Dell, Puppet Labs Team Up on IT Automation
After Dell founder Michael Dell took the company private early in 2013, the company made a move to acquire Quest Software for $2.5 billion. This acquisition is now getting bolstered by an integration with Puppet Labs. Puppet Labs is an IT automation provider, and it will be integrated with Dell's Active System Manager for helping customers do things like deploy workloads and allocate server and storage resources on demand.

Software Defined Infrastructure: Buzzword Candidate for 2014

Dell has long been known as a prominent PC builder, but with smartphone and tablets ready to take over the PC market, the company has shifted its focus to IT infrastructure and enterprise datacenters. However, even this industry is being upended by companies like Amazon and Google. But as enterprise companies have made huge investments in their own hardware, it will be many years before they fully embrace the cloud.

That's where companies like Puppet Labs come in. It can sit in between the hardware that companies like Dell, VMWare and Cisco have installed, and the customers who are increasingly demanding the rapid deployment capabilities available from Amazon, Google and other cloud computing companies.

Gartner has outlined this phenomenon as the software defined datacenter or software defined infrastructure; it's the idea of software defined anything really -- a term that will no doubt be just as confusing as "cloud" has proven to be. Dell's Active System Manager is made to help companies run IT stacks from one place, and with the version 7.5 launch scheduled sometime in 2014, it will feature automation tools from Puppet Labs.

Companies running their IT systems in the cloud or on premises have more flexibility in the software defined era, or at least that is the plan. Puppet Labs is Dell's exclusive partner with the Active System Manager launch, but Puppet Labs has similar deals in place with VMWare and Cisco, Luke Kanies, founder and CEO of Puppet Labs said in an interview.

Puppet Labs has been in the IT automation industry for nearly a decade, and it is backed by investments from VMWare, Google Ventures, Cisco, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Automating IT

Whether we call it IT automation, software defined infrastructure or converged infrastructure (Dell's apparent nomenclature of choice), the point is IT can be in the physical, virtual or cloud environment, and be more flexible if it's managed the right way.

Puppet Labs now has 1,400 customers in this area, including Google, Bank of America, Twitter and GitHub. In fact one of Puppet Lab's first customers was a company called MessageOne which ended up getting bought out by Dell. That was the genesis of the partnership, Kanies said. MessageOne happened to be run by Michael Dell's brother Adam. Puppet Labs is a private company, so Kanies declined to reveal revenue numbers, but it is growing fast. It made Inc. magazine's "Inc. 5000 List" in 2013, and the only way to do that is to achieve a minimum 918.59 percent growth rate.

The Puppet Labs integration will be included in the Dell Active System Manager pricing, and will offer customers automation of provisioning, configuration and orchestration. Dell is holding its Dell World conference this week in Austin, Texas, and Puppet Labs has a booth there to show off the partnership, Kanies said.