ChefConf 2015 Debriefing

Posted by Jon Hendren

ChefConf demo

Last week, we repped our set at ChefConf 2015 and gave a couple hundred live UpGuard demos to attendees. We saw a few talks and caught up with some old friends, too. It was a great time and we’ll definitely be back next year.

Being that it was a Chef event, practically everyone present was either knee-deep in a Chef deployment or about to begin, so naturally many stories and questions we heard related to how UpGuard augments an automation initiative. Key points include:

1. Chef is hard. To be fair though, mastering any sort of automation tool is hard. UpGuard makes things a bit easier by giving you visibility into your existing infrastructure before you automate. Configurations you define as good can be exported as Chef recipes, allowing you to dip your toes in the water before going whole-hog with automation.

2. Putting brakes on a car lets you move faster, not slower. The first question many ask is, “If I add UpGuard to my workflow as an independent visibility and validation tool, doesn’t that complicate things or slow us down?” and the answer is no, not really. By knowing what you’ve got, you’re enabled to confidently move faster rather than slower because you know you’re not going to drive off that cliff. Or plow into a bus. Or spin out and roll the thing 30 or 40 times and be ejected because you weren't wearing a seatbelt and oh god why didn't I get UpGuard? Why?

3. “How does UpGuard compare to [your favorite APM tools]?” It doesn’t. In fact, it compliments them. When you receive an alert from another tool that something is spiking or breaking, a UpGuard scan can show you what’s changed config-wise since last night, last week, or last month. APM tools tell you “when” something breaks, and UpGuard tells you “why.”

4. Nearly everyone’s running mixed environments. Hearing that someone had a purely Windows or *nix shop was really, really rare. UpGuard supports them both, out-of-the-box. (In fact, UpGuard supports pretty much any common OS or device that can be logged into via SSH.)

5. "Agentless? Nice." Another thing that seemed to pique interest was UpGuard’s agentless architecture. With no agents, there’s no additional maintenance overhead. UpGuard connects to machines securely via SSH—or WinRM in the case of Windows—and grabs data that way. (Although we do have an agent option still available in case you’ve got some special need for it.)

6. Compliance is no joke. Attendees from regulated industries like finance and healthcare have certain obligations, and need to ensure compliance. If (and when) Uncle Sam comes around asking questions, UpGuard can be used to verify that everything aligns with the law of the land. If words like “Sarbanes-Oxley” keep you up at night, UpGuard can help you sleep a bit easier.

7. Those soft pretzels they handed out were incredible. Damn, yeah, I put away 8 or 9 of those puppies, myself.

All in all, we learned a great deal and made a bunch of new friends. In case you missed our booth and still want to see the demo, check out this recorded demo from TechEd Europe last year. (In it, we export to PowerShell DSC, but the Chef integration functions in exactly the same way.)

Or if you missed out on our ridiculously popular DevOps Thought Leader shirts, don’t worry, there's another way to get one.

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