Two of the most important tasks in a datacenter are server provisioning and configuration management. At one time, administrators spent a significant amount of time physically deploying servers and network infrastructure, followed by even more minutes and hours manually configuring hundreds or even thousands of nodes. Then they spent an additional chunk of the day troubleshooting and fixing the errors they introduced by configuring all of these systems with their fat fingers.
Today, thanks to automation software such as Chef, administrators are able to provision servers, deploy software, and set a nearly endless number of configuration items in a blink, without lifting a finger. And they do so in a way that is more scalable, more repeatable, and more immune to human error.