Azure Configuration Management Made Simple With Chef Automate

Microsoft Azure provides you with many pre-configured solutions to assist with your daily operational tasks in your IT environment.  One of the best options for deploying systems quickly to Azure is using Chef Automate.



Chef Automate is a point and click solution you can create within the Azure portal to assist you to package and test your applications, provision and update your infrastructure, and manage it all with compliance and security checks and dashboards that give you visibility into your entire stack.


Included in Chef Automate are the Chef Server for deployment to your servers, Habitat for deployment automation and Inspec for security and compliance.  Rather than deploy a number of different servers to run these tools, Chef Automate on Azure provides them all in a simple interface for you to access.  Chef Automate does require a license, but you’ll get 30 days for free when you leave the license section blank during the setup.

Getting Started

First, sign up for an Azure account.  You can go here to access the free trial and start working with the Azure cloud without any cost to you.  Next, go to the top of your Azure portal and just search for “Chef Automate.”


Select Chef Automate, then launch the configuration wizard using Azure Resource Manager by clicking “Create” at the bottom of the window.


After this you’ll be brought to a section where all the different configuration settings required for your new Chef Automate server will be set, we’ll start with “Basics” which is for naming, credentials, the resource group and the Azure region you’d like the server to live within.



I copy my public ssh key into the box, provide some basic details and click OK to move on to “Virtual Machine Settings.”



Section two concerns itself with the specifics related to the VM on the Azure Cloud that will host your Chef Automate server.  Here you’ll provide the details of the hardware you’ll want to use, the vnet you’ll connect to and the subnet the server will live on.  We’ll also create a FQDN that you can use for name based accessing of your VM resource and configuring your Chef nodes to deploy to.  Now go on to section three, where you’ll see the configuration of the Chef Automate service itself.



Remember earlier when I mentioned that license?  Well if you have purchased a license from Chef, you’ll want to enter it here.  If you don’t have a license and are still in an evaluation mode, no problem.  Just leave this blank and you’ll get a 30 day trial.  When you’ve finished, click OK at the bottom of the page.


Now we’re at the summary of our new Chef Automate server configuration.  Here we’ll see the parameters for our configuration that are provided in a simple text format, but also come in an ARM Template for you to download.



Download the template and save the details for your new setup in this summary section. Now move on to the “Buy” section by clicking the OK button.  This final section will provide you with the terms of use for the template along with confirmation of the charges to your account.  When you’re done reading the terms, click the blue create button.  Azure will now begin to build your new Chef Automate server!  The process will take several minutes to complete, but you’ll receive a notification in the “Bell” area of your Azure portal.

Finalizing the Chef Automate Installation


When completed, you’ll be able to find the new Chef Automate server in your Virtual Machines section of your portal.


You can then SSH into the server using the FQDN we selected and begin following the instructions provided by the VM to create a user and access the control panel. The three arrows below show you where the setup wizard, support details and the control panel are located.



Step by step, follow the provided instructions to configure your server.   You’ll then be able to start creating nodes using Azure VM Extensions that will allow you to install the required agent, the server it will connect to and set a run list to converge after boot time.


Final Notes

Not sure you can spend on this yet?  Azure provides you with a two hour free test drive on this service.


Test Drives are ready to go environments that allow you to experience a product for free without needing an Azure subscription. An additional benefit with a Test Drive is that it is pre-provisioned – you don’t have to download, set up or configure the product and can instead spend your time on evaluating the user experience, key features, and benefits of the product.


You can find more official documentation from Chef on Automate by clicking here.


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