Puppet snags COO, ties up partners, and renames itself

Pledges to bring edgy tech to the mainstream

The puppets from Team America: World Police gather at a bar for drinks.

Puppet Labs has snagged its first president and COO, cut its name in half, and announced a raft of integrations and partnerships as it pledges to bring automation to the mainstream.

The firm has recruited Sanjay Mirchandani, who has done stints as senior vp of VMware’s Asia Pac organisation, and as CIO at EMC.

Puppet Labs founder and CEO Luke Kanies said as prez and COO, Mirchandani will take care of the company’s go to market strategy, giving Kanies “a little more opportunity to focus on culture community and company and product strategy... to focus on how do the products really need to look for us to do the best we can.”

Much of this seems set to focus on broadening the platform’s appeal to mainstream users.

Kanies said, “Previously our customers wanted us to provide a tool that would help them automate their infrastructure. And now they want to provide a tool that will just automate their infrastructure.”

“A huge part of what we’re doing is how can we ask less of our users - so that everything that’s left for them to do is stuff they literally just have to do,” Kanies continued.

Reflecting this focus on the mainstream, the firm has dropped the Labs part of its name as of today, and tweaked its logo and branding. It admits this is in large part a recognition that most people refer to it as Puppet anyway. And presumably, at least some conservative potential customers might think anything with Labs is going to be just a little too innovative.

Unfortunately for enterprises that just want to have a quiet life, new architectures and technology keep coming thick and fast. Hence, Puppet has launched what it has dubbed Project Blueshift which will focus on “funnelling things that you probably want to be using right now, but aren’t quite ready for most people.”

Kanies said Puppet would act as a “bridge” helping edgier technologies get into mainstream companies. “If you’re Docker, Kubernetes, you think you’ve got the greatest thing since sliced bread, but how do you get enterprises to use it, how do we get into production, wider base of customers”

The initial focuses for Project Blueshift are Kubernetes, Docker, Mesosphere DCOS, Consul and CoreOS. The lineup will change as new technologies appear. “You’ll see some of those roll off as they either move into production or become irrelevant.

Kanies has previously expressed scepticism about some of the hype surrounding container technologies. This week he said, “Part of this whole story is how you take something that is intellectually really interesting and turn it into a production facility our customers can rely on.”

Demystification is being trumpeted in the latest release of Puppet Enterprise - 2016.1 - which the company also managed to slip out amidst all the other excitement and which Kanies said “was all around helping our customers get better control and understanding of what’s happening and why it’s happening.”

Reaching out into other technologies, The firm will collaborate with Atlassian’s HipChat on “new integrations that will results in more powerful tools for extending DevOps and modern software delivery practices to the enterprise.” You can call it ChatOps if you must, but essentially it’s about offering more opportunities to bring communication to the collaboration.

HipChat is hardly the only collaboration popular in the dev/ops space, so we can probably expect further announcements with the likes of Slack somewhere down the line.

Likewise, Puppet is getting closer to Splunk, resulting in a Puppet Enterprise App for Splunk.

None of these relationships are set to be exclusive. As Kanies said, “One of the things that management tools have to do whether they want to or not is we have to be great at working with everybody.” ®

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