Automated Infrastructure is on the Menu with Chef
By Joshua Timberman, Aaron Peterson
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: July 2010
Run time: 2 hours 3 minutes

Let’s say you discover one morning that CNN is going to feature your company later that day. You'll need more horsepower for your application infrastructure -- and fast. If you have a cohesive, integrated deployment and configuration solution such as Chef, a situation that could be nightmare is a piece of cake.

In this eye-opening video, you get an overview of the Chef open-source system integration framework and how it can help you automate server plumbing. Chef provides abstraction and an API so that system administrators can write simple code that describes the roles, recipes, and resources for your systems. System administrators love Chef because it gives them flexibility to integrate all aspects of their infrastructure. Software developers love Chef because it helps them take care of the muck so they can focus on writing great applications.

With automated computing resources just an API call away, the era of the six-week server deployment is over. Find out how in this presentation by two engineers from Opscode, the company that developed and now maintains Chef.

This video covers:

  • Configuration management and system integration as an operations discipline
  • Chef's architecture and design
  • Chef concepts, such as Roles, Recipes, Clients, and Nodes
  • The gory details of cookbooks
  • How to use existing cookbooks
  • How to writing a Chef cookbook and override an existing cookbook
  • Integrating systems with search and libraries
  • Anatomy of a Chef run
  • Examples of Recipe code and what it does
  • Cookbook development workflow, with source version control
  • Interacting with the server API through the command-line tool, Knife

"Automated Infrastructure is on the Menu with Chef" captures one of the popular tutorial sessions presented at OSCON 2010, the O’Reilly Open Source Convention held in Portland, Oregon in July. Other videos of OSCON 2010 sessions include:

  • Building a NoSQL Data Cloud
  • Cooking with jQuery
  • Django Deployment Workshop
  • Hands-on Cassandra
  • Introduction to Django
  • Observing and Optimizing your Application with DTrace
  • Practical Python Programming: Callbacks
  • Productive Programmer
  • Scalable Internet Architectures
  • Test-Driven Database Development
  • The Seductions of Scala
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oreillyAutomated Infrastructure is on the Menu with Chef

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(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)


Scattered and disappointing

By Ken, Pythoneer and Homebrewer

from Denver, CO

About Me Developer, Sys Admin

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Timely


  • Difficult to understand
  • Too top-down
  • Unable to follow examples

Best Uses

  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Automated Infrastructure is on the Menu with Chef:

Chef is known as a powerful but intimidating tool that is in need of improved documentation. Too much of Chef's official documentation is top-down, with few simple, easily repeatable examples.

Unfortunately, On The Menu with Chef is a set of videos that makes all of the same mistakes that the Chef documentation makes. "Getting Started" is the second video's theme, making the first video an entirely academic study in Chef jargon and theory, presented mostly in the form of a data dump of glossary terms to be painfully remembered later.

While the presentation is loaded with demonstrations on command lines of what's going on, all of the demonstrations are shown on an already working infrastructure. There's no Chef equivalent of a "Hello, World" and none of the examples start from scratch and work to something useful. Only in video 4 of 4 does Timberman even get into some real-world examples, but still never really shows them start to finish, and leaves you to your own devices on getting them working outside of his own environment.

A far more useful video would start with something simple -- like using Chef to make sure two servers are running a specific (perhaps older) version Apache. Unfortunately, having watched these videos, I have only a faint idea of how to start such a basic endeavor.

While potentially useful to an intermediate Chef user, On The Menu with Chef is a disappointing video tutorial, especially given the time and money I've invested in it. I'm surprised O'Reilly put its name behind it.

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