Chef vs Puppet

Configuration management is a process used to maintain and establish the consistency of products performance and operational information throughout its life. It is also used with IT service management which is defined by ITIL and also in other domain models like industrial engineering segments like roads, bridges, canals, dams and in civil engineering. Lack of its ineffectual implementation may be very expensive and have such consequences of catastrophe like loss of life and failure of equipment, it emphasizes the functional relation between subsystems and system for effectively controlling system change. It controls its performance and provides visibility, physical and functional attributes, It verifies the system performance as documented in sufficient details to support its life cycle.

In this essay we are going to discuss the differences between chef and puppet and cover the topics like what is chef, advantages of chef, disadvantages of chef, what is puppet, advantages of puppet, disadvantages of puppet and the key differences between chef and puppet. 

What is Chef?

It is an automation tool which provides the way to define infrastructure as code, that manages infrastructure by writing code instead of using manual processes, it is termed as programmable infrastructure. It uses pure Ruby, DSL for writing system configurations, Chef provides various automation irrespective of size of the infrastructure like application deployment, infrastructure configuration and configurations managed across our networks. It maintains client server architecture but it has an extra component name as workstation, its nodes are dynamically updated with the configuration in the server. There is no need to execute even a single command on its server to push the configuration on nodes, nodes will update themselves automatically with the configuration presented in the server this process is called pull configuration.

Why Chef?

It supports various platforms such as Solaries, FreeBSD, OSX, AIX, CentOS, etc. and additional platforms include Debian, Fedora, Arch Linus, etc. It may be integrated with cloud based platforms like internap, Amazon Ec2, Google cloud platform, soft layer and Microsoft azure to provision and configure new machines automatically. It has active smart and growing community support, as it has flexibility and maturity from giants like Expedia, Mozilla, Facebook, Prezi, Rackspace, IGN. It is one of the most famous configuration management tools and closely competes with the puppet. 

What is Puppet?

When compared to other management tools puppet is the most maturing tool for configuration management, it is used for deploying, configuring and managing the server. Continuously checking and defining various configurations for each and every host to conform to whether the required configuration is in place and not altered on the host. It gives control among all our configured machines so a centralized change to get all propagated automatically, they use a master slave architecture in which the master slave communicates through an encrypted channel with the help of SSL. It is used by more than 30,000 companies which also include a red hat, Siemens, Google. 

Why Puppet?

Approximately 22 new organizations per day use puppet for the first time, it is a large developer base that is widely used and lots of people develop for it. The puppet has many contributors to it core the source code, and has been continually refined and improved in very large infrastructure. The performance of puppet and scalability lessons learned from these projects contributed to puppet development. It has the large user maintained with hundreds of pages of documentation and comprehensive reference for both language and resource types. It usually performs repetitive tasks like installing servers and configuring those servers, and allows access to an accurate historical report of system state for project management.

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Comparison Between Chef and Puppet


Chef: It is defined as how accessible are the tools while unscheduling service interruptions, when the chef server goes down, then a backup server takes up the slack.

Puppet: The puppet provides another master when the working master downs, it incorporates a multimarker architecture.

Terms and concepts

Configuration files are abstracted by the configuration managers, to familiarize with the terms that are unique to each tool is important.

Puppet: The puppet works with manifests and modules 

Chef: The chef works with cookbooks and recipes.

manifests and recipes follow the rules which describe single concepts, cookbooks and recipes are used to describe more general concepts.

Enterprise cost

Puppet: The puppet provides a range of prices from $112 per year when we choose a standard support plan, to $199 per year when we choose a premium support plan.

Chef: When it comes to the chef the annual fee is $137 that gives us everything we need to deploy. 

Easy setup

It is the basic requirement for any tool to install or set up, which is trickier sometimes.

Chef: The chef uses master agent architecture while chef master runs on the master machine when chef client runs on each client. The workstation maintains the configuration of all clients and master machines are tested and pushed to the central chef server, it is not an easy task to set up chef servers and clients.

Puppet: Puppets use the architecture of the master agent where its server runs on master machines and the clients run as agents on each of the client machines. In this both machines are getting executed, so we can set up easily. 
The chef and puppet both have different configuration languages, and the chef has a deep learning curve as it uses Ruby as DSL which is developer oriented, when it comes to the puppet it is not easy to learn because it uses its own domain specific language, so it cannot be used by general users. 


Chef and Puppet: The puppet and Chef both are highly scalable, we can add more nodes as per our needs and requirements. When we may handle large infrastructure by using these tools, we need only to specify the ip address and the hostname of those nodes that use us to handle and configure many nodes as per our needs and requirements.

