you can do is communicate with them what's happening and get something that you're both comfortable with. However, if you're doing that, then what's the point of having the per-node model in the first place? It would be better to move to a fixed-pricing model.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We have also looked at Ansible, Puppet, and SaltStack. They all sort of have managed solutions which you can potentially purchase. Puppet definitely has a sort of old school thought process working behind it.
Over two to three years, we have not seen a stable release of Salt. They have some good ideas, but it isn't stable enough yet to use in a production environment.
Make sure that the operations crew has a background in Ruby, if you're going to choose Chef. If you have a Python crew, then look at Ansible as a potential option. Because I think they're catching up, and they will surpass Chef in pretty much every way sometime in the next 12 to 18 months.
Though, Chef Automate is still the most reliable solution.
What other advice do I have?
At the top level, it is integrated with Terraform, which is delivering whole entities and groups of nodes. Then, those nodes are individually being provisioned with Chef. The integration is seamless.
I've run my own Chef server before. We've done completely headless with Chef Zero, where we're distributing the code directly to box during provisioning. We've used Chef pretty much every way that it can be used.
The AWS software is good. There is definitely value for somebody who is trying to understand it and be able to have a deployment of it for observation. Coming into it, there's a lot to understand, as with any technology.


    Mike S.

It streamlined our deployments and system configurations across the board rather than have us use multiple configurations or tools

  • January 08, 2019
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

It's for deployment and configuration automation.
How has it helped my organization?
It streamlined our deployments and system configurations across the board rather than have us use multiple configurations or tools, basically a one stop shop.
You set it and forget it. You don't have to worry about the reliability or the deviations from any of the other configurations.
What is most valuable?
Its versatility is the most valuable feature. It's not necessarily the end all or be all solution for configuration management, deployment, etc. However, for what we use it for, it fits right in and it doesn't bloat our infrastructure (or any of our instances) that we deployed to.
What needs improvement?
The compatibility with the different platforms that we are using needs improvement. We are mainly a Linux shop, but for a lot of ancillary Windows services that we were bringing in from vendors of third-party customers and things that we are using for the supply chain that we were running, Chef did not necessarily fit across the board for what we are doing there. In-house, the product has been pretty functional for us.
I would like them to add database specific items, configuration items, and migration tools. Not necessarily on the builder side or the actual setup of the system, but more of a migration package for your different database sets, such as MongoDB, your extenders, etc. I want to see how that would function with a transition out to AWS for Aurora services and any of the RDBMS packages. If there was something that was automated rather than through the package of the database system itself, this might aid us for a lot of DR stuff, resiliency, multi-region, etc. Especially when consolidating from a lot of on-premise stuff to cloud services, this functionality might improve our rate of deployment.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We had high uptime for it. We didn't have too many issues with the releases and the versioning that they have beeen putting out. Mostly, everything went smoothly even with major foundational changes. Overall, anytime you're doing a foundational change, there will be some growing pains, and you expect that with any tool set.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is decent. Our environment has over 3200 nodes for production and lower environments. We haven't had too many problems with load or scale. When we did have issues, there were always additional resources we could deploy to scale wide or horizontally. We could also up the instant size depending on what the machines were doing.
How is customer service and technical support?
We did use technical support, but not on a regular basis. We use our contact there, our account manager, who is always readily available, if not over the phone, by email. We either open up a ticket with them or contact them directly, and they go ahead and research the issue, then get back to us with their findings.
How was the initial setup?
The integration and configuration of the product in our AWS environment was functional at the time. I didn't get to do the migration after the production environment. However, everything up until then, we had handled in our lower environments. It seemed to work as described and within the confines of what we were dealing with, and it was functional for us. I just never got to work with it in the production realm.
What was our ROI?
I have seen the ROI, but it was brief. It cut down on our workload. We supported 36 to 38 development teams with a team of six DevOps engineers. We had embedded DevOps personnel within their teams. It could have gotten to the point where we needed individual DevOps personnel for every team, but Chef allowed us, as a group of five, depending on the time we were there, to reach out to them individually, and help them on a one-to-one basis. At the same time, we provide a center of excellence for best practices. This easily could've scaled to each team needing their own direct support person, but with the ability to manage these configurations through Chef, it allowed us to hand them their best practices straight across the board. Therefore, we didn't have to go ahead and drop in on each team and help them through their migration practice.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We also looked at Puppet, Ansible, and Jenkins. Chef rolled things into one for us with the way that they were running their deployments.
It was more of a one stop convenience going with Chef. A lot of the features, plugins, and compatibility items that we were looking for were already bundled into the package. Rather than piecemeal things together with the other services, we directly went with Chef to make sure it was a smooth, functional package for us. We went with Chef and its suite of tools to manage things more centrally.
What other advice do I have?
Make sure when you are tooling that what you are trying to create is functional within the product. Don't try and make it do something that it's not technically, nor architecturally, designed to do. While there are corner cases for things like that, if you're going to start to wander down that road, maybe you better take another look at a wider set of tools rather than just the one that you've got your eye on or the one your executives have their eyes on.
The product is functional. The ease of setup for almost everything that we did tooling-wise was straightforward. We didn't have too many issues which were out of the ordinary, corner case scenarios when using the product. That's always a bonus. Especially in ease of the installation and configuration, it is always a good thing when you're dealing with a product like this.
It integrates with softer packages, modern packages, alerting packages, etc. Aside from the base infrastructure, there are a lot of Chef tooling and plugins which make it a rather straightforward addition to the tool set. Almost everything was off-the-shelf or out-of-the-box. We did not have to configure or rewrite it ourselves, which was a big bonus. Most of these products are usually commercialized and available with ready support and tooling.


