AWS CloudFormation vs Chef

AWS CloudFormation
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AWS CloudFormation vs Chef: What are the differences?

AWS CloudFormation: Create and manage a collection of related AWS resources. You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work; Chef: Build, destroy and rebuild servers on any public or private cloud. Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

AWS CloudFormation and Chef are primarily classified as "Infrastructure Build" and "Server Configuration and Automation" tools respectively.

Some of the features offered by AWS CloudFormation are:

  • AWS CloudFormation comes with the following ready-to-run sample templates: WordPress (blog),Tracks (project tracking), Gollum (wiki used by GitHub), Drupal (content management), Joomla (content management), Insoshi (social apps), Redmine (project mgmt)
  • No Need to Reinvent the Wheel – A template can be used repeatedly to create identical copies of the same stack (or to use as a foundation to start a new stack)
  • Transparent and Open – Templates are simple JSON formatted text files that can be placed under your normal source control mechanisms, stored in private or public locations such as Amazon S3 and exchanged via email.

On the other hand, Chef provides the following key features:

  • Access to 800+ Reusable Cookbooks
  • Integration with Leading Cloud Providers
  • Enterprise Platform Support including Windows and Solaris

"Automates infrastructure deployments" is the top reason why over 36 developers like AWS CloudFormation, while over 104 developers mention "Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" as the leading cause for choosing Chef.

Chef is an open source tool with 5.83K GitHub stars and 2.35K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Chef's open source repository on GitHub.

Slack, Shopify, and SendGrid are some of the popular companies that use Chef, whereas AWS CloudFormation is used by TimeHop, Custora, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Chef has a broader approval, being mentioned in 359 company stacks & 80 developers stacks; compared to AWS CloudFormation, which is listed in 195 company stacks and 75 developer stacks.

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What is AWS CloudFormation?

You can use AWS CloudFormation’s sample templates or create your own templates to describe the AWS resources, and any associated dependencies or runtime parameters, required to run your application. You don’t need to figure out the order in which AWS services need to be provisioned or the subtleties of how to make those dependencies work.

What is Chef?

Chef enables you to manage and scale cloud infrastructure with no downtime or interruptions. Freely move applications and configurations from one cloud to another. Chef is integrated with all major cloud providers including Amazon EC2, VMWare, IBM Smartcloud, Rackspace, OpenStack, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Google Compute Engine, Joyent Cloud and others.

Want advice about which of these to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

Why do developers choose AWS CloudFormation?
Why do developers choose Chef?

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    What companies use AWS CloudFormation?
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    What are some alternatives to AWS CloudFormation and Chef?
    AWS CodeDeploy
    AWS CodeDeploy is a service that automates code deployments to Amazon EC2 instances. AWS CodeDeploy makes it easier for you to rapidly release new features, helps you avoid downtime during deployment, and handles the complexity of updating your applications.
    Terraform
    With Terraform, you describe your complete infrastructure as code, even as it spans multiple service providers. Your servers may come from AWS, your DNS may come from CloudFlare, and your database may come from Heroku. Terraform will build all these resources across all these providers in parallel.
    AWS Elastic Beanstalk
    Once you upload your application, Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling, and application health monitoring.
    Packer
    Packer automates the creation of any type of machine image. It embraces modern configuration management by encouraging you to use automated scripts to install and configure the software within your Packer-made images.
    GeoEngineer
    GeoEngineer uses Terraform to plan and execute changes, so the DSL to describe resources is similar to Terraform's. GeoEngineer's DSL also provides programming and object oriented features like inheritance, abstraction, branching and looping.
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    Decisions about AWS CloudFormation and Chef
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    How developers use AWS CloudFormation and Chef
    Avatar of CloudRepo
    CloudRepo uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manually clicking around the AWS UI or scripting AWS CLI calls can be both a slow and brittle process.

    We needed to be able to reconstruct CloudRepo's infrastructure in case of disaster or moving to another AWS Region.

    Setting up our infrastructure with CloudFormation allows us to update it easily as well as duplicate or recreate things when the need arises.

    Avatar of Opstax Ltd
    Opstax Ltd uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Opstax uses CloudFormation for anything infrastructure related! CloudFormation allows us to use infrastructure-as-code as a constant blueprint/map of our environment. It means we can accurately and efficiently deploy replicated or new infrastructure with no time wasted clicking around and no human error.

    Avatar of Goyoboard
    Goyoboard uses ChefChef

    Out custom recipes makes it simple for developers bootstrap process (using vagrant) and that same recipe is also the one that is used to prep instances

    Avatar of Flux Work
    Flux Work uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manage infrastructure as codes. Native AWS solution so it has better support to AWS resources than Terraform, also can leverage AWS Business Support.

    Avatar of Zinc
    Zinc uses ChefChef

    We use Chef for our configuration management and our service discovery.

    Avatar of EverTrue
    EverTrue uses ChefChef

    Configuration management for any services not provided by AWS.

    Avatar of Hund
    Hund uses ChefChef

    Distributed application deployments and server configuration.

    Avatar of James Salas
    James Salas uses ChefChef

    Configuration and deployment of application

    Avatar of Endource
    Endource uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Manages the infrastructure for core website

    Avatar of Patty R
    Patty R uses AWS CloudFormationAWS CloudFormation

    Deploys and maintains the infrastructure.

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