Puppet pulls in (almost) former Cisco exec to head EMEA

Perches itself between Jack the Ripper territory and the City

Sanjay Mirchandani at PuppetConf 2016

Puppet has roped in former Cisco exec Marianne Calder to head up its European operation, as it prepares to scale up its enterprise push and expand its work with partners.

The move (almost) caps off a year that has seen founder Luke Kanies step back from the firm, handing over the CEO reins to VMWare and EMC vet Sanjay Mirchandani, who joined as COO back in April. The firm has pulled in an array of other senior execs since the beginning of the year.

Calder’s most recent gig at Cisco was managing director of collaboration sales. Part of her new gig will include building out Puppet’s partner business.

Mirchandani said the firm now has 33,000 customers – 1,300 of whom are paying customers. The firm claims it has take-up by 75 per cent of the Fortune 500. But while the company was continuing to ramp up its work force, it can’t hope to service massive projects alone.

“We are completely partner focused, our products are designed to be partner friendly,” said Mirchandani.

He said the company’s partner lineup could, and does, span “everything from boutique devops shops up to an Accenture. We’re actively working with that spectrum.”

While the firm’s earlier growth was often been through grassroots adoption, this is changing, as top execs at big firms look to buy in some DevOps or digital transformation pixie dust. For many years, IT had “conditioned” the business to talk about technology, he said. Now, the business need to talk about business with IT.

“The tech part is easy,” he said. “It’s not about cloud, or containers, or about XYZ.”

“It’s a fun time to be a CIO. It’s fun to go and make change happen,” he added.

Mirchandani said part of the firm’s role was to bridge the chasm between up-and-coming grassroots technologies - much as Puppet was not that long ago - and mainstream enterprises.

"There’s a lot of things the enterprise want from us - scalability, high availability, security - that we have to take the lead on," he said. "It doesn’t mean we do it in isolation. It means we take the lead on it and put it back into the open source community."

Calder will officially finish at Cisco on November 30, after 21 years at the company. She will immediately take up her new role. Senior - and even not-so-senior execs - might normally expect to endure some enforced gardening leave when shifting between companies. However, Cisco is one of Puppet’s investors, so this doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Calder’s appointment coincides with the company moving into 7,500 square feet of new digs in Aldgate, London. Once the stomping ground of Jack the Ripper, the area gives a touch of the grittiness that young techies seem to love these days, while being conveniently close to the City, where a large number of the firm’s most lucrative customers will have offices. ®

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