With worldwide IT spending on the rise, organizations are constantly seeking ways to boost agility and productivity. Gartner reports that worldwide IT spending will reach $3.9 trillion by 2021, representing an increase of 6.2% from 2020. The rapid pace of digital transformation with the rise in remote operations and consumer demands gave way to greater IT automation.
Automation is an essential part of any agile team. Organizations need to enable rapid application development and facilitate better infrastructure management. One of the most crucial IT automation processes is server automation.
There are several tools available for server automation and infrastructure management. Chef is one of the oldest and most popular tools trusted by top organizations. However, you may find yourself looking for other alternatives to Chef. Similar tools include Attune, Ansible, Puppet, and many more.
This article provides you with a list of tools very similar to Chef and the features and benefits that make them stand out.
What Is Server Automation?
Server automation involves automating several tasks and workflows for efficient delivery of applications across virtual and physical server machines. A few of these processes include CI/CD, build automation, patching, server provisioning, compliance and governance, task scheduling, and auditing. It is crucial for achieving digital transformation across your entire organization.
With automation, you can enable an agile approach to application delivery, ensuring faster speed, consistency, better efficiency, and productivity, as well as a high ROI. On top of that, you can free up staff to concentrate on more productive endeavors while reducing human errors relating to deployment procedures and builds.
The tremendous benefits underline the need to automate your IT infrastructure and build through server automation.
Chef is one of the oldest and most popular infrastructure and configuration management tools. Among the numerous companies that use the service are Yahoo, Etsy, Facebook, and others. Chef makes it easy to manage configurations, monitor and provision servers, automate complex system infrastructure, and facilitate security and compliance. Chef works across several cloud platforms like Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon EC2.
Chef provides highly informative documentation with an extensive list of resources and guides from community users and third-party sources. In addition to this, you have several available extensions and configuration procedures by the community that you can use.
The Features and Benefits of Chef Include:
Impressive centralized configuration management features that include data bags, shared repositories, cookbook versioning, and encrypted data bags
Ruby-based syntax and Erlang available to directly handle complex configuration tasks
Provides flexibility and consistency in scaling as businesses grow
Automated InSpec tests tools available to inspect Chef scripts
Supports various platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD
8 Server Automation Alternatives To Chef
As one of the most popular server automation tools, Chef offers impressive features for any organization. However, if you’re looking for other solutions, here’s a list of Chef alternatives for you.
Attune is the best alternative to Chef for server automation. While Attune is still relatively new, it already offers many innovative and advanced features that make it an excellent substitute. Attune includes powerful capabilities to automate server procedures, configure build and deployment pipelines, provision and patch virtual and physical servers.
On top of that, Attune helps organizations improve quality assurance, schedule tasks, generate documentation, enhance security, and automate compliance. Moreover, it allows you to create and manage a virtual or physical server on Windows or Linux.
The Features and Benefits of Attune Include:
A cross-platform solution that works on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux for Attune Professional or Enterprise licenses
Ansible is another excellent alternative to Chef. It is configuration and infrastructure management. You can use Ansible to execute system administration procedures such as provisioning, patching, configuration management, CI/CD, security, and compliance.
Ansible provides an intuitive interface for rapid deployment procedures that connects dynamic environments with Ansible modules. In addition to automating tasks, you can use Ansible to orchestrate several automated processes.
Ansible integrates well with Jenkins to test, validate, and manage VMs and container images
Extensible features with custom modules
Agentless architecture with every action carried out via SSH
Simple release procedures to reduce workload complexity
Simple playbook setup
Similar to Chef, Jenkins is a popular CI/CD solution to run automated builds, tests, and debugging. Jenkins provides an easy interface for IT automation, release orchestration, application deployment, and configuration management.
On top of that, Jenkins is a powerful platform for provisioning and configuring large networks and servers. Jenkins integrates exceptionally well with any DevOps tool such as GitLab, Ansible, GitHub, and Puppet.
