The Chef Win Series is a response to: "How has Chef changed our operations for the better, in the past 2 years since our shop adopted it?"   A perspective:

Claude Shannon formulated "Information Theory" over half a century ago, and it's still regarded as a transformational form of thinking, still an emerging piece of our zeitgeist.

It's biggest effect may be in your hand now - the mobile phone made it's biggest jump when signals shifted from TDMA to CDMA. Cliff Notes on that shift: with TDMA your conversation uses the entire channel for a chunk of time. With CDMA your conversation is just a part of the stream on that channel, making the capacity of the channel dramatically greater.

Chef and Information Theory?

Information Theory is about the relationship between the message and the channel it travels on. Chef is about making that relationship part of an automated stream, and not the entire conversation.

Before Chef (or Puppet or the like) the entire conversation simply stopped. The channel was blocked. Do our new code changes even work? That is the conversation. We need to wait for Ops to deploy our new server. Then we'll see how it all works. Message => Channel. The channel is blocked, until that Ops team says it isn't blocked any more.

Observe How Long It Took

TDMA moved to CDMA a pretty long time ago, but we're still digesting all the effects of the much greater channel capacity that was afforded us in our mobile phones. My phone habits are still changing this week, this month, as new apps and new capabilities roll out.

The effects of automated, idempotent deployment that Chef offers is no different, in that respect.

New Servers as a Non-Event

When you can virtually shut down an entire company with a single inadequate deployment - as happened 5 times for several hours each time, last Xmas shopping season with major online retailer - the relationship between the message (the deployment) and the channel (the process) is critical. Why didn't they simply deploy some more capacity each of the 5 occassions when their servers hit the wall? Oh, that's right! They aren't a Chef shop. Of course.

With Chef, this relationship between message and channel becomes a non-event. That's a nice thing for this relationship to become.