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Automate Your Server Configuration!
by Modeling It In Code
Josh Padnick
Desert Code Camp
April 5, 2014
Today’s 5-Course Meal
• What is Chef and what does it solve?
• Key Chef concepts
• Where/How you use it
• Tips & tricks
• ...
Our Goal Today:
You go home tonight and deploy your
first Chef cookbook in 1 - 2 hours.
• Founder & CIO of Omedix
• Special interest in Healthcare IT
• 10+ years doing web app dev
• Strong preference for open s...
Some Problems from the
Server Management World
“The Magic Server”
The code doesn't work on any server
except the magic server. We're afraid to touch it.
“Just Clone Another Instance”
You can’t setup a dev machine quickly, but you're
virtualizing and at least you can clone it.
“We have AMIs! But we need to change them :(“
You can clone a server, but your snapshot (AMI) needs
to be changed...so you...
“I have a simple script to deploy!
to 10 different servers”
The script is small and simple, but deploying it to 10 servers...
Documentation is time-consuming and always out of date.
But we still need to ramp up the new guy.
“Documentation is critic...
"Deploying a new server takes too long"
!
"This server here is broken so let's spend hours
restoring it because launching ...
Are you actively managing more than
a few servers on an ongoing basis?
Welcome to!
SERVER MANAGEMENT HELL
What is the underlying issue here?
The real problem is STATE.
But wait, haven’t we dealt
with state before?
Only since 1937 when Alan Turing invented the state machine.
What does the Chef solution look like?
The Servers
The Servers
Management Server
The Servers
Management Server
This guy is the authority on what
state each server should be in
The Servers
Management Server Local Workstation
The Servers
Each of these guys installs an
agent called the CHEF CLIENT
Management Server Local Workstation
The Servers
Each of these guys installs an
agent called the CHEF CLIENT
Management Server Local Workstation
This guy is th...
The Servers
Each of these guys installs an
agent called the CHEF CLIENT
Management Server Local Workstation
This guy is th...
Now let’s use all the Chef lingo.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Write code that describes the
state of a node and deploy it
to Chef Server
Write code that describes the
state of a node and deploy it
to Chef Server
Has the official record of what
each server’s st...
Each node periodically polls the
Chef Server asking for “update
state” instructions
Has the official record of what
each se...
Each node updates its state!
based on instructions from the
management server.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Each Node’s state has been
updated!
Did someone say we’re
writing code?
• Write it in Ruby 2.x
• Chef gives us a Ruby DSL specially for declaring server state...
We’ll go into more Chef detail later.
Let’s pan out to the 50,000 foot view again.
Chef is considered a
Configuration Management!
Solution
What is Configuration Management?
• A tool used to manage server configuration

with automation.
• Born out of the need for ...
Who Created Chef?
Jesse Robbins Adam Jacob
Managed lots of Amazon.com servers
Real-life fire fighter!
Built infrastructure f...
Alternatives to Chef
• Ansible
• Saltstack
• Puppet
DevOps
• Chef merges the worlds of Development (Dev)
and SysAdmin (Ops).
• Dev: build software, version control, automated...
Let’s talk more about key
concepts in Chef.
• The primary currency in Chef is the Cookbook.
• That’s the set of code and files we use to tell a
server what state to up...
• Sample cookbooks
• MySQL
• Nginx
• Install Java
• Update crontab
• Update timezone
• Add SSH certificates to authorized_c...
• You can roll your own
• But for almost every need, just search GitHub
• google “github java cookbook” and choose the bes...
Sample Cookbook
• Recipes are individual sets of
instructions to be executed.
• Recipes read values from
Attributes for th...
Sample Recipe File
Sample Attributes File
Attributes
• How attributes get applied to a recipe are behind
much of the perceived complexity of Chef.
• We’ll cover thi...
