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Opscode rebranded as Chef, scored $32m in new venture capital and refreshed its executive suite

Opscode rebranded as Chef, scored $32m in new venture capital and refreshed its executive team

Opscode, maker of IT automation software Chef has rebranded to take the name of its increasingly popular offering after a series D round of funding that saw the company rake in another $32m on Monday. The influx of cash arrives as Chef refreshes its executive team and seeks to double its sales and engineering staff over the next year.

Chef offers an open source-based IT infrastructure automation platform that lets developers apply pre-developed coding templates (a “recipe”) to applications according to a configuration and policy distribution scenario (a “cookbook”) so these apps can scale smoothly on any infrastructure platform; specifically, it helps automated server and networking management functions that need to be executed when an application has to scale up and down rapidly. The company also keeps copies of “recipes” and “cookbooks” that have seen successful deployment, publishing them for other enterprises to use.

The latest round of funding, led by Scale Venture Partners (ScaleVP) and Citi Ventures brings the total amount secured by Chef to $65m since its founding in 2008.

“The new normal of relentless 24×7 digital demand means that enterprises must make IT the primary customer touch-point. The continuous delivery of code is the only way to make this gigantic shift and win the race to market,” says Barry Crist, chief executive officer of Chef.

“This new financing will fuel our next stage of growth and enable us to deliver even more innovation to our rapidly growing base of enterprise customers.”

Chef has had a good year by most standards. The company, which competes with the likes of SaltStack and Puppet Labs, said sales of its automation offerings have seen 250 per cent growth in 2013; users grew by 350 per cent. It also recently worked with Facebook to deploy a version of its automation suite to help the social network provider scale its databases, networks and server infrastructure more effectively. Considering the amount of data Facebook metabolises, this is an impressive contract win.

The company has also recently refreshed its executive team. Chef hired Curt Anderson, former chief financial officer for Microsoft’s manufacturing and supply chain division, as the company’s new CFO. Tucker Callaway, who previously served as CA Technologies’ VP of Americas for the growth market, was hired as vice president of enterprise and Tom Murphy, who previously served as VP of customer success at Apptio, was brought on as Chef’s vice president of services.

“We’re now at a tremendous inflection point for our business because Chef adoption is soaring around the globe. The additions of Curt, Tucker, and Tom are important down payments on creating a company of lasting value,” Crist said.

“Curt comes with decades of proven experience in ramping and managing revenue for large-scale enterprise organizations. Tucker is a tested leader with a history of rapidly growing sales operations in the IT automation market. And Tom has a strong track record of leading top tier customer service organizations in both enterprise SaaS-based and DevOps-oriented businesses. Their dynamic skill sets complement our executive team well, positioning us to best use our new financing to maximum results.”

Crist said Chef is gearing up for another push into the enterprise. Led by the new executive team, the company plans to double its sales and engineering staff over the next year.

The problems Chef aims to solve – scaling diverse applications across numerous cloud platforms without crashing – won’t go away anytime soon, particularly as enterprises move to adopt an increasingly heterogeneous mix of platforms. But bigger questions about its ability to compete against well-backed rivals, and the long-term viability of standalone automation offerings remain.

One of the fastest growing companies in the tech sector, Puppet Labs, which offers similar software-defined cloud automation and management capabilities secured comparable investment ($30m) earlier this year from VMware and other entrenched IT incumbents including IBM and HP grew by 3,000 per cent since 2010). And these IT incumbents are building automation functionality exactly like that found in Chef’s and Puppet Labs’ offerings into their own cloud management software, particularly HP.

It now remains to be seen whether others follow suit, or if standalone cloud management and automation software remain attractive enough as an autonomous offering.