Why it is not possible to buy Chef Manage (web console) separately

We have been using Chef11 since 2014 and now start upgrading to Chef 12.
We have 6 different Chef servers on different datacenters, each managing around 100 nodes
It is really a cool automation framework, which allows to capture all required steps in the idempotent way and delegate the further maintenance and provisioning operations to be done via Web Interface (Management console) to less experienced members of the team, who are not familiar with Chef knife and other specific tools.

Free usage of Manage console is limited to 25 nodes only.
As such, upgrading to Chef 12 we would really like to keep ability to use the Manage console for the team
However, as we discovered after negotiations with Chef commercial team, it is not possible to get a license just for Manage console, they push us to buy Chef Automate instead. Chef Automate is a great tool and can get really handy for us in some future, but for the moment we do not have enough resources and plans to migrate to it immediately.

We just want keep the webinterface access to chef server and are not ready to pay 600*$132 yearly for that.
So my question is - been so flexible in the way you can manage your infrastructure, why Chef is not so flexible in the way you can buy parts of the enterprise solution as you need it.

The answer really starts to dig into the specifics of Chef’s sales strategies and things we’ve learned selling software over the past years.

The best answer I am able to give without digging in too much is that selling items piecemeal has proven extremely challenging. We want everyone to have a first class experience when using Chef but this becomes more complicated as shops pick and choose items - with a singular offering we can come closer to guaranteeing both Chef’s success as well as the success of our customers. As an aside, the list price also didn’t rise dramatically either - if anything customers are getting more value/functionality/software per dollar.

The market for just ManageUI is very small and as a company whose business it is to sell software, that is statistically and tactically a poor investment. Moreover many of the functions of the MangeUI interface are being migrated into Automate’s Visibility. The reasons effectively come down to “business reality” which you’re welcome to disagree with but at the end of the day are Chef’s to make.

That said, I’d take a moment to consider that you are running 6 different chef-servers and what sounds like 600 nodes for free. It is our commercial success that allows us to continue to be a company that makes and supports open source efforts.

I know this answer may not be ideal but hopefully this sheds some light on why we’ve taken this approach. Of course all approaches are subject to change as market and business demands change but for the near term this is the strategy we’ve found most effective across our customer base.


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If Manage is not a feature that is seen as core to the Chef business strategy, perhaps it’s time to make it part of the open-source license? :slight_smile:

First of all, thank you @cheeseplus for the detailed answer. As I said before, we really enjoy using Chef and I believe the fact that core Chef functionality is available as opensource is playing an important role in its market success especially when justifying the choice of Configuration management framework before you Financial department :slight_smile:
I clearly understand that Chef has to monetize this success with some premium add-ons and maintenace contract solutions, that can allow it to go further and propose even more awesome functionality to people. And we actually support Chef in this both by submitting PRs to opensource components and by participating in the trainings and conferences, passing certifications, willing to pay for the additional functionality we need, that will make our life easier.

However, now with AWS and other cloud providers available - you do not need to be a big company to reach the level of 25+ nodes to be managed. Right now Chef provides additional functionality for on-premises installation only as all-in-one solution (Chef Automate). Sorry to say, but this model slightly reminds me the Oracle approach, where many really useful features (like management pack) are available only as part of the Enterprise Edition, which is costly and provides many features the small-medium companies will never use.

Chef Automate is a great tool, with a lot of components we would like to have but right now it is just too big to consume for us, as you do not only pay for the license but also for the implementation, change of workflows, hire of new team members etc. We already have some automation for Chef contionuos delivery and so would like to migrate to Chef Automate progressively, on our own pace. As such, first step would be to migrate from Chef11 to Chef12 with maintaining the existing level of functionality and comfort for the team.

So you can download the required component like Manage Console or HA separately, test and approve it but not able to buy. So instead of paying and supporting Chef we need to search for other solution like re-implementing the console based on Chef API or automating the most commonly used tasks with Rundeck, which makes me sad.

Thank you.

@dreamnite that’s unfortunately not ever going to be possible because ManageUI, which was initially commercial only has non-free code so we cannot even if it was desired.