Advantages of Chef

It's not a matter how our infrastructure is deployed, it may be in the cloud, on premises or in hybrid combinations of both, its infrastructure automation allows us to respond and adapt to a changing business landscape. 

Accelerating software delivery: Speed of development refers how fastly the software is able to change in response for new needs and conditions, the speed is measured in terms of both how the software is deployed and the period of time between a new commit to the subsequent deployment and code base.

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Increasing service resiliency: When these changes also add bugs more likely occur, speed is not enough to review and deploy the changes fastly. Infrastructure automation increases our system resiliency just as much as it accelerates delivery speed, by catching issues before they monitor and occur the problems. 

Improving risk management: It works as the third indicator of IT organizations risks, that is defined as quality of changes made to software. As speed and efficiency, risk is also assessed using two metrics: frequency of compliance and mean time to remediate after discovery of vulnerability. 

Accelerating cloud adoption: Its infrastructure automation helps to get you there even many organizations are showing interest in migrating to the cloud, with many potential bumps along the way. 

Disadvantages of Chef

  • It is difficult and gives many errors while setting up the environment, they can be avoided by bringing more automation to the process. It is a bit hard to learn templating language, especially for those who are not familiar with the ruby programming language. The chef client architecture of the server and its nodes are difficult to understand for beginners and have a lot of authentication access formalities for setup. 
  • When we think about it from a scripting standpoint, it is counterintuitive, it is idempotence instead of scripting which can have unintended consequences. We may feel a headache when we think about it as scripting replacement, and its recipe language could be a little more robust. 
  • It needs to improve management console to add more metrics for monitoring the applications, and it also has to improve support for hybrid cloud deployments, which is done manually and keeps focus on auditing and monitoring for compliance. It should allow the creation of the dashboard by users as there are too many use cases for data provided to stay on top.
  • Its limitations while providing integrations and within automation, it provides great integration with AWS, and allows scanning entire accounts within an account. In account continuous scanning of assets through integrations appears to not occur.

Advantages of Puppet

  • It has consistency and scalability that gives phenomenal growth and its infrastructure needed to keep pace with organizations.
  • The solutions are script based and the manual approaches were not sufficient for their needs, its portable infrastructures paves a way to leverage a consistent configuration management approach in public cloud infrastructure and their own data centers. 
  • It provides diversity of different gaming properties, and it was important for the team that helps to quickly match the right configuration for the right machine.
  • Its production operation teams may rapidly deploy the right configuration to the right box, when the system gets inappropriately to reconfigure the puppet automatically. 
  • Puppets offer significant time savings in the way the operations team deliver services used for gaming studios, it is easy to share configurations across our services in a short time everytime.

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  • It enables the operational teams and developers to work together to ensure new service delivery is of extremely high quality, it allows us to deliver configuration consistency across our servers in short time. 
  • Complete idea about it has been disseminated by the teams that are used for the operations teams within each individual in the gaming studio. 
  • The configuration management can work like a backbone of DevOps which allows most frequent software release and in the safest reliable way. 
  • The transaction, which are not matured and still upcoming. 
  • It cannot be suitable for smaller businesses, and they have seen more success with the chef so they do not prefer the puppet to avoid complexity. 
  • Those who are new to programming may find it difficult to understand, and the people who do system administration cannot be versed with programming, they feel the puppet a bit daunting to start with.
  • It provides random actions, instead of that it may provide the directory, which has to be created before a file is placed. 
  • We need to explicitly declare the order of execution. It provides parallel ability to use commands across multiple hosts, it does not match with existing infrastructure, it may need a radical shift in thinking and procedures for reliably implemented. 
  • It has complexity, which creates a little overwhelming in various collaborative deployment methodology over different data centers and platforms.
  •  It may cause considerable time consuming migration efforts, especially when we have many legacy classes and configurations that do not conform readily to the new design.

Disadvantages of Puppet

  • The ruby may be complex to understand, when we want to extend the puppet we have to work with ruby which can not be easy because ruby is not famous.
  • It evaluates and releases rapidly, and it releases new versions very fast, that can be quite a task to keep up new features and breaking changes.
  • It doesn't maintain comprehensive reporting features, and hard to look at comprehensive reports on.

Both the tools Chef and Puppet are primarily different in technology, and the puppet is the product belongs to puppet labs whereas chef is written in Ruby and Erlang which is an ops code lab product. The puppet is designed for simplicity, and the chef is designed for cloud automation. After discussion now it looks easy for us to decide which management tool is best for our requirements of our project at any instance, we may also use the combination of both if we require. Instead of these variations both the tools are best, their importance is based on needs and requirements of our project.

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