Chef is combining three of its flagship products into a single offering. But the company insists Chef Automate is not simply a repackaging of what was once three distinct products: the Chef automation solution for devops, the InSpec policy compliance system, and the Habitat application-automation system.
The idea, said Ken Cheney, vice president of business development for Chef, is that "this is not just a repackaging. ...This brings brings all three products together at the workflow and visibility layer."
According to Cheney, multiple teams in enterprises often have to stitch together a number of tools to make a workflow, and moving between teams requires learning an entirely new toolchain and an entirely new set of processes.
Chef Automate is meant to provide unity across teams by providing what Cheney describes as "aggregate visibility" into the tools that teams already have, such as version control systems, collaboration tools like Slack, or other tools for testing or pipeline management.
The Chef provided in this package is the same system-automation tool embraced by everyone from Facebook to Amazon. Habitat, a recent addition to the Chef family, allows an application's automation data to be packaged with the app and to travel with it through its lifecycle.
InSpec, the third element in the package, may be less familiar to Chef users. Added to the Chef product lineup at the end of 2015, it provides a way to ensure that systems running software deployed by Chef meet security and compliance policies. It is a way to "bring the best of devops practices to the world of compliance," Chef said in a blog post.
What Chef Automate isn't being billed as seems at least as important as what it is. For one, it is not a new mandatory way to deploy Chef. "One of our chief requirements was that you wouldn't have to use the workflow [provided by Automate] if you didn't need to," Cheney said.
Automate also isn't a prelude to Chef, Habitat, or InSpec becoming commercial products. All three will remain open source under the Apache 2.0 license, meaning anyone inclined to build their own toolchains with them can continue to do so.