    Anshul S.

The scalability and technical support are very good

  • January 07, 2019
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

We use it for integration management.
What is most valuable?
The community.
What needs improvement?
The agent on the server sometimes acts finicky.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It is stable most of the time. There hasn't been any downtime.
We did not go with the traditional architecture, so we decided to use the AWS systems by decoupling the traditional architecture.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability of the product is quite nice. We have deployed it across six to seven organizations.
How is customer service and technical support?
The technical support is very good.
How was the initial setup?
The integration and configuration in our AWS environment is very good.
It works well with most operation management systems, and where it doesn't, we upgrade the system.
What was our ROI?
We have seen ROI.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We tried Ansible and Jenkins. However, because we use Terraform in our products, these weren't the most fitting solutions. Chef was the best solution for helping us build our infrastructure.
What other advice do I have?
Find use cases and do your research.


    Ijaz H.

Simple, easy to use, more versatile, can handle a hundred thousand servers at the same time

  • December 31, 2018
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

Our primary use case of this solution is for the orchestration of the service deployment, and integrations. Earlier, we had it on-prem but now it's totally on AWS cloud. AWS cloud is easier to use, and changing and refitting the architecture solutions is very easy.
How has it helped my organization?
This solution has improved my organization in the way that deployment has become very quick and orchestration is easy. If we have thousands of servers we can easily deploy in a small amount of time. We can deploy the applications or any kind of announcements in much less time.
We started using the AWS services, for example, Opsware. Whatever recipes we have written in SAP, we can use the same recipe in Opsware. Moving from one to the other is almost no work.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features for us would be the writing of the recipes. Any business can write the recipe based on their deployment, it's not like we have to follow a specific path.
AWS Marketplace gives you a sense of authentic products. Since AWS does its own checks on the marketplace products it's kind of a sense of relief that something will not be problematic.
What needs improvement?
I would rate this solution a nine because our use case and whatever we need is there. Ten out of ten is perfect. We have to go to IOD and stuff so they should consider things like this to make it a ten.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's quite stable, we hardly see surprises. Its deployment is very smooth.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have many applications and each one has its own cluster of the servers. We have more than a hundred servers and a couple of clusters which is a big environment. We use SAP and they help us.
How is customer service and technical support?
If we need technical support we raise an AWS ticket and someone from the technical support team helps us. If we hit a roadblock we have to go out beyond AWS support which is fine.
Which solutions did we use previously?
The reason that we chose this solution is because it's more effective and it gives us the ability to do the customization that we would like to do. It's also more versatile in the way that we can deploy using this tool, not only on Cloud but at the same time on-prem as well. It's more powerful.
What was our ROI?
We see ROI from saving a lot of time and that our deliveries are now on time. Also, we save the amount of time we take to deploy and make any changes in the deployment and in expediting service. The amount of time invested there is less which in turn we can invest in some other work. So our ROI is speed.
What other advice do I have?
I would rate this solution a nine because it's simple, easy to use, more versatile, and most importantly, it can handle the hundred thousand servers at the same time very easily and almost in no time.


    Amit C.

It is simple, easy to use, and versatile

  • December 30, 2018
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

It is for orchestrating our servers and deployments to do integrations.
How has it helped my organization?
Deployment has become quick and orchestration is now easy. If you have thousand of servers, you can easily deploy them in a minimum amount of time. You can deploy applications or any type of announcements in a reduced amount of time.
What is most valuable?
Writing recipes, which is great. Any business can write a recipe based on their deployment. We do not have to follow a path.
It is simple, easy to use, and versatile. The most important thing is it can handle a 100,000 servers at the same time easily with no time constraints.
What needs improvement?
Since we are heading to IoT, this product should consider anything related to this.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The product is quite stable. We hardly experience any surprises. Its deployment is very smooth.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have many applications and each is having its own cluster of the service. We have more than a 100 servers and a couple of clusters. That is a big environment.
How is customer service and technical support?
If we need help, we raise an AWS ticket. Then, the AWS support helps us with the technical support.
How was the initial setup?
The integration and configuration of this product in our AWS environment was simple.
What was our ROI?
We are saving a lot our delivery time and on te amount of the time that we deploy. We used to make changes during the deployment. So, the amount of time invested there is less, which in turn, we can invest in some other work. Therefore, our ROI is quick, though it does depend on the size of your service.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Purchasing through the AWS Marketplace was a good place to go to purchase this product because you receive a sense of authenticity with the products. Since AWS has its own checks on AWS Marketplace products, there is sense of relief that the product will not be problematic.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at other product like Puppet. We are also using Ansible. However, Chef is the market leader, so we went with that.
Chef is more effective. It provides the hooks, so we can do customization. The product is more versatile. For example, we can deploy using this tool, not only with cloud, but simultaneously on-premise. So, it is quite powerful.
What other advice do I have?
If someone would like to go for a heavy cluster, this is a product they can trust for deployment, since it is smooth. Even though customization is needed, they can create their own custom recipe, which in other products, I would say is partially there and also depends on the different type of applications.


