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Puppet Goes Deeper On DevOps With New Products, Expands Cisco And Microsoft Alliances

The IT automation tech firm unveiled offerings for improved discovery of hybrid infrastructure and enhanced DevOps capabilities.

IT infrastructure automation firm Puppet on Wednesday unveiled sweeping product updates including a new offering focused on bolstering the DevOps capabilities of its product portfolio, along with expanded partnerships with vendors such as Cisco and Microsoft aimed at improved automation.

Puppet also announced general availability of Puppet Discovery—a new standalone product that informs customers about all of the IT infrastructure they are running—along with the newest version of Puppet Enterprise.

[Related: Puppet Launches New Partner Portal As Channel Push Heats Up]

Executives told CRN that the announcements demonstrate Puppet's evolution from a company with a single product into a platform company—which provides far bigger opportunities for channel partners.

"We're all focused now on helping partners to deliver that message," said John Schwan, vice president of global partner sales and programs at Puppet, who added that the company's percentage of sales through the channel have "significantly grown" over the past year.

Puppet's core software is used to provide a common code for defining applications and infrastructure—leading to a standard way to manage all infrastructure such as private and public cloud, containers, storage and networking. The Portland, Ore.-based company offers an open source version of its software as well as Puppet Enterprise, which is focused on automating key parts of IT operations such as infrastructure delivery and security.

Puppet Discovery

The new standalone Puppet Discovery product, which initially launched in limited preview in October, can uncover anything that an organization with a hybrid environment might be running—including on-premises, public cloud, container-based or virtual infrastructure.

Puppet Discovery should serve as a "fantastic on-ramp" for partners that are looking to mature their automation practices, said Tim Zonca, Puppet's senior vice president of worