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Chef vs Kubernetes: What are the differences?

Developers describe Chef as "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. On the other hand, Kubernetes is detailed as "Manage a cluster of Linux containers as a single system to accelerate Dev and simplify Ops". Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.

Chef can be classified as a tool in the "Server Configuration and Automation" category, while Kubernetes is grouped under "Container Tools".

Some of the features offered by Chef are:

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

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

  • Lightweight, simple and accessible
  • Built for a multi-cloud world, public, private or hybrid
  • Highly modular, designed so that all of its components are easily swappable

"Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" is the primary reason why developers consider Chef over the competitors, whereas "Leading docker container management solution" was stated as the key factor in picking Kubernetes.

Chef and Kubernetes are both open source tools. Kubernetes with 55.1K GitHub stars and 19.1K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Chef with 5.86K GitHub stars and 2.36K GitHub forks.

Google, Slack, and Shopify are some of the popular companies that use Kubernetes, whereas Chef is used by Airbnb, Facebook, and Slack. Kubernetes has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1046 company stacks & 1096 developers stacks; compared to Chef, which is listed in 360 company stacks and 80 developer stacks.

Advice on Chef and Kubernetes
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Puppet LabsPuppet LabsChefChef
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AnsibleAnsible

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
AnsibleAnsible

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa
Recommends
KubernetesKubernetes
at

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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Decisions about Chef and Kubernetes
Simon Reymann
Senior Fullstack Developer at QUANTUSflow Software GmbH · | 29 upvotes · 4.4M views

Our whole DevOps stack consists of the following tools:

  • GitHub (incl. GitHub Pages/Markdown for Documentation, GettingStarted and HowTo's) for collaborative review and code management tool
  • Respectively Git as revision control system
  • SourceTree as Git GUI
  • Visual Studio Code as IDE
  • CircleCI for continuous integration (automatize development process)
  • Prettier / TSLint / ESLint as code linter
  • SonarQube as quality gate
  • Docker as container management (incl. Docker Compose for multi-container application management)
  • VirtualBox for operating system simulation tests
  • Kubernetes as cluster management for docker containers
  • Heroku for deploying in test environments
  • nginx as web server (preferably used as facade server in production environment)
  • SSLMate (using OpenSSL) for certificate management
  • Amazon EC2 (incl. Amazon S3) for deploying in stage (production-like) and production environments
  • PostgreSQL as preferred database system
  • Redis as preferred in-memory database/store (great for caching)

The main reason we have chosen Kubernetes over Docker Swarm is related to the following artifacts:

  • Key features: Easy and flexible installation, Clear dashboard, Great scaling operations, Monitoring is an integral part, Great load balancing concepts, Monitors the condition and ensures compensation in the event of failure.
  • Applications: An application can be deployed using a combination of pods, deployments, and services (or micro-services).
  • Functionality: Kubernetes as a complex installation and setup process, but it not as limited as Docker Swarm.
  • Monitoring: It supports multiple versions of logging and monitoring when the services are deployed within the cluster (Elasticsearch/Kibana (ELK), Heapster/Grafana, Sysdig cloud integration).
  • Scalability: All-in-one framework for distributed systems.
  • Other Benefits: Kubernetes is backed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), huge community among container orchestration tools, it is an open source and modular tool that works with any OS.
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Pros of Chef
Pros of Kubernetes
  • 109
    Dynamic and idempotent server configuration
  • 76
    Reusable components
  • 47
    Integration testing with Vagrant
  • 43
    Repeatable
  • 30
    Mock testing with Chefspec
  • 14
    Ruby
  • 8
    Can package cookbooks to guarantee repeatability
  • 7
    Works with AWS
  • 3
    Has marketplace where you get readymade cookbooks
  • 3
    Matured product with good community support
  • 2
    Less declarative more procedural
  • 2
    Open source configuration mgmt made easy(ish)
  • 161
    Leading docker container management solution
  • 126
    Simple and powerful
  • 103
    Open source
  • 75
    Backed by google
  • 56
    The right abstractions
  • 24
    Scale services
  • 19
    Replication controller
  • 9
    Permission managment
  • 7
    Simple
  • 7
    Supports autoscaling
  • 6
    Cheap
  • 4
    Self-healing
  • 4
    No cloud platform lock-in
  • 4
    Reliable
  • 3
    Open, powerful, stable
  • 3
    Scalable
  • 3
    Quick cloud setup
  • 3
    Promotes modern/good infrascture practice
  • 2
    Backed by Red Hat
  • 2
    Cloud Agnostic
  • 2
    Runs on azure
  • 2
    Custom and extensibility
  • 2
    Captain of Container Ship
  • 2
    A self healing environment with rich metadata
  • 1
    Golang
  • 1
    Easy setup
  • 1
    Everything of CaaS
  • 1
    Sfg
  • 1
    Expandable
  • 1
    Gke

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Cons of Chef
Cons of Kubernetes
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 15
      Poor workflow for development
    • 13
      Steep learning curve
    • 7
      Orchestrates only infrastructure
    • 4
      High resource requirements for on-prem clusters
    • 1
      Additional vendor lock-in (Docker)
    • 1
      Additional Technology Overhead
    • 1
      More moving parts to secure
    • 1
      Too heavy for simple systems

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    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.

    What is Kubernetes?

    Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    Jobs that mention Chef and Kubernetes as a desired skillset
    Pinterest
    San Francisco, CA, US; Atlanta, GA, US; New York, NY, US
    CBRE
    United States of America Texas Richardson
    CBRE
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland England London
    What companies use Chef?
    What companies use Kubernetes?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Chef or Kubernetes.
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    What tools integrate with Chef?
    What tools integrate with Kubernetes?

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    What are some alternatives to Chef and Kubernetes?
    Ansible
    Ansible is an IT automation tool. It can configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate more advanced IT tasks such as continuous deployments or zero downtime rolling updates. Ansible’s goals are foremost those of simplicity and maximum ease of use.
    Puppet Labs
    Puppet is an automated administrative engine for your Linux, Unix, and Windows systems and performs administrative tasks (such as adding users, installing packages, and updating server configurations) based on a centralized specification.
    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.
    Jenkins
    In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
    Capistrano
    Capistrano is a remote server automation tool. It supports the scripting and execution of arbitrary tasks, and includes a set of sane-default deployment workflows.
    See all alternatives