Let’s see how a cookbook ultimately
gets executed on a node.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
At your workstation, download or
write a new cookbook. Let’s call
it “Sample”.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Upload your cookbook to the
Chef Server using KNIFE.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Now has the latest version of
the “Sample” cookbook.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Use KNIFE to tell CHEF SERVER
the RUN-LIST for a specific node.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Now knows that Node 32 should
run the “Sample” cookbook.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
SSH directly into an individual node
(“Node 32”) and run “sudo chef-
client” to CONVERGE the node.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Node 32 uses chef-client to
contact Chef Server. It get its
updated run-list, and executes
the run...
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Node 32’s run-list says to run the
Sample Cookbook. It runs the
latest version of Sample.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Node 32 has now executed all the
instructions in the latest version of
the “Sample” cookbook
Wait, we have to manually log into
each node to update it?
• No! In production, we use Roles to specify a run-list.
• This...
Where Chef is Used
• Traditional Chef Server
• AWS OpsWorks
• Clould Management (Scalr & RightScale)
• Vagrant
Traditional Chef Server
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Traditional Chef Server
• Chef Server comes in Open Source or Enterprise
Edition
• Chef Server is “on premise” or hosted b...
Enterprise Chef Pricing
http://www.getchef.com/enterprise-chef/#plans-pricing
AWS OpsWorks
Local Workstation
Different Flavors of Chef-Client
• Server Mode
• Chef Solo Mode
• Local Mode
Cloud Management Services
(e.g. Scalr & RightScale)
Nodes
Local Workstation
• It’s a command-line interface to virtual machine
software like VirtualBox or VMWAre.
• You can combine Chef’s cookbooks, VirtualBox (a
free VM provider), and Vagrant to run chef
cookbooks directly on local V...
• Get the latest cookbooks on
your local machine
• Run a bunch of VM’s with
VirtualBox and Vagrant
• Update the VM’s with ...
Remaining Chef Concepts
http://docs.opscode.com/chef_overview.html
Remaining Concepts We’ll Talk About
• Roles
• Environments
• Data Bags
• Ohai
• Source Control & Chef
Remaining Concepts We Won’t Cover
• Resources
• Providers
• LWRPs
All those remaining concepts we’ll cover fall into two buckets:
1. Attributes
2. Run-lists
Attributes
• Can be set in multiple places
Ohai
• It’s a program that runs on each node and supplies
attribute info specific to that node.
• Examples
• What OS the no...
Roles
• The Run-List is usually the same for all servers at the
same “layer” in the stack and different across layers.
Run...
Roles
• Roles can also specify attributes that OVERRIDE the
“default” attributes set in the Recipe.
• When a new node is c...
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Use KNIFE to bootstrap a new
NODE with the “web” ROLE.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
A new NODE exists that is
assigned to the “web” role
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
Use KNIFE to update the “web”
ROLE to add a new RECIPE to
the RUN-LIST.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
The “web” role has been
updated.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
New Node polls the CHEF
SERVER every X minutes to look
for updates.
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
The “web” ROLE now includes a
new RECIPE so download this
COOKBOOK and run the RECIPE
Nodes
Chef Server Knife
All nodes in the “web” role have
“CONVERGED.”
Sample Role
Environments
• We typically have a PROD and DEV. Maybe QA and
STAGING, or others.
• Environments are just another label to...
Data Bags
• Data Bags are a global source of attributes that any
recipe can call upon.
• They work great for global attrib...
Source Control & Chef
• Your local chef repo should be cloned from https://
github.com/opscode/chef-repo.
• Then commit it...
Attribute Hierarchy
• Hard to learn just by looking. Learn by doing.
Tips & Tricks
Also hard to remember. Intended for reference!
Storing Secrets in Your Infrastructure
• This is a very hard problem! Let’s look at some options.
• Option 1: The official ...
Open Source Chef Server Tips
• Follow the instructions at http://docs.opscode.com/install_server.html
• Go to http://www.g...
Tips for Setting Up Knife
• When you run knife configure --initial use your local paths for the admin.pem and the chef-
val...
Writing Cookbooks
• Having a fast feedback loop is key. Also don’t want
to rack up AWS costs.
• Ideal environment for writ...
