Chef vs Terraform: What are the differences?
What is 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.
What is Terraform? Describe your complete infrastructure as code and build resources across providers. 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.
Chef and Terraform are primarily classified as "Server Configuration and Automation" and "Infrastructure Build" tools respectively.
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, Terraform provides the following key features:
- Infrastructure as Code: Infrastructure is described using a high-level configuration syntax. This allows a blueprint of your datacenter to be versioned and treated as you would any other code. Additionally, infrastructure can be shared and re-used.
- Execution Plans: Terraform has a "planning" step where it generates an execution plan. The execution plan shows what Terraform will do when you call apply. This lets you avoid any surprises when Terraform manipulates infrastructure.
- Resource Graph: Terraform builds a graph of all your resources, and parallelizes the creation and modification of any non-dependent resources. Because of this, Terraform builds infrastructure as efficiently as possible, and operators get insight into dependencies in their infrastructure.
"Dynamic and idempotent server configuration" is the top reason why over 104 developers like Chef, while over 80 developers mention "Infrastructure as code" as the leading cause for choosing Terraform.
Chef and Terraform are both open source tools. It seems that Terraform with 17.4K GitHub stars and 4.77K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Chef with 5.83K GitHub stars and 2.35K GitHub forks.
According to the StackShare community, Terraform has a broader approval, being mentioned in 489 company stacks & 298 developers stacks; compared to Chef, which is listed in 359 company stacks and 80 developer stacks.
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