Opscode, developer of the highly popular IT infrastructure automation tool Chef, is finding that as customers are managing larger, more heterogenous environments at greater and greater scales, they’re turning to DevOps methodologies and tools to keep things under control – in fact, Opscode says its customer base has grown 50 percent in the last six months.
And to help large enterprises meet that challenge, Opscode is launching a portfolio of professional services and solutions, with a special focus on cloud automation.
The new Opscode services practice is headed up by one Paul Edelhertz, who comes to the company after a stint as CEO of CRM consultancy Zamba Solutions. Edelhertz boasts 20 total years experience in the services market, including 12 years at Accenture.
In his new role, Edelhertz will lead Opscode’s services as it helps customers design and implement Chef implementation roadmaps, trains them in its use, and generally gets enterprises up to speed with infrastructure automation. This is especially important as Opscode is also reporting that half of its Private Chef on-premise customers are in the Fortune 500.
The trick is that Opscode Chef’s popularity has been a result of all of the early movers in the automation space jumping aboard – the kind of users who don’t mind taking a chance (and a weekend or two) to teach themselves a new, open source-core project that can potentially increase operational efficiency by leaps and bounds, Opscode VP of Marketing Jay Wampold told me in a phone interview.
But enterprises don’t have that luxury, and Edelhertz’s team is going to help them implement automation solutions. And apparently, this services division was launched by popular customer demand, as customers look for better ways of optimizing IT.
“We’re really getting pulled into this,” Edelhertz says.
There are essentially three “flavors” of services/solutions being announced today:
- Configuration Management, which Wampold says is essentially “table stakes” for using Chef. It’s largely a roadmap for repeatedly and predictably provisioning and configuring servers, which is the bare minimum of Chef’s use-case.
- Continuous Delivery, designed to help customers develop automated software testing and deployment as they move up the stack from managing servers to applications.
- Scale-out Web, which is designed for, well, scale-out web applications, with an eye towards deploying solutions that can rapidly provision as needs demand and then scale back down when the spike lets up.
Intriguingly, Opscode is shying away from the term “DevOps” with the launch of these services, even though it’s obviously helping customers implement the same. But that’s because DevOps is just a label, Edelhertz and Wampold agreed. The DevOps revolution is still going down, but it’s less about the word and more about the cultural shift that it represents. And customers aren’t looking for DevOps. They’re looking for a better way to manage their complex IT infrastructures. It’s a fine line.
In the meanwhile, Chef’s competitors at Puppet Labs already offer similar professional and support services, bringing their enterprise game up to par – at least on paper. There’s still no clear sign that one has overtaken the other. All you can do is let the market decide.