Helpful Ruby Tips
• I knew zero Ruby when I started and got by fine.
Here are the only confusing things I encountered:
• In...
Getting Started &
Learning More
Start with These Milestones
1. Setup Chef Server (hosted or on-premise)
2. Setup Knife
3. Setup Vagrant environment
4. Wri...
Where to Learn
• Start here: https://learnchef.opscode.com. Screencasts are a
perfect place to begin.
• Then go to http://...
My Favorite Chef Books
El Fin


Now go cook something delicious!
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Introduction to Chef: Automate Your Infrastructure by Modeling It In Code

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Presentation by Josh Padnick given at Desert Code Camp on April 5, 2014. Introduces OpsCode Chef with a special emphasis on learning the key Chef concepts. Also includes tips & tricks and references to best practices.

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Introduction to Chef: Automate Your Infrastructure by Modeling It In Code

  1. 1. Automate Your Server Configuration! by Modeling It In Code Josh Padnick Desert Code Camp April 5, 2014
  2. 2. Today’s 5-Course Meal • What is Chef and what does it solve? • Key Chef concepts • Where/How you use it • Tips & tricks • Learning more
  3. 3. Our Goal Today: You go home tonight and deploy your first Chef cookbook in 1 - 2 hours.
  4. 4. • Founder & CIO of Omedix • Special interest in Healthcare IT • 10+ years doing web app dev • Strong preference for open source & Java ecosystem Josh Padnick These slides are posted on http://joshpadnick.com
  5. 5. Some Problems from the Server Management World
  6. 6. “The Magic Server” The code doesn't work on any server except the magic server. We're afraid to touch it.
  7. 7. “Just Clone Another Instance” You can’t setup a dev machine quickly, but you're virtualizing and at least you can clone it.
  8. 8. “We have AMIs! But we need to change them :(“ You can clone a server, but your snapshot (AMI) needs to be changed...so you have to rebuild the AMI.
  9. 9. “I have a simple script to deploy! to 10 different servers” The script is small and simple, but deploying it to 10 servers is painful, so updates to this script will not be permitted!
  10. 10. Documentation is time-consuming and always out of date. But we still need to ramp up the new guy. “Documentation is critical…but out of date.”
  11. 11. "Deploying a new server takes too long" ! "This server here is broken so let's spend hours restoring it because launching a new server is too hard." ! "Changing the deployment process will take time we don't have" !
  12. 12. Are you actively managing more than a few servers on an ongoing basis? Welcome to! SERVER MANAGEMENT HELL
  13. 13. What is the underlying issue here? The real problem is STATE.
  14. 14. But wait, haven’t we dealt with state before? Only since 1937 when Alan Turing invented the state machine.
  15. 15. What does the Chef solution look like?
  16. 16. The Servers
  17. 17. The Servers Management Server
  18. 18. The Servers Management Server This guy is the authority on what state each server should be in
  19. 19. The Servers Management Server Local Workstation
  20. 20. The Servers Each of these guys installs an agent called the CHEF CLIENT Management Server Local Workstation
  21. 21. The Servers Each of these guys installs an agent called the CHEF CLIENT Management Server Local Workstation This guy is the authority on what state each server should be in
  22. 22. The Servers Each of these guys installs an agent called the CHEF CLIENT Management Server Local Workstation This guy is the authority on what state each server should be in The DevOps engineer pushes all instructions to the Management Server
  23. 23. Now let’s use all the Chef lingo.
  24. 24. Nodes Chef Server Knife
  25. 25. Nodes Chef Server Knife Write code that describes the state of a node and deploy it to Chef Server
  26. 26. Write code that describes the state of a node and deploy it to Chef Server Has the official record of what each server’s state SHOULD be Nodes Chef Server Knife
  27. 27. Each node periodically polls the Chef Server asking for “update state” instructions Has the official record of what each server’s state SHOULD be Nodes Chef Server Knife
  28. 28. Each node updates its state! based on instructions from the management server. Nodes Chef Server Knife
  29. 29. Nodes Chef Server Knife Each Node’s state has been updated!
