Chef Alternatives 2021 | Best Server Automation Tools

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.

cheff by progress automation alternatives

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

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
  • Open-source
  • 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

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:

Ansible

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.

Learn More: Top 5 Alternatives to Ansible

The Features and Benefits of Ansible Includes:

  • 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

Jenkins

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
  • Platform agnostic
  • Java-based
  • Highly customizable with extensible features available via plugins
  • Free and open source
  • Runs on Mac OS, Windows, and Unix-like operating systems

Learn More: Top 5 Alternatives To Jenkins

Puppet

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

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

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

Learn More: Top 6 Alternatives To SaltStack

Terraform

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:

  • Cloud-agnostic
  • Reusable Terraform templates
  • Go-based
  • Cross-platform compatibility with Linux, Solaris, Windows, Mac OS, and more
  • Impressive documentation with lots of examples

Learn More: 10 Best Terraform Alternative In 2021

Vagrant

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.

The Features and Benefits Of Vagrant Include:

  • Highly productive development/test environment scaffolding
  • Consistent and repeatable outputs
  • 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.

If you’re still in doubt about having a server automation tool, have a look at why you should automate your IT infrastructure and builds.

Post Written by Alexander Fashakin

Hi there, I am a programmer, content writer and aspiring product growth manager. I love learning about exciting new products and technologies.

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