as a chef customer
For the past four years I stand by my tagline for chef "makes the easy things hard, and the hard things possible" you can google that term for more background from me on the topic if anyone is interested.
Using Chef was never my idea, and it's *far* too much work(to be worth it) to switch to something else at this point so we just try to live with it.
Before that I had roughly 7 years invested in CFEngine (version 2) and was a much happier person with that product.
Chef has some interesting concepts in it, but such overkill for probably 90% of the organizations out there.
If you are not ready to dive deep into ruby steer clear of chef. I was never prepared to dive into Ruby after having many bad experiences supporting it in the past, and using Chef has just continued to rub salt in those old wounds. Fortunately I have a team mate who is very good at chef so he handles most of it.
I gave my feedback to some of the founders of Chef when I met them several years ago, their response was "oh, you know an apache config file right? postfix? sendmail? bind? Chef is the same you'll pick it up in no time.." (here I am 4 years later and my original comments stand).
Oh and don't get me started on hosted Chef taking scheduled outages in the middle of the day(for paying customers). Just brain dead. What service provider in the world takes scheduled outages in the middle of a business day? I've spoken to the VP in charge of that stuff(friend of mine from 10 years ago) and their excuse either made me want to laugh or cry I'm not sure which.