It’s no secret that I think configuration management is epic. I spent yesterday hopping around the office in excitement due to Opscode’s alpha announcement of their new Cookbooks site. This is exactly the next step needed in the CM community. Shortly thereafter, while talking with another developer about how awesome Cookbooks is, he quipped about it being second in awesome to chef itself. I argue that chef exists for cookbooks, not the other way around. It was later said “Chef is the tool, cookbooks are the art”. Cookbooks is all about community.
Chef is a tool, and an open-source one, so it does have a community. A vibrant one at that; a recent ohloh factoid claims “This is one of the largest open-source teams in the world, and is in the top 2% of all project teams on Ohloh.” Cookbooks is the other way around, it is a community first and at tool second. Cookbooks has already been compared to github and launchpad (with PPAs), because like these sites it brings people with a common task together around a tool like git or ubuntu. It has been noted that every configuration management project needs something like Cookbooks, and I agree.
The community that builds around Cookbooks will be a vanguard of agile system administrators looking to reduce their undifferentiated heavy lifting. These include the people who recognized that it is their product that they are selling and no longer their infrastructure, and took up cloud computing as a result. They will soon find that the configuration management community will help them continue to spend less time reinventing the operations wheel, and more time innovating it. Cookbooks will make it easier to share infrastructure-code with like-minded individuals and is the next step beyond github and wikis for this material. These models still required concerted effort to share back with the community when you finished up your recipe, but the Cookbooks site and it’s open API stands to change that. We are now poised to leverage the open source model to increase the rise of infrastructure as code.