Chef introduces Habitat, its open source project that automates applications

Chef announced Tuesday Habitat, its open source project that introduces a new approach for application automation. Applications packaged with Habitat have the intelligence to self-organize and self-configure.

Habitat makes applications independent of underlying infrastructure, so it is easy to run applications across increasingly diverse environments such as containers, PaaS, cloud infrastructure and on-premise data centers.

The Habitat project offers a new approach to application management. Habitat makes the application and its automation the unit of deployment. When applications are wrapped in a lightweight “habitat,” the runtime environment, whether it is a container, bare metal, or PaaS, is no longer the focus and does not constrain the application.

Habitat packages include everything that an application needs to run, throughout its lifecycle. Habitat’s core components are:Packaging format. Applications in a Habitat package are atomic, immutable and auditable.Supervisor. The Habitat supervisor runs application packages with awareness of the packages’ peer relationships, upgrade strategy and security policies. The Habitat supervisor configures and manages the application for whatever environment is present.

The Habitat ecosystem also provides a build service that takes a Habitat build plan, creates the Habitat package, and publishes it to a depot.

With Habitat applications can run, unmodified, in any runtime environment, from bare metal and virtual machines, to containers like Docker and cluster-management systems like Mesosphere or Kubernetes, and PaaS systems like Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

When legacy applications are wrapped in a Habitat package, they become independent of the environment for which they were originally designed. They can quickly be moved to more modern environments such as the cloud and containers. Also, because Habitat packages have a standard, outward-facing interface, legacy applications become much easier to manage.

Habitat reduces the complexity of managing containers in production environments. By automating application configuration within a container, Habitat addresses the challenges developers face when moving container-based applications from development environments into production. As the Habitat project is sponsored by Chef, it leverages Chef’s experience with infrastructure automation to bring unprecedented automation capabilities to applications. Chef will offer commercial support for Habitat and ensure seamless integration between Habitat and Chef Delivery to fully automate the application release cycle, from development to deployment.

Companies have extensive digital presence with many custom applications. As these applications have grown in complexity, so has the burden of managing them. Traditionally, infrastructure has dictated the design of the application. Habitat takes the opposite view and puts the application front and center. As a result, companies can focus on business value and planning features that will make their products stand out rather than on the constraints of infrastructure and particular runtime environments.

Whether greenfield or legacy, any application that is deployed using a Habitat package has the intelligence to be aware of and react to its environment. Habitat’s novel approach to packaging allows the application to be independent of any particular infrastructure environment. Habitat also provides an interface that simplifies common tasks such as monitoring, safe deployment of new features and the creation of peer relationships that are required for production systems.

From a developer’s perspective, by wrapping applications in Habitat packages, application teams don’t have to worry about a particular runtime until they’re ready to deploy. As Habitat flexibly handles the management of the application, teams are no longer responsible for creating their own management solutions over and over again. With Habitat, developers can focus on new products and features that move the business forward.

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