    Stefan N.

When you are running a large cluster with hybrid applications, it can be very instrumental in making sure that they are running in sync

  • December 19, 2018
  • Review verified by AWS Marketplace

We use it for deployment of applications. It is a tool that you can use on the back-end for deploying architectures.
I have used the product for a couple years. I used to work for an online data center, and we used Chef for a lot of the tools and appointments.
How has it helped my organization?
When you are running a large cluster with hybrid applications, it can be very instrumental in making sure that they are running in sync. The tools it offers for running in environments has made it a good solution to use.
What is most valuable?
Its most valuable feature is automation.
What needs improvement?
Third-party innovations need improvement, and I would like to see more integration with other platforms.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We put quite a lot of stress on it, especially in our larger environments.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability is good. I have used it for several environments, from small (a couple of servers) to large clusters more than 50 servers).
What was our ROI?
We have seen a lot of ROI. Our customers really enjoy the tool. We are able to save in development time, deployment time, and it makes it easier to manage the environments.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Purchasing the solution from AWS Marketplace was a good experience. AWS's pricing is pretty in line with the product's regular pricing. Though instance-wise, AWS is not the cheapest in the market.
The AWS platform is solid. With the technologies that they offer, it makes it easy to integrate. When you are building environments and your able to integrate everything together, this is good thing.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at a combination of open source and other paid solutions. It was hard because Chef offered many options that others didn't, so it wasn't a one-to-one comparison.
Chef had better functionality, flexibility, and price. It is a clean product that is easy to work with and our customers like the product.
What other advice do I have?
It works well. I would highly recommend it.
It is a well thought out product which integrates well with what developers and customers are looking for.
The product works well with VMware environments.


    Stewart H.

A workhorse for deployment and configuration

  • June 03, 2016
  • Review verified by G2

What do you like best?
The ability to manage multiple environments easily.
What do you dislike?
The domain specific language has a couple of small quirks.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
We used this to manage all of the hosts configurations and applications that we deployed. It was used for all aspects to manage log locations, configurations, and even some kernel level configurations.
Recommendations to others considering the product:
https://docs.chef.io/ is your friend! The domain specific language (DSL) can be very hard at times especially for those coming from a non-Ruby programming back-ground.


    Information Technology and Services

Powerful but Quirky

  • January 26, 2016
  • Review verified by G2

What do you like best?
* Keeps recipes in version control.
* Simple to modify system recipes
* Keeps systems in sync
What do you dislike?
* Can revert developer/administrator changes with little notice.
* Documentation can be out of date, suggesting commands that don't work with no clear suggestion for replacements.
* Individual node configuration is kept separate from recipes, not version controlled.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
* Keeps a variety of servers maintained with proper configuration.
* Propagates changes to many servers simply.
* Makes transferring server roles between hardware much simpler.


    Human Resources

Strong Core Software, Disappointing Community Additions

  • December 24, 2015
  • Review provided by G2

What do you like best?
The diverse collection of community cookbooks.
What do you dislike?
The lack of maintenance on the majority of community cookbooks, which requires me to re-invent the wheel rather than use a pre-existing framework.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Reproducible infrastructure. Chef is a great tool for infrastructure management, as long as you know what you're doing. Chef's documentation does not hand-hold users through its set-up, use, or troubleshooting so I've regularly relied on third-party blogs/instructions to maintain my Chef cookbooks. If you're looking for a tool that guides you through installation, configuration, and use, I recommend Puppet.
Recommendations to others considering the product:
If you're new to configuration management ideas in general, Chef has a steep learning curve. The Chef software gives its admins just enough rope to hang themselves. If you're already familiar with the Chef DSL (or config management DSLs in general), Chef is a powerful tool.


    Mohammad Hossein M.

Simple yet Elegant

  • December 22, 2015
  • Review provided by G2

What do you like best?
When you are a rapid web designer/developer, you never want to be late on delivery.
Chef should be your choice if you want to automate or config a system the way you want.
It's easier than what you might think.
Test it today!
What do you dislike?
I've never had a problem with Chef, so I do not dislike anything about it.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
1. Saving time,
2. Saving Money,
3. Saving Clients
4. Learn how to think big about my future web dev needs.
Recommendations to others considering the product:
Just use it once and you'll love it.