Open Source DevOps Vendor Chef Launches Its First Channel Program

This is the first organized partner effort in Chef’s 11-year history.

Todd R. Weiss

February 13, 2020

4 Min Read
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DevOps and enterprise infrastructure automation vendor Chef has created its first-ever global partner program to formalize its relationships with its channel partners and make it easier for them to sell, deliver and support Chef’s applications and services.

The all-new Chef Partner Program is being launched by the open source software company with a wide range of incentives for co-marketing, co-selling and creating recurring revenue through broadened relationships with the company and its customers.


Chef’s Vikram Ghosh

Chef has had about 500 partners in the 11 years since it was founded, including about 100 active partners over the last year, Vikram Ghosh, the company’s vice president of business development, told Channel Futures.

“We recognized we needed a partner program” to fill a vacuum that existed between the company and its partners and customers, he said. “There was no structured method for us to engage with these people.”

In the past, the relationships with partners were inconsistent and ad hoc, which was not desirable, he said.

The new partner program was made possible because the company shifted its business model in April of 2019 from simply creating open source applications to licensing four commercial product offerings from that code to customers, as well providing support and services for those applications.

“That is where the need for the channel program came up,” said Ghosh. “We were working with channel partners informally since then.”

Under the new program, partners can expect more consistent interactions from Chef as a company, he said. “Our partners drive a bunch of successful customer deployments and we struggled to propagate that work in the past to many more customers. We offer them go-to-market benefits and the ability for them to use our channel to tell their stories.”

Being an open source company that gives away its software code had put the company at odds with its partners in the past, said Ghosh. “By moving to this partner model, we end that model. The commercial products are supported by the partners. In the past, the partners would support the open source versions as well, and that was the reason the conflict would exist.”

Chef DevOps and infrastructure applications include Chef Infra infrastructure automation, Chef Inspec security and compliance automation, Chef Habitatr automated application dependency management and the Chef Automate DevOps dashboard and analytics tools.

The new Chef Partner Program (CPP) includes three tiers — Principal, Senior and Junior — and offers increased benefits and incentives for partners who bring in the most business using the Chef Enterprise Automation Stack, according to the company. The program aims to provide tools, training and incentives to partners, as well as Not-for-Resale licenses to allow partners to offer trial deployments to prospective customers and to use Chef’s binaries for internal deployments. Also included are special discounts for ChefConf conference sponsorships and attendance, as well as optimized sales and technical enablement tools and programs.

Pradeep Nair, the head of DevOps consulting for IT services vendor Relevance Lab, a Chef partner, said the new partner program will be helpful for…

…his company. In addition, Chef’s move last year to licensing their enterprise applications continues to be beneficial for its partners, said Nair.


Relevance Lab’s Pradeep Nair

“The support services piece of our business is going to increase exponentially,” said Nair. “And the code is open, which gives us and our customers flexibility to use the software and build around it much more. And customers will get better software because the community is going to add to it.”

The new partner program will make it easier for Relevance Lab to help solve customer problems, he said. “Products alone don’t solve problems. This helps us get a better runway with the customer.”

Nair said his company sought a formalized channel program from Chef in the past, and raised the issue when they would meet at conferences and other gatherings. “We spoke with them about it all the time,” he said. “Red Hat has been the leader in this strategy and Chef is going down the same route. The way Red Hat has approached the open source business has really benefited partners and the partner community like us.”

There will likely be some teething issues with the new program as it gets started, but those issues will be resolved, predicted Nair. “I think that the partner community and Chef really need to work together because customers are going to expect things from this. We have to really formulate how we are going to respond to those customer issues.”

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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