DevOps firm Chef rustles up $40m to feed container focus and expansion plans

Further product development is high on the agenda of DevOps automation firm Chef, which is also planning to step up its international activities.

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Chef CEO Barry Crist: Containers and compliance are important themes. Image: Chef
DevOps automation framework firm Chef says a $40m funding injection announced today will help finance product development focused on containers and compliance, as well as international expansion.

The series E round, led by DFJ Growth with Hewlett-Packard Ventures and existing investors Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, DFJ, Ignition Partners, and ScaleVP, takes the total raised by the company to just over $100m since its foundation in 2008.

DevOps is an approach aimed at producing better software more quickly by automating the way developers and operations teams collaborate.

Chef is the commercial entity behind the popular open-source configuration management and automation platform of the same name.

Chef CEO Barry Crist said containers and compliance are two important themes for the firm's development efforts and both stand to benefit from the latest injection of funds.

"The two areas that we're keen to expand over the next 18 months and put more effort into are containers and compliance. There isn't a ton of production containers in the enterprise yet but there's lots of experimentation going on. We have some things that we'd like to do and that you'll see from us over the next year around containers," he said.

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According to Crist, compliance has conventionally been treated as a discipline that slows down the speed of software development.

"But there's a new way of doing it, where if you build compliance into your software build, automate it and define compliance in software terms as code, you can check it every time you make a software release, in the same way you would do a functional test or a unit test, for example," he said.

"Then, as you release more frequently, you're checking compliance and can guarantee that you have less drift. That's been a really hot topic, particularly in financial services."

Crist said enterprise software is undergoing enormous change, with extensive technology innovations and businesses experiencing shifts in the way they create software.

"Every company in every industry is becoming potentially a software company in an important way. They go through the same thing that every software company does, which is generally they're trying to increase innovation and quality," he said.

"There's this new pattern emerging, which is a combination of cloud and automation and DevOps that lets them push both of those at the same time."

In April, Chef unveiled workflow product Chef Delivery and announced the DevOps platform's integration with Canonical's Ubuntu enterprise distributions, which are widely used in cloud deployments.

Open-source MySQL fork MariaDB launched Chef cookbook scenario definitions and recipe tasks in July to make it easier for users to install and deploy MariaDB Enterprise.

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Crist said the firm has been expanding its activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as throughout Asia.

"This is the power of being an open-source company, where our customers find us more than we find them. We have somewhat of a different sales model to many companies. For us, it's much more focused on helping drive both expertise and skills inside their own company. We also really focus on the success of a project, more than traditional sales efforts," he said.

As a result, the investment in expanding operations will zero in more on increasing Chef's inhouse technical staff.

"We do have some account managers, some project managers. But the bulk of it will be technical. We also like to expand our development efforts. We do have some development that we do in Europe and we'd like to in the next year open a development centre. We're looking at where to locate that right now."

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