Demystifying Chef Habitat: What is It & Why You Need It


Over the past few years, we’ve been working closely with Chef Software to alleviate the pain points teams have in their software deployment lifecycle. Our partnership has allowed us to explore new projects and create novel integrations – all the while collaborating with DevOps experts who inspire us to do more.

Having worked with clients across different industries and sizes, we must say our top pick from the Chef software suite is Chef Habitat. We’ve seen the power of Chef Habitat in modernizing how companies build and manage their applications. Its ‘build once, deploy anywhere’ capability makes it easy to manage infrastructure and application requirements, no matter how vast and varied they are.

At the core of Chef Habitat is a new approach to deploying applications called application automation.

Watch this video for a quick overview:

What is Application Automation?

According to Chef Habitat’s website: “Application Automation means that automation is packaged with the application and travels with it, no matter where that application is deployed. The unit of deployment becomes the application and its associated automation. The runtime environment, whether it is a container, bare metal, or PaaS, isn’t the center of focus. It does not in any way define the application. Instead of managing the infrastructure and any supporting dependencies separately from the application, Chef Habitat includes everything that an application needs, throughout its lifetime, within a Chef Habitat package.”

In essence, Chef Habitat enables you to pack everything your application needs to run, including all of the automation steps, into a coherent package that is runtime environment agnostic. It makes it easier for you to not only automate the provisioning of your infrastructure but also ensure that all the dependencies are in place for your application to run reliably.

The Goal of Chef Habitat

If you think about it, the business value is in the application and yet, we spend so much time worrying about infrastructure. That’s why the goal of Chef Habitat, according to Habitat’s co-author Jamie Winsor, is to “redefine what application automation means by focusing on the application instead of the infrastructure,”.

So how does Chef Habitat differ from existing containerization and provisioning tools?

In the words of Jamie: “In the past, we have been building computers in service to host our applications, and what [Chef] Habitat does instead is it says, let’s focus on what the applications are that we need to run our application, what software we need down to a bare minimum, and then provision the machine around it. With [Chef] Habitat, you can pick and choose what pieces you want.”

Why You Need Chef Habitat?

Chef Habitat help firms manage their application deployment lifecycle and improve scalability, all the while being infrastructure agnostic for greater flexibility. It allows DevOps teams to deploy robust applications faster and with frequent releases.

Having worked on one of the largest Chef Habitat implementations to date, we have witnessed how Chef Habitat allowed our client to:

  • Containerize their applications without significant refactoring of their application code
  • Become infrastructure agnostic (build once, deploy anywhere)
  • In some instances, shrink their application deployment time by almost 10x

To learn more about this use case, read the full case study here.

We’ve barely scratched the surface on what Chef Habitat can do; for more in-depth content, please take a look at some of our webinars and posts on Chef Habitat:

As a Chef partner, Indellient makes it easy to get teams up and running with Chef Habitat. From small businesses to the Fortune 20, Chef Habitat has been critical to modernizing how companies build, deploy and manage applications. Learn more about our Chef Services.

Indellient’s DevOps Team can help you continuously deliver your business applications and services at high velocity. Our experts are certified on and have vast experience with core technologies and methodologies to help you manage mission-critical infrastructure operations in an agile and reliable way. Our clients rely on us to maximize infrastructure to innovate quickly, unlock new efficiencies and reduce total cost of ownership. To learn more, get in touch with us.