we’ve been using an interesting pattern based on ideas that have been
around a while, that’s been working pretty well for us, but i haven’t seen
discussed much. i’ve been meaning to write up a blog post about (just as
soon as i find that 25th hour in the day). here’s a quick overview, happy
to flesh out any details if you have questions.
we’re a 2-person ops team in a medium-sized org with about 50 nodes, mixed
about 90/10 between VMs and physical gear. not sure how well this would
scale to a bigger setup, but not seeing any bottlenecks at present, except
that cookbook promotion is more manual than i would like, which we’re
planning on fixing with some CI pipeline stuff. anyways… the details:
we refuse to set attributes in roles, and just use them for runlist
management. nodes get roles in the runlist, roles get recipes (e.g.
app::default and app::monitoring). roles roughly correlate to suites in our
test-kitchen configuration (i.e. monitoring cookbook has both client and
server suites and corresponding roles)
we use wrapper, library, and application cookbooks. our application
cookbooks roughly map to roles, with a few exceptions.
we run our own berkshelf-api service that hooks into our hosted-chef org,
and use a berksfile with just the metadata config in each cookbook repo.
the cookbook-berksfile has our berks-api listed as a source, and the
berksfile.lock is in the .gitignore, and uploading new cookbooks is done
with berks upload from the cookbook repo.
we then have an infrastructure repo, where we keep documentation, runbooks,
maintenance plans (ops stuff that isn’t software), and “the” Berksfile that
lists all of our org-specific cookbooks. the infrastructure repo has one
branch per environment. promoting a cookbook is just a matter of berks
updating a cookbook (berks update myface) after it’s been uploaded, and
berks applying to the environment that corresponds to the relevant branch
(we initially envisioned promoting from staging->prod via PRs of the diff
to the Berksfile.lock, but it turned out to be a hassle, so we just handle
it manually for now). this also provides a nice audit-log in the form of
the git-log if something should go wrong, and visibility into any dependent
or contingent cookbooks that may also be changed.
overall, this gives us really good control (by locking the environment with
berks apply) over what changes are released, without getting much in the way
that said, we don’t have a way to release an updated library cookbook or
community cookbook to a specific role. one version of each cookbook per
environment, period. i’ve heard of people addressing this with
role-cookbooks, but it hasn’t been a problem for us in practice yet, so
we’re not using them. i expect we’ll switch to policyfiles before
introducing role-cookbooks, and we’re eagerly watching policyfile support
hope that helps!
On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 11:59 AM, Matt Juszczak email@example.com wrote:
Thanks for the suggestion!
On Jan 5, 2015, at 6:02 AM, Torben Knerr firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
My favorite approach is to use a “top-level cookbook”. A top-level
cookbook roughly represents a VM. It is essentially the same as an
"environment cookbook" but uses metadata.rb for locking the dependency
graph rather than environments.
This lets you use environments for representing your infrastructure
environments rather than (ab?)using them for locking dependency
graphs. The only cookbook dependency you have in the environment is
the one to the top-level cookbook (all others come in transitively via
Word of caution: I’m using this with chef-solo and have not checked
whether this way of keeping metadata.rb and Berksfile.lock in sync
(https://gist.github.com/tknerr/4e3236d00ceba917abea) works with
chef-client too. If not, you might want to us a generative approach
On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 12:04 AM, Matt Juszczak email@example.com wrote:
Agreed!! Thanks for the help! It’s worth mentioning that "poise-appenv"
seems to try to solve this problem.
On Jan 4, 2015, at 7:08 AM, Christine Draper
Your analysis makes a lot of sense to me. We need a way to separate the
inherent variances between infrastructure environments as one
the through-time release (“code”) variances as another.
On Sat, Jan 3, 2015 at 10:09 PM, Matt Juszczak firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
It makes sense to me to create a base ‘myface’ cookbook that knows how
to set up the logical components of the application like database
application servers, the actual application code etc. I’d consider
be an application cookbook, one that you could then reuse in multiple
contexts (e.g. the different production data centers). Perhaps it
even be reused in different lifecycle phases (prod, staging, systest).
The above might become an environment cookbook if you use it to lock
down the cookbook versioning for actual deployments.
Gotcha. So in this case, the application cookbook and environment
are literally the same thing and you don’t have BOTH. An application
cookbook simply becomes an environment cookbook once a Berksfile.lock
checked in. Jamie mentions that application cookbooks and environment
cookbooks don’t differ much, except to me it’s been unclear whether
an environment cookbook for an app replaces the functionality of the
application cookbook all-together (simply by now having a
revision control). I think I got it now.
In your case it sounds like intend the east and west data centers to
part of one overall production environment and want to keep them in
from a cookbook (and application software) version perspective. If
environment cookbook could be ‘myface-prod’ and consist of little
a berksfile.lock plus attributes to customize the application cookbook
specifically for prod environment.
I’m thinking we would make our environment cookbooks code
only. In other words, while a prod environment might have static
that differ from a staging environment and will always differ, it
the environment cookbook pattern that Jamie describes is about
SDLC. You apply version 1.0.1 of a cookbook to your staging
eventually that makes its way to prod. Therefore, to me, it makes
have a “myface” environment cookbook that can be versioned, and
berkflow tool to promote different versions of that cookbook through
But that still doesn’t solve the problem of infrastructure
(IE: configuration that applies to servers in the staging environment
never the prod environment and vice versa). For example, if you deploy
version 1.0.0 of myface to staging, you’re eventually going to deploy
to production. However, if you deploy changes to “staging environment
configuration” (perhaps network addresses?), you likely aren’t going
those configuration parameters to production any time soon. That
configuration is strictly for the staging infrastructure environment!
The key question is how you can then add in the ‘east’ and ‘west’ data
center variances. Environment files for myface-prod-east and
myface-prod-west would seem a decent option, if the variances are
simple attribute differences, and particularly if the variances were
relatively independent/orthogonal to the application (e.g. updating
networking information for one data center is relatively independent
changes to the myface application). You’d likely want to version the
environment definitions externally in source control. You may need to
coordinate cookbook changes with environment changes, in the case
application change requires networking changes in the two data
Based on your feedback, and the more I think about this, the more I
it does make sense to create more environment files in chef server and
maintain them in revision control. These environment files would
both application (managed by berkflow) and infrastructure environment
configuration options (such as network configuration). Therefore, we
likely create something like:
and use berkflow to manage version pinning:
blo upgrade myface-prod-useast myface
blo upgrade myface-prod-uswest myface
…and simply build a wrapper tool to upgrade all “prod” environments
once that calls blo upgrade numerous times. Meanwhile, the environments
above (myface-prod-useast) have specific configuration for servers in
environment, such as network configuration.
Thanks for your insight. I’m still curious to hear some other opinions
it’s good to know others have been confused on this and I’m not missing