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VMware Expands into IT Automation with Acquisition of SaltStack

The giant pledges to continue investing heavily in Salt, the popular open source configuration automation platform.

VMware has struck a deal to acquire SaltStack, the company behind the popular open source IT configuration automation platform Salt.

VMware, which announced the deal during its virtual VMworld conference Tuesday, plans to offer SaltStack as part of its vRealize software suite for hybrid cloud management. But it will continue offering SaltStack as a stand-alone product, Ajay Singh, a VMware senior VP and general manager of its Cloud Management Business Unit, told DCK in an interview.

SaltStack is backed by the growth equity investor Mercato Partners. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Expected to close in October, the acquisition will expand VMware’s capabilities beyond its traditional realm of IT infrastructure management and into the application layer. To date VMware has supported SaltStack and its alternatives (Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and Terraform) in vRealize on a partnership basis.

“We’ve kind of traditionally taken a Switzerland approach,” Singh told us. VMware plans to continue supporting the alternative solutions as “first-class citizens” in vRealize for customers who have already picked their automation tools, while steering those who haven’t toward SaltStack.

Because it came to market later than the alternatives, SaltStack is “more next-generation,” he said. VMware chose SaltStack because it’s event-driven, lightweight, and highly scalable.

If VMware manages to retain trust of the Salt open source community – it pledged to continue investing heavily in the project – the deal opens a vast potential addressable market for VMware. Tens of thousands of users have downloaded open source SaltStack.

The number of paying enterprise customers is “in the hundreds,” Singh said.

The decision to acquire SaltStack was driven partly by VMware customers (some of whom wanted “an opinionated solution from VMware” for configuration automation) and partly by VMware’s long-term goal of becoming a one-stop software shop for everything an IT team may need to run their infrastructure.

First, SaltStack will be further integrated into vRealize, and that integration is expected to come to market as soon as November. In the long term, VMware will leverage the technology as it continues building out its capabilities around containers and Kubernetes and VMware Cloud Foundation, its hybrid cloud platform, Singh said.

Also this week VMware rolled out a Software-as-a-Service version of vRealize, called vRealize Cloud Universal, describing it as a “cloud management subscription offering that combines on-premises and SaaS into one license.”

TAGS: Deals DevOps
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