Summary:

Configuration management player Opscode nets $19.5 million in new Series C funding led by Ignition Partners and names Ignition’s John Connors, former Microsoft CFO, to the board. With its cash infusion, Opscode hopes to build its engineering staff and enterprise business.

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Opscode CEO Mitch Hill

Configuration management specialist Opscode plans to use $19.5 million in new funding to build up its engineering staff and fuel its push into the enterprise. The Series C round was led by new investor Ignition Partners and, along with the money, Opscode gets a new director in Ignition’s John Connors, a former CFO of Microsoft.

Ignition joins previous investors Battery Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in a round that brings total venture investment to about $31 million for the four-year-old Seattle company.

Systems administrators and developers use Opscode’s Chef tool — available in open source and commercial form — to configure and manage their servers.

Chef, and Puppet from Opscode rival Puppet Labs (see disclosure), are next-gen tools that perform jobs that in another era would have been performed by more monolithic toolsets from companies like IBM/Tivoli, BMC, CA or Hewlett-Packard.

Opscode CEO Mitch Hill said that Chef usually ends up replacing a collection of configuration and management tools from other vendors or built in house.

The company will use the new VC money to staff up and to push Chef harder to enterprise customers, Hill said in an interview last week.“We’re aggressively hiring in Seattle and in our engineering hub in Raleigh [N.C.] We’re really ready to staff up both engineering and support,” Hill said in an interview last week. Opscode has 50 employees now and plans to add about 30 more this year.

Opscode launched the Chef enterprise attack last summer. “Our commercial business is divided between SaaS and the enterprise Private Chef, announced last summer, and which started selling in Q4. We’ve now got our first dozen or so Private Chef customers.” Among the new customers are Ancestry.com, South America’s LAN Airlines, Marshall University and SolutionSet, he said.

As more companies put more of their workload in the cloud, the need to specify, build out, and manage servers, wherever they reside, will get more important. And Opscode, Puppet Labs and others will try to position themselves as top-of-the-heap in cloud deployment.

DisclosurePuppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, the founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jonathanjonl

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