  30. 30. Did someone say we’re writing code? • Write it in Ruby 2.x • Chef gives us a Ruby DSL specially for declaring server state • Version-control it with anything, but standard is git
  31. 31. We’ll go into more Chef detail later. Let’s pan out to the 50,000 foot view again.
  32. 32. Chef is considered a Configuration Management! Solution
  33. 33. What is Configuration Management? • A tool used to manage server configuration
 with automation. • Born out of the need for major websites (Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo) to manage huge numbers of servers.
  34. 34. Who Created Chef? Jesse Robbins Adam Jacob Managed lots of Amazon.com servers Real-life fire fighter! Built infrastructure for 15 companies Kept seeing the same patterns!
  35. 35. Alternatives to Chef • Ansible • Saltstack • Puppet
  36. 36. DevOps • Chef merges the worlds of Development (Dev) and SysAdmin (Ops). • Dev: build software, version control, automated testing • Ops: provisioning servers, maintaining servers, monitoring
  37. 37. Let’s talk more about key concepts in Chef.
  38. 38. • The primary currency in Chef is the Cookbook. • That’s the set of code and files we use to tell a server what state to update itself to.
  39. 39. • Sample cookbooks • MySQL • Nginx • Install Java • Update crontab • Update timezone • Add SSH certificates to authorized_certificates
  40. 40. • You can roll your own • But for almost every need, just search GitHub • google “github java cookbook” and choose the best one • Opscode has “Community Cookbooks at http:// community.opscode.com/cookbooks but I find it out of date and incomplete.
  41. 41. Sample Cookbook • Recipes are individual sets of instructions to be executed. • Recipes read values from Attributes for things like:! • Passwords • Filepaths • Usernames • Configuration options for applications
  42. 42. Sample Recipe File
  43. 43. Sample Attributes File
  44. 44. Attributes • How attributes get applied to a recipe are behind much of the perceived complexity of Chef. • We’ll cover this in more detail later.
  45. 45. Let’s see how a cookbook ultimately gets executed on a node.
  46. 46. Nodes Chef Server Knife At your workstation, download or write a new cookbook. Let’s call it “Sample”.
  47. 47. Nodes Chef Server Knife Upload your cookbook to the Chef Server using KNIFE.
  48. 48. Nodes Chef Server Knife Now has the latest version of the “Sample” cookbook.
  49. 49. Nodes Chef Server Knife Use KNIFE to tell CHEF SERVER the RUN-LIST for a specific node.
  50. 50. Nodes Chef Server Knife Now knows that Node 32 should run the “Sample” cookbook.
  51. 51. Nodes Chef Server Knife SSH directly into an individual node (“Node 32”) and run “sudo chef- client” to CONVERGE the node.
  52. 52. Nodes Chef Server Knife Node 32 uses chef-client to contact Chef Server. It get its updated run-list, and executes the run list.
  53. 53. Nodes Chef Server Knife Node 32’s run-list says to run the Sample Cookbook. It runs the latest version of Sample.
  54. 54. Nodes Chef Server Knife Node 32 has now executed all the instructions in the latest version of the “Sample” cookbook
  55. 55. Wait, we have to manually log into each node to update it? • No! In production, we use Roles to specify a run-list. • This way, we only update the Chef Server. Individual nodes poll the Chef Server every X minutes to check for updates.
  56. 56. Where Chef is Used
  57. 57. • Traditional Chef Server • AWS OpsWorks • Clould Management (Scalr & RightScale) • Vagrant
  58. 58. Traditional Chef Server Nodes Chef Server Knife
  59. 59. Traditional Chef Server • Chef Server comes in Open Source or Enterprise Edition • Chef Server is “on premise” or hosted by Opsworks
  60. 60. Enterprise Chef Pricing http://www.getchef.com/enterprise-chef/#plans-pricing
  61. 61. AWS OpsWorks Local Workstation
  62. 62. Different Flavors of Chef-Client • Server Mode • Chef Solo Mode • Local Mode
  63. 63. Cloud Management Services (e.g. Scalr & RightScale) Nodes Local Workstation
  64. 64. • It’s a command-line interface to virtual machine software like VirtualBox or VMWAre.
