January 31, 2018

Introduction to the Learn Chef Rally!

Need to automate configurations for Amazon Web Services? One way to do it is with Chef.io.

Chef does the "cooking" metaphor to the hilt! Configurations are "recipes", written in the Ruby programming language, which are stored in a "cookbook". We covered this in early January with The Ruby Behind Chef.

This metaphor continues: To automate all of this, you use the product "Test Kitchen".

Seems complicated? To help you out, Chef create the most amazing set of documentation I have ever seen: The Learn Chef Rally.

From Getting Started With Chef in Learn.Chef.io:

"If you're new to Chef, just know that Chef lets you automate all the things—infrastructure, applications, compliance and more. Learn Chef Rally will teach you how. It's the hub for Chef and DevOps related resources that will build your skills.

"The Learn Chef Rally curriculum is organized by tracks. A track groups related learning activities.

"We call each learning activity a module. Modules include a mix of hands-on labs, articles, and videos. Our hands-on labs help you get started quickly on the platform that you care about most.

"When you finish a module, you'll see a few quiz questions at the end. Answering these questions correctly gives you credit for having completed the module. You can track your progress on the home page".

Since my job will be automating Amazon Web Service tests, spinning up and tearing down environments, I'm starting the module on Test Kitchen: "Infrastructure Code Deserves Tests Too".

What is Kitchen?

In the last blog entry, "What Is the DevOps toolset "Test Kitchen" and Where Did It Come Come from? Fletcher Nicol at ChefConf 2014" we covered a bit about the DevOps tool Test Kitchen.

"Kitchen provides a test harness to execute infrastructure code on one or more platforms in isolation.

"A driver plugin architecture is used to run code on various cloud providers and virtualization technologies such as Vagrant, Amazon EC2, and Docker. Read more

"Many testing frameworks are supported out of the box including InSpec, Serverspec, and Bats

"For Chef workflows, cookbook dependency resolution via Berkshelf or Policyfiles is supported or include a cookbooks/ directory and Kitchen will know what to do.

"Kitchen is used by all Chef-managed community cookbooks and is the integration testing tool of choice for cookbooks".

All of this is taught in the Learn Chef Rally track, Infrastructure Automation, which consists of four modules:

1) Learn the Chef Basics: "Get started by using Chef to keep your servers in line with the configuration policies you describe. You'll set up a web server and serve a basic home page on your own virtual machine or one that we provide".

2) Manage a node with Chef server: "Learn how the Chef server acts as a central repository for your cookbooks and for information about your servers, or nodes".

3) Get Started With Test Kitchen: Learn how to speed up the development process by using Test Kitchen to apply your infrastructure code from your workstation.

4) Go Beyond the Basics: Learn what happens behind the scenes when chef-client runs.

... I cannot believe how well organized this all is! 

Other tracks I am also interested in:
  • Chef on AWS: "Looking for AWS on the menu? Place your order here and you'll get a hang for the Chef basics, manage your first node, test Chef cookbooks on temporary cloud instances, and deploy changes to a production-like environment, all on AWS".
  • Continuous Automation with Chef Automate: "Hungry for continuous automation? Satisfy your appetite with Chef Automate, the platform for continuous development, and learn how it can provide visibility into your infrastructure. Also discover how to deploy a cookbook using the Chef Automate pipeline". 

This looks quite interesting! I think I have everything I need to keep me busy the next couple of months!

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test
Meetup Organizer, Ministry of Testing - Boston

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