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Chef hires European head as it guns for compliance-weary financial services clients

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Chef, the configuration management outfit formerly known as Opscode, has hired Justin Arbuckle as head of its European operations, as well as its global chief enterprise architect.

Arbuckle has a long history in IT automation, most recently as chief architect for GE Capital(s ge), and before that for the likes of Barclays(s bcs) and Standard Bank. Unsurprisingly, he has his eyes firmly set on the European financial services industry.

“Given the regulatory push in the financial services space in particular, we see a big opportunity,” Arbuckle told me on Wednesday, explaining that automation could cure the ills of a fragmented regulatory landscape such as that of Europe and its 28 member states.

“In the U.S. … in general there are very similar trading standards and no restrictions on the portability of data,” he said. “Within the European Union there are restrictions on the portability of data, for example in Poland. There are restrictions on how one can change infrastructure – for instance if you’re making a change in France to something that impacts staff … that needs to get works council approval.”

Chef can be used to automate some of these processes, though so can rival configuration aids such as Puppet (see disclosure). Why should European banks and other firms go with Chef? “Usage of these tools is certainly more mature in the U.S. than it is in Europe,” Arbuckle replied. “All we can do, given that the market is very underserved at present, is be very clear with our clients about which problems we can solve.”

Chef apparently saw European sales grow 400 percent during 2013, so it’s clearly on a roll. The company said it will have more than 10 employees in the continent by this year’s end.

Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media.