Opscode Unveils Funding, Hosted Platform

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The new Opscode web site, highlighting its hosted server configuration service.

Boosted by a fresh round of funding from investors, Opscode Inc. today has launched the public beta of its hosted platform to automate cloud infrastructure. The new offering is based on Chef, Opscode’s open source framework that enables companies to build and manage automated infrastructures.

The debut of the Opscode Platform represents an ambitious effort to translate the expertise and best practices of infrastructure Jedi into a hosted offering that can solve  tough challenges in building scalable cloud computing infrastructures. Chef has earned an ardent following among the “DevOps” community seeking to synthesize development and operations, and is helping manage sites at 37Signals, Etsy, IGN Entertainment, Scribd, and Wikia.

$11 Million in Fresh Funding
The next step involves infrastructure. To support that growth, Opscode announced today that it has closed an $11 million Series B round of funding led by Battery Ventures and including existing investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson, who led Opscode’s Series A funding of $2.5 million. The funding will allow Opscode to expand its engineering staff and research and development initiatives.

“It’s an important milestone for the company,” said Jesse Robbins, co-founder and CEO of Opscode. “In just a very short period of time, Opscode has attracted some of the brightest minds in infrastructure. These individuals have been responsible for managing some of the world’s largest and most complex computing environments and it is from this collective expertise that the idea for Opscode was born.”

Opscode was founded by Robbins, a veteran of Amazon.com, and chief technology officer Adam Jacob, who has held senior technical positions with Marchex and InfoSpace. The Opscode team also includes Christopher Brown, one of the founders of Amazon.com’s EC2 cloud platform, who also helped build Microsoft’s Edge Content Network.

Robbins said the funding will allow Opscode to “focus our energies squarely on helping our customers – as well as the Chef community – get the most out of their infrastructure.”

Server Configuration Management As A Service
The Opscode platform is the first server configuration management offering delivered as a service. Cloud computing and virtualization have made it easier than ever to create new servers on demand. That’s placed a premium on configuring and managing all these new servers so they can work together effectively in a cohesive infrastructure. Chef uses repeatable code – organized as “recipes” and “cookbooks” – to automate the configured and management process. Opscode offers pre-built images for Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and VMware to get users started.

The Opscode Platform is in a free beta release for the next 60 days. After the trial period, participants can get started managing up to 20 nodes for $50 per month and $5 per month for each additional node.

“This service hasn’t existed in any environment at the price we’re running at,” said Robbins. “It encourages the kind of utilization we want to see.”

A Utility for Internet Scale
Opscode is starting small, but thinking big. “We want to build a core configuration utility for Internet scale,” said Robbins. “People have been talking about this for four decades. Our mission is about enabling you to focus on the places your businesses have value. It’s a very, very big vision, and we’re a small company.”

But the 20 current members of the Opscode team have been involved in running some of the Internet’s biggest sites, and are supported by a community of 150 developers who’ve contributed to the open source code for Chef.

“Opscode Chef is a boon for developers and systems engineers that crave automation and sane infrastructure,” said John Allspaw, VP of Technical Operations at Etsy. “At Etsy, we use Opscode Chef to build, deploy and maintain server infrastructure in an incredibly agile, yet predictable fashion. It’s indispensable for both our development and operations teams.”

Will It Translate to the Enterprise?
A key question is whether a system built by DevOps pioneers will translate effectively for enterprise users. One of the key takeways from the alpha period, Robbins said, was the need to move beyond the command line interface, and develop a richer graphical user interface (GUI). Opscode also added improved management of user roles to better support teams of developers.

“We’ve had a ton of early interest from large enterprises with cloud proof-of-concept projects who found they didn’t have the tools they needed,” said Robbins. “They’re ready now. They want to use these cloud services.We scratched an intense itch around configuration management. This kind of automation is what we all need, and hopefully provides the foundation for a lot of innovation to come.”

Opscode has made believers of its financial backers.

“Over the last few decades, legacy automation technologies have made billions of dollars solving discrete problems for very large organizations,” said Sunil Dhaliwal, a General Partner at Battery Ventures will join Opscode’s Board of Directors. “With the advent of datacenter-level APIs and virtualization, there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make world class IT infrastructure available to the masses. Opscode has the team, the product and the initial market momentum to make a very serious run at democratizing infrastructure management.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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