The Features and Benefits of Jenkins
Simplified installation procedure
Highly customizable with extensible features available via plugins
Free and open source
Runs on Mac OS, Windows, and Unix-like operating systems
Puppet is one of the leading configuration management alternatives to Chef. It simplifies the process of server automation and configuration management. In addition, it helps to provision, patch, build, schedule tasks, and run compliance and security.
Puppet communicates using an encrypted SSL channel through a Master and Slave configuration. With Puppet, you can rapidly and easily integrate and deploy infrastructure. In addition to that, Puppet enables consistency in infrastructure and data center management.
The Features and Benefits of Puppet
Multiple platform support with Linux, Windows, Solaris, and Mac OS
Infrastructure orchestration management
Provides standards for middleware, code, and configuration of applications and systems
Enables reliable uptime and stability for system configuration drift
Provides asset control and management capabilities
Large community support with intuitive documentation and guide
Written in C++ and Ruby
Centrally manages configuration
CircleCI is a powerful SaaS-based alternative to Chef. It is a fast scalable cloud-based tool for CI/CD and configuration management. You can use its YAML-based configuration system to test and push CI/CD changes efficiently. In addition, CircleCI is great for building and testing smaller-scale projects. With its easy-to-use interface, you can view and manage automated and workflows
The Features and Benefits of CircleCI
Simple configuration and integration with YAML template
Provides parallel test executions with build concurrency
Seamless GitHub integration
Multiple language support for C++, Ruby, Python, and more
Optimizes caching and parallelism for efficient performance
Provides unique insights with interactive dashboards
Provides automatic upgrades
SaltStack is a powerful configuration and infrastructure management tool available on on-premise, cloud, and hybrid environments. With SaltStack, you can manage your configurations remotely and execute commands in Python.
In Salt, you can simultaneously push configuration codes to several nodes for configuration with a dynamic environment providing both agentless & agent-based configuration management. SaltStack also provides robust SecOps capabilities that you can use to detect and fix security concerns in your infrastructure, ensuring you’re compliant and secure.
The Features and Benefits of Salt Include:
Reproducible server setup
Open and friendly community all over the world
Easily readable output in YAML
Runs agentless communication via SSH or agents
Cross-platform support for Windows, Linux, and Unix-like operating systems
With the Salt Master parameter, Salt minions connect concurrently to multiple masters
Highly scalable platform with capabilities to manage thousands of minions simultaneously
Terraform is a powerful tool for infrastructure provisioning and management for complex and simple tasks. That makes it ideal for companies expanding and creating new services, as it allows them to trace dependencies and run iterations. You can track and maintain infrastructure as code across multiple clients using Terraform.
With HCL support out-of-the-box, it simplifies data center management. It can also help provision infrastructure across multiple cloud platforms via the CLI.
The Features and Benefits of Terraform Include:
Reusable Terraform templates
Cross-platform compatibility with Linux, Solaris, Windows, Mac OS, and more
Vagrant is another impressive Chef alternative that makes it easy to manage VMs centrally. It provides a quick and easy way to create staging/production environments to test and develop locally. By using Vagrant, you can increase production parity and decrease setup time for development environments, as well as eliminate the excuse that “it works on my machine.”
With its VM-controlled environment, users can automatically install software, update configuration files, and automate all aspects of the development process without any extra concerns.
Extensible with several community plugins and integration with Salt, Ansible, Chef, and Puppet
Compatible with several operating systems such as Linux, Mac, and Windows
Provides a unified configuration file for describing machines and software
Getting Started With Server Automation
One of the driving goals of every organization is to improve efficiency. Server automation is the process of automating virtual and physical server management. In that sense, Chef represents one of the top tools driving this improvement. Choosing an alternative from the litany of tools like Chef can seem like a challenge. But this article makes it easier for you by curating a list of the 8 best alternatives you can use in place of Chef.