Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Infrastructure Automation Company Chef Commits to Open Source

Infrastructure Automation Company Chef Commits to Open Source

This item in japanese

Chef, an infrastructure automation company, has committed to developing all of their software as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. Alongside this change, Chef announced the release of Chef Enterprise Automation Stack, an enterprise-focused commercial offering that includes development, distribution, licensing, and support for Chef software.

Chef CEO Barry Crist believes the transition to fully open source better aligns with the business goals.

This philosophy is core to the way that we think about software innovation. There is no better way to build software than in the open in partnership with individuals and companies who use our stack in the real world.

Prior to the announcement, Chef has operated with a loose open-core model, in which limited "core" features of the software are open source alongside proprietary add-on software. Chef previously applied this model by making their software open source for everyone but proprietary for commercial use. According to Crist, this approach created a constant challenge of balancing what features belong in the open source offering versus the proprietary offering.

Chef's open source model enables the use of their software without restrictions on the use case, distribution, or monetization of the source code as long as the Chef trademark policy is respected. Chef welcomes the use of their software for any purpose that aligns with the four essential freedoms of free software, which states that free software gives users the right to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.

Chef Enterprise Automation Stack (EAS) is a new commercial offering for enterprise companies. EAS is an infrastructure automation solution that combines all of Chef's stand alone tools: Chef Automate, Chef Infra, Chef InSpec, Chef Habitat and Chef Workstation. Chef EAS enables teams to encapsulate infrastructure, security policies, and dependencies as code, and to deploy, observe, and manage the application lifecycle.

Chef's switch to an open source business model is counter to recent cases of open source companies adopting more restrictive licensing in order to remain competitive with cloud providers. One of the best known examples is Redis Labs, who changed the licensing of some of their enterprise modules to prevent them from being used in stand-alone commercial SAAS products. With fears that cloud computing will kill open source, Chef's change is a counterpoint that the open source model might still be viable in the cloud industry. In the DevOps space specifically, several companies operate with an open source business model, such as HashiCorp, Puppet, and CloudBees, the creators of Jenkins.

The changes to the Chef business model will not affect existing commercial or non-commercial customers. New customers or current customers using free Chef offerings can choose to license the new commercial software, use the open source code, leverage a free public distribution, or stay on older free distributions. However, existing free distributions will no longer be supported or receive security updates starting 1 year after Chef 15 is released.

Chef has created an FAQ page for more information about their open source decision. Visit the Chef website to learn about the Enterprise Automation Stack.

Rate this Article