Technology / DevOps

New Course: Chef Fundamentals

by Raju Woodward
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Published on October 13, 2014

Shawn Powers recently completed his "Chef Fundamentals" course. The 16-video course teaches learners how to install and use Chef, a configuration management tool that can streamline tasks related to running servers. Here's a quick Q&A session with Shawn about his new course:

1. What was your favorite Nugget to create?

I think my favorite Nugget in the series was Managing Virtual Machines with Vagrant, which was where we learned to use Vagrant to spin up virtual machines on the fly. It was really neat to see all the work we'd done up to that point get put into a rapid-deployment type situation. It's the sort of Nugget that inspires experimentation, and that's where the real learning happens.

2. What roadblocks did encounter when creating this training and how did you overcome them?

Ugh! About halfway through the course, I had a complete server meltdown. After a couple weeks of pulling my hair out, I came to the conclusion that a thunderstorm must have affected my ESXi server. I tried in vain to fix my virtual machines and virtual network, but no matter what I tried, it failed. In the end, I wiped all my machines, and started from scratch. In fact, I had to watch all my previous Nuggets and do *exactly* what we did together so my virtual machines would match! It was very frustrating, but reiterated an important lesson: Don't forget backups!

3. What did you keep in mind from a student perspective while creating the course?

Chef is confusing at first. In the beginning, it seems so complicated that it's hard to imagine it saving you time. But rest assured, it IS worth it. Once you get past that initial frustration with the steep learning curve, it really is a tool that can save time, and make your job much, much easier. Plus, we get to learn it together, which is always more enjoyable than doing it alone.

4. Any outside-of-the-box tips for students to get the most out of your course?

You mean besides the standard "MAKE FREQUENT BACKUPS!" tip? You know, that one I didn't follow! In all seriousness though, I recommend making virtual machine snapshots, and then experimenting along the way. The worst you'll do is break things, and if you have a virtual snapshot, you can un-break it pretty quickly!

5. What's the ONE thing you hope learners take away from this training?

While the learning curve for Chef is steep, it's totally worth it. Whether you use Chef to manage your entire infrastructure, or just use it to keep your configuration files standard on a handful of machines, it's really, truly worth learning.

6. What's one real-world application someone can expect to use, thanks to this course?

Learning Chef forces you into a DevOps mindset, which will make you a better IT professional whether you use Chef or not. Also, learning to build up and tear down entire environments in minutes is invaluable, especially if you are in a situation that requires temporary test platforms.

You can watch Shawn's new Chef course today! Or learn more about DevOps in Shawn's recent "Demystifying DevOps" webinar.


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