Opscode Scales Up Along With Its Customers

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Cloud infrastructure automation is a particularly high-impact segment of the cloud computing universe, allowing Internet content companies to quickly grow to enormous scale. A key player in that trend is Opscode, whose open source Chef configuration framework has been used by thousands of companies to automate their infrastructure.

A growing number of those companies, including some marquee names in Internet content, are using Opscode’s hosted platform to configure and manage their infrastructure. Opscode said today that it more than 3,000 customers using  The Opscode Platform, which offers server configuration management delivered as a service. Those customers include the online music service Rhapsody, e-commerce portal Etsy and game publisher IGN Entertainment.

“We’ve reached this point faster than expected,” said Jesse Robbins, CEO of Opscode. “It fuels our thesis that people want to use Chef in a variety of different ways. A growing number of companies are coming around to wanting to put their installation on the platform.”

Rhapsody: Automating Complexity at Scale

That includes Rhapsody, which uses the Opscode Platform to automate a complex IT infrastructure to deliver its music service to an expanding universe of devices, including including desktop applications, browsers, music players, smart phones and home entertainment units. Rhapsody uses more than 1,000 virtual machine system images for 300 different types of systems. The company says using Chef on the Opscode Platform has allowed it to replace a complex set of manual tasks with flexible code that can be re-used and adapted to a dynamic environment.

“Utilizing the Opscode platform has turned our greatest operational challenge into an operational advantage,” said Paul Vandegrift, Director of Vendor and Partner Management, Rhapsody. “It is a business imperative of Rhapsody to delivery a seamless music experience to our subscriber base and requires that we manage nearly 300 different application server configurations in order to stream a music catalog of more than 11 million songs to dozens of different devices.”

“Automation for the Masses”

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 company’s goal is to bring infrastructure automation to the masses.

“If you’re focusing your organization’s resources, it should be on configuration, not the platform,” said Robbins. “Organizations – from startups to Fortune 500 companies – are rapidly transitioning from legacy tools that limit their business to new, powerful and highly scalable, SaaS-based cloud automation platforms which let them focus on what’s important.”

Opscode isn’t alone in automating cloud configuration, as Puppet Labs offers a similar tool that is also widely used. Opscode sees its hosted platform as a differentiator, and one that is gaining increased traction with enterprise users who previously implemented the open source Chef in their own environments.

“We have a pretty full pipeline of folks who have been running the open source version who want to move to the platform,” said Robbins.

The growth the hosted offering has prompted Opscode toe make some changes in its own infrastructure as well.

“One of the things we’ve done is move our core services over to Rackspace,” said Robbins. “We wanted to make sure we had sub-second failover on our core data engine, and we really couldn’t do that on EC2. What we’ve done architecturally is made sure we have enough headroom to scale to whatever size our customers need.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large 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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