New Opscode CEO Mitch Hill (left) will succeed Jesse Robbins, who is transitioning to a new post as Chief Community Officer.

Mitch Hill Takes Helm as CEO of Opscode

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New Opscode CEO Mitch Hill (left) will succeed Jesse Robbins, who is transitioning to a new post as Chief Community Officer.

Cloud automation specialist Opscode, Inc. has named Mitch Hill as Chief Executive Officer, the company said today. Hill succeeds co-founder Jesse Robbins, who will now serve as Opscode’s Chief Community Officer and steward the community ecosystem around Opscode’s Chef software.

Robbins said the transition was designed to accelerate the growth of Opscode to take advantage of strong interest from enterprise companies. ” Looking at the challenges and opportunities ahead, it was time to bring in a leader whose passion for scaling businesses matched our own for scaling infrastructure,” said Robbins. “It became clear we were going to become a gigantic, fast-growing company. Mitch will take us to the next level, and I am thrilled to have him as our CEO at Opscode.”

History at Accenture, Avanade

Hill previously served as the founding CEO of Avanade, a technology services joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, where he led the team that created a billion-dollar technology services firm providing business solutions built on Microsoft technology. Since retiring from Avanade in 2008, Hill has served as an advisor to a number of technology start ups in the Pacific Northwest.

“Opscode is at the epicenter of a major change in enterprise computing,” said Hill. “The industry really has a scale problem. I am very impressed with the Opscode team and the caliber of enterprise customers the company is attracting. I simply found this opportunity too exciting to resist.”

Chef is an open source framework using repeatable code – organized as “recipes” and “cookbooks” – to automate the configured and management process for virtual servers, enabling users to quickly deploy servers in a cohesive infrastructure. Chef has quickly become one of the key tools for configuration management (along with Puppet) for fast-growing infrastructures.

Focus on Private Clouds

In June Opscode rolled out Private Chef, which packages its server configuration management tools in an appliance that can run behind a corporate firewall. “We’re starting to see tremendous interest from larger enterprises,” said Robbins. “These big enterprises are more interested in on-premises solutions that will run behind their firewall.”

Hill said that he is enjoying working with the open source community, which marks a shift after many years focused on Microsoft products. But his time at Accenture and Avanade provided lots of understanding of enterprise customers, which will be crucial for the future of enterprise Chef offerings. “I’ve been amazed at the caliber of customers that are using open source Chef,” said Hill. “These users want consistency, tons of scalability, and use cases around security and role-based access and other traits of enterprise software. There are a lot of offerings that we can build.”

“Mitch was the clear and obvious choice for Opscode,” said Bill Bryant, Opscode investor and Venture Partner with Draper Fisher Jurvetson. “He is a world class CEO who built Avanade, a billion dollar business with a global footprint, from scratch. His leadership skills are extraordinary, he is deeply passionate about the role of IT in transforming business, and he brings a comprehensive understanding of how to drive strong business results.”

Robbins will focus on stewarding the vibrant community ecosystem around Opscode and Chef. In just the three years since its founding, the Chef open source community has emerged as the world’s largest community in configuration management and automation with nearly 400 individual contributors and more than 80 corporate contributors including VMware, Dell and Rackspace.

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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