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pic-chef-logoChef, the Seattle-based DevOps automation company, today announced the release of Habitat, an open-source project that lets applications self-organize and self-configure.

Habitat renders apps independent of infrastructure, which simplifies running them on different environments including containers, on-premises data servers or PaaS, the company said. It is Chef’s second offering, following its eponymous Chef cloud and infrastructure automation software.

“This is a very big deal,” said Chef CEO Barry Crist in an interview. “We’ll look back in a decade and there will be a handful of major software announcements we’ll remember. This will be high on the list.”

Apps need no longer be written to run on a specific infrastructure, Crist said. Now they can be “wrapped” in a Habitat package containing runtime dependencies, metadata and configuration information — everything needed to run on the app’s target platform.  When apps are wrapped, they gain a standardized interface making them simpler to manage, according to the company. Habitat also automates application configuration within a container, helping cope with the challenge of moving containerized apps from development into production.

Released under the Apache 2.0 license, Habitat is currently available only for MacOS and Linux, though a Windows version is planned. It can be freely downloaded here.

Chef CEO Barry Crist
Chef CEO Barry Crist

“We’ve taken a really bold approach here and departed from how others are approaching the problem” of freeing apps from their underlying infrastructure, Crist said. “It will either be a wild success or fall on its face. In other words, it’s a big risk for us. But we’re in a time of ongoing disruption, and we wanted to be aggressive and a leader. This is driving the industry where we think it needs to go.”

Founded in 2008 as OpsCode, Chef has raised a total of $103 million to date, he said. It has 1,000 customers and 250 employees. The company makes money by selling premium features on top of its open-source software and by selling services and support. Though it laid off a reported seven people this spring — a number Crist declined to confirm — the company “is growing and hiring, well funded and super strong,” he said.

Recurring revenue, the primary metric Chef uses, grew 94 percent year-over-year in 2015, it said, without providing numbers. Revenue grew 1,822 percent from 2011 to 2014.

Last year Chef announced a partnership with Microsoft to help organizations automate their workloads. In November 2015 it acquired VulcanoSec, following its July 2014 purchase of Tower 3. Chef moved to Seattle’s Pioneer Square in 2014.

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