Late to the cloud party? Chef tries to boost business by venturing into the SaaS space

Cloud

Ever wondered how things are going at automation software provider Chef, a good year after the company was bought by software vendor Progress? With the initial turmoil of the acquisition process dying down and things slowly getting back to a normalcy-adjacent state, Chef Conf 2021 gave community members and company personnel plenty of online space to exchange their views on the last couple of months and take a look at the road ahead.

Amongst the prevailing topics was the reduction of the original workforce and relocation of teams that marked the beginning of the new company setup. Community members repeatedly pointed out the close relationship they had established with the Chef engineers and how their leaving felt both “a little rough” and caused major concern about the future of the Chef products in the beginning.

However, Progress seems to have been able to dissipate at least some of these concerns, since various additions to the portfolio — as well as investments in somewhat abandoned areas such as testing — have been cited as a cause for cautious optimism by community representatives at the event. To keep that momentum going, product teams have been busy talking to customers about what they need in order to function properly, and came up with enhancements in enterprise-relevant areas such as compliance, multi-cloud, and deployment approach.

In terms of compliance, Chef added to its audit and remediation content and came up with an integration for Azure Policy. Chef’s enterprise automation stack, meanwhile, has been fitted with support for Windows patch management, experimental integrations with secret management tools, and language enhancements to make its tools easier to use for those who can’t quite bring themselves to get deeper into Ruby.

According to Chef head of products Prashanth Nanjundappa, users will soon have the ability to manage security posture within container and Kubernetes platforms with Chef. Following community demand, Chef is currently also working on a way to deploy Chef Automate in a highly available manner and finish turning the tool into a centralised management instance for the Chef portfolio. Senior product manager Trevor Hess also mentioned work to come up with ways to manage resources without installing agents — which should open Chef up for a wider array of use cases, since not all platforms allow for such an approach.

To simplify adoption, Chef products are also going to become more present on various cloud marketplaces. This is meant to make them more accessible for teams who would normally have to walk through an official process to get new software bought, but already have a cloud account that allows adding marketplace apps. Organisations looking to hand over responsibility for installations and keeping everything up to date can meanwhile apply for the new and somewhat awaited Chef SaaS offer that is currently in limited beta, or check the company’s managed services.

While these new (to Chef) deployment forms will surely help to keep current customers on board and on good terms, it remains to be seen if the planned changes will be enough to lure more Chef newbies to the product — or if the company is just a tad late to the cloud party. But then again not everyone is born cloud-native, so there still is some potential.