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Don MacVittie

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Chef Habitat first impressions.

Gearshttp://www.stacki.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Gears.png 512w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />I, like many of you, attended the LiveStream of Chef unveiling Habitat. I find the system super-intriguing, and the disruption it potentially causes to be good for Operations in general and DevOps in particular. The ability to define apps in a way that allows entire software infrastructures to know how to construct themselves, regardless of where they are being deployed is the next logical step in application provisioning. Bundling this information with the app itself is a leap.

Those who know me are aware that I worked for years at a networking company, and now work at a host provisioning company, so mention of APIs to hook into infrastructure drew my attention quickly.

If your application can configure load balancing, networking, and NAS to configure the storage and network that it needs, then it truly is self-configuring, which is where we need to end up. The ability to use a tool like Stacki or Cobbler to configure the underlying physical infrastructure, then the application provisioning itself on that infrastructure is astounding. While end-to-end intelligent automation is the long-term goal, this would be a great step in that direction. Combined with virualization/containers/cloud API based server provisioning, it would leave installation of the base framework to be the least automated part, but that is configured once, and servers are spun on it a zillion times. And of course there are companies like Mirantis working to make even that part painless.

The end goal here should be the ability to quickly – perhaps even in a single line – say something like

“Add httpd to three servers in the [public cloud|private cloud|VM|physical|container] environment and place them on a separate VLAN connected to VLAN 72, using security policy iLoveSecurity and app acceleration policy makeItSpeedy”

and have it take care of literally everything – OS provisioning, security, app build/deploy, network config, load balancing… Etc.

And we’re headed there. This will no doubt cause a string of new problems we will need to overcome – I can see a phenomenon similar to VM bloat happening, and software defined [fill in the blank] will end up sharing resources with apps that are pigs, causing some amount of reconfiguration. But once you start down the full-on automation path, it gets easier to see things like that and say “and automate that solution too”.

My evenings are booked pretty solid at the moment – too many interests – but I’m going to spend some evenings over the next couple of weeks checking Habitat out, from install to ops to contributing, and see how far along it is. Anything earth-shattering, I’ll report back, but just what’s available in the online demo is pretty cool.

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Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.