  65. 65. • You can combine Chef’s cookbooks, VirtualBox (a free VM provider), and Vagrant to run chef cookbooks directly on local VM’s! • The same cookbooks that define your infrastructure can now define your local dev environment.
  66. 66. • Get the latest cookbooks on your local machine • Run a bunch of VM’s with VirtualBox and Vagrant • Update the VM’s with Chef cookbooks Local Workstation
  67. 67. Remaining Chef Concepts
  68. 68. http://docs.opscode.com/chef_overview.html
  69. 69. Remaining Concepts We’ll Talk About • Roles • Environments • Data Bags • Ohai • Source Control & Chef
  70. 70. Remaining Concepts We Won’t Cover • Resources • Providers • LWRPs
  71. 71. All those remaining concepts we’ll cover fall into two buckets: 1. Attributes 2. Run-lists
  72. 72. Attributes • Can be set in multiple places
  73. 73. Ohai • It’s a program that runs on each node and supplies attribute info specific to that node. • Examples • What OS the node is running • How much hard drive space • How much memory is available • Linux kernel version
  74. 74. Roles • The Run-List is usually the same for all servers at the same “layer” in the stack and different across layers. Runlist[Apt, Sample, Apache] Runlist[Apt, Java, Tomcat, JBoss] Runlist[Apt, Postgres, Newrelic] “web” Role “app” Role “db” Role
  75. 75. Roles • Roles can also specify attributes that OVERRIDE the “default” attributes set in the Recipe. • When a new node is created (“bootstrapped”) it is best practice to explicitly identify which Role it belongs to. • Roles are declared as a simple JSON file and uploaded to Chef Server using Knife.
  76. 76. Nodes Chef Server Knife
  77. 77. Nodes Chef Server Knife Use KNIFE to bootstrap a new NODE with the “web” ROLE.
  78. 78. Nodes Chef Server Knife A new NODE exists that is assigned to the “web” role
  79. 79. Nodes Chef Server Knife Use KNIFE to update the “web” ROLE to add a new RECIPE to the RUN-LIST.
  80. 80. Nodes Chef Server Knife The “web” role has been updated.
  81. 81. Nodes Chef Server Knife New Node polls the CHEF SERVER every X minutes to look for updates.
  82. 82. Nodes Chef Server Knife The “web” ROLE now includes a new RECIPE so download this COOKBOOK and run the RECIPE
  83. 83. Nodes Chef Server Knife All nodes in the “web” role have “CONVERGED.”
  84. 84. Sample Role
  85. 85. Environments • We typically have a PROD and DEV. Maybe QA and STAGING, or others. • Environments are just another label to assign to a node so that it gets the right attributes. • Just like Roles! But with a different name and intent.
  86. 86. Data Bags • Data Bags are a global source of attributes that any recipe can call upon. • They work great for global attributes • Not so great for secrets like passwords. More on this later.
  87. 87. Source Control & Chef • Your local chef repo should be cloned from https:// github.com/opscode/chef-repo. • Then commit it to your own Git repo so you can version-control changes to Cookbooks, Roles, Environments, Data Bags, etc. • Now you version-control your infrastructure just like your code itself!
  88. 88. Attribute Hierarchy • Hard to learn just by looking. Learn by doing.
  89. 89. Tips & Tricks Also hard to remember. Intended for reference!
  90. 90. Storing Secrets in Your Infrastructure • This is a very hard problem! Let’s look at some options. • Option 1: The official Chef solution is encrypted data bags. But the main problem is all nodes and the Chef server share the same symmetric encryption key :(. So how do we securely transport and protect that key? • Option 2: Nordstrom uses Chef and created something called Chef Vault to replace the symmetric encryption key of encrypted data bags with public key infrastructure. Works well, but creates the “chicken and egg” problem where a server can’t register itself with chef-vault until it’s bootstrapped, but needs secrets from chef-vault to bootstrap itself. • BEST OPTION for AWS! Option 3: Use Citadel. (https://github.com/ balanced-cookbooks/citadel). Store all your secrets in an S3 bucket. Lock down S3 with AWS IAM Users. Assign each EC2 instance (node) to an IAM Role which automatically grants access to that instance to the S3 buckets we specify. No keys to manage b/c Amazon does it for us!
