Opscode Gets $11M to Take on IBM and HP Management Software

Chef is part of a new generation of IT.

Opscode, a two-year-old startup based in Seattle, has raised $11 million from Battery Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in its second round of funding. The company, co-founded and led by former Amazon Master of Disaster Jesse Robbins, offers a software as a service aimed at helping developers configure and manage their servers.

Opscode was created to offer a hosted version of the Chef open-source configuration management software. Several of Opscode’s founders helped develop the Chef software, which allows developers to write code that will manage their servers, eliminating the need to write specific commands for each server or virtual machine. The resulting service is more flexible, and turns the act of configuring hardware into a task developers can write into their applications.

IBM’s Tivoli, HP’s Opsware and BMC Software offer configuration tools that attempt to first map a customer’s infrastructure, then give it instructions — an operational perspective vs. Opscode’s developer perspective. Opscode is already hosting the configuration management software for customers such as Rdio, the new music service from the Skype founders; GoTime, an iPhone application; and Etsy. Notably, companies such as Rackspace, Rightscale and VMware are big contributors to the Chef source code.

As a business Opscode has a solid team, good investors and paying customers, but what’s really noteworthy is how the development of Chef represents a generational shift in information technology. Many technologists, be they in hardware, programming, databases or services, are willing to accept a greater level of uncertainty or hosted services provided by others in their work.

At the hardware level it’s a willingness to architect for uncertainty and expect failure of the underlying servers or storage drives, as exemplified by Google. For data stores it’s a willingness to give up on synchronous writes and consistent persistence accepted by those working on NoSQL data stores. In programming the rise of millions of programmers choosing Ruby on Rails, Python or PHP over older languages like .Net or Java showcase the trend.

Opscode, which accepts that sometimes just looking for the things you need when you need them is an easier way to handle configuration management than needing to know where everything is in case you need them, is another example. With $11 million more, and a number of customers that are also growing their businesses, we’ll see if Opscode’s methods are a necessary evolution or a footnote in IT history. For more on this evolution, come to our Structure 2010 conference this Wednesday and Thursday in San Francisco.

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