VMware, a company not known for establishing strategic partnerships with other software companies has just made a very significant move. VWware has invested $30M in Puppet Labs and has established a strategic partnership with Puppet Labs. The goal of the partnership is to allow customers to realize the value of Puppet across a variety of VMware products including vSphere, vFabric Application Director, Cloud Automation Center, vCenter Operations Manager and vCenter Configuration Manager.

The Puppet Labs Strategy

Puppet Labs is in the process of completely reinventing the IT Automation space currently occupied by BMC BladeLogic, HP Server Automation, IBM Tivoli Service Automation Manager, and CA Server Automation. The first generation server automation tools from BMC, HP, IBM, and CA are known for being incredibly complex, incredibly difficult to install, incredibly difficult to use, incredibly expensive to purchase and incredibly expensive to maintain and own. In other words, these legacy automation tools have much in common with the entire legacy management stack in use at enterprises worldwide – it simply needs to be thrown out and re-implemented as organizations move to the Software Defined Data Center and the cloud.

Puppet is disrupting these legacy IT automation businesses on the following fronts:

  • Puppet is very easy to download and get up and running. In fact you can probably get it installed and working in less time than it would take to schedule a lunch with your legacy enterprise software sales representative from IBM, BMC, HP and CA.
  • Puppet is designed to be to use for the IT administrators who actually have to use the product day in and day out.
  • Puppet is being extended by a robust community of contributors who are collectively making Puppet more valuable to everyone every day
  • You can download Puppet and try it in production and make sure that it actually works in your environment before spending a penny on it
  • Puppet is affordable to purchase and affordable to own

The requirements for useful management software in virtualization and cloud computing environments are so different than legacy physical environments that meeting these new requirements clearly calls for a new management software product, not an addition of a feature to an old management software product. The ability to try the new product before buying it turns the entire management software purchase process on its head – in the favor of the customer. These two factors together mean that Puppet is in the process of completely re-inventing the IT Automation segment of the management software market.

Significance of the VMware Investment and Partnership with Puppet Labs

VMware is the dominant data center virtualization solution in the industry today. However, VMware faces intense competition at the hypervisor layer from Microsoft, and Red Hat. While the Software Defined Data Center is a huge and significant expansion of the traditional role of the hypervisor, VMware is also making a second bet. That second bet is upon being a management software company. On this front VMware offers vCenter Operations Manager, vCloud Automation Center, and vFabric Application Manager and the primary competitors for these management software offerings from VMware are the legacy management offerings from IBM, BMC, HP and CA.

While VMware has some attractive management software offerings today, VMware offerings are not as of right now well integrated enough, nor robust enough across the board (vCloud Automation Center being the exception) for true enterprise class deployments. Therefore VMware has work to do before it is ready to take IBM, BMC, HP and CA on in a head-to-head war. This investment in and partnership with Puppet can be seen as a way to inflict significant pain upon a set of future competitors across a breadth of environments that VMware is in no position to accomplish themselves.  It is therefore a brilliant move on the part of VMware to enable Puppet to take on a set of future competitors now across a broader battlefield than VMware intends to fight on with this investment and partnership.

On the Puppet side this partnership and investment also makes a ton of sense. Many customers have correctly concluded that when they virtualize they should re-address the question of what management stack to use. Many customers are choosing to leave the legacy management software on the physical servers, and uninstall it from servers as a part of the virtualization process. This creates a green field opportunity for vendors like Puppet who now have VMware’s installed base of 400,000 customer to sell to.

The complete Puppet Labs announcement is here –  “Puppet Labs Secures $30 Million Investment From VMware

Summary

VMware’s investment of $30M in Puppet Labs, and the partnership between the two companies enables Puppet to disrupt the broader IT automation market and address the specific opportunities for IT Automation in the VMware environment. This puts Puppet Labs in an excellent position to disrupt the legacy automation businesses of IBM, BMC, HP and CA and will ultimately help VMware sell its management stack into the new virtualized and cloud based environments as well.

 

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Bernd Harzog (336 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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