  91. 91. Open Source Chef Server Tips • Follow the instructions at http://docs.opscode.com/install_server.html • Go to http://www.getchef.com/chef/install/ to get the URL for the file download • To setup the Fully Qualified Domain Name (i.e. hostname) for Ubuntu, do this: • Setup a DNS name for the server (chef.mybiz.com) • sudo vim /etc/hostname and enter the hostname to handle server reboots • sudo hostname chef.mybiz.com to change the hostname for the current session 
 • Immediately setup a user/pass for yourself so that admin remains a "root" account. • For AWS, a m1.small instance is sufficient for now. • You will need backup and monitoring for this server. • See http://www.getchef.com/blog/2013/03/11/chef-11-server-up-and-running/ for more info. • You can bootstrap Chef Server with Chef Solo! See https://github.com/opscode-cookbooks/ chef-server
  92. 92. Tips for Setting Up Knife • When you run knife configure --initial use your local paths for the admin.pem and the chef- validator.pem • At some point, you'll need to download files from /etc/chef-server folder on the Chef Server in order to get Knife up and running. • You'll need to modify your knife.rb file (e.g. to point to your cookbooks path) to get things working right. Errors caused by this are not well documented. Here's my knife.rb: Joshs-MacBook-Pro:.chef josh$ vim knife.rb ! ! log_level :info! log_location STDOUT! node_name 'josh'! client_key '/Users/josh/.chef/josh.pem'! validation_client_name 'chef-validator'! validation_key '/repos/chef-repo/.chef/chef-validator.pem'! chef_server_url 'https://chef.projname.mybiz.com'! syntax_check_cache_path '/Users/josh/.chef/syntax_check_cache'! cookbook_path '/repos/chef-repo/cookbooks'! knife[:aws_access_key_id] = "Your AWS Access Key ID"! knife[:aws_secret_access_key] = "Your AWS Secret Access Key"! knife[:region] = "us-west-2"! knife[:vpc_id] = "vpc-XXXXXXX"
  93. 93. Writing Cookbooks • Having a fast feedback loop is key. Also don’t want to rack up AWS costs. • Ideal environment for writing cookbooks is EC2 tiny instances with a Chef Server or use Chef Solo with Vagrant. • Use test-kitchen to help manage your Vagrant environment. • User berkshelf to help manage cookbook dependencies (if it’s getting out of hand)
  94. 94. Helpful Ruby Tips • I knew zero Ruby when I started and got by fine. Here are the only confusing things I encountered: • In Ruby, :stringLiteral is called a “symbol” and is equivalent to “stringLiteral”. See http://www.reactive.io/tips/2009/01/11/the-difference- between-ruby-symbols-and-strings/ • A “heredoc” refers simply to a multiline string and is begun by <<EOH and ended with EOH on a newline. • Everything else is pretty straightforward.
  95. 95. Getting Started & Learning More
  96. 96. Start with These Milestones 1. Setup Chef Server (hosted or on-premise) 2. Setup Knife 3. Setup Vagrant environment 4. Write (or download) Cookbooks!
  97. 97. Where to Learn • Start here: https://learnchef.opscode.com. Screencasts are a perfect place to begin. • Then go to http://docs.opscode.com (walkthrough) for more info. • Check out http://gettingstartedwithchef.com as another reference. • Study other people’s cookbooks to get ideas. The postgresql cookbook is very well done. • #chef on IRC was very helpful for me. • The initial learning curve is somewhat steep, but it quickly becomes fun!
  98. 98. My Favorite Chef Books
  99. 99. El Fin 
 Now go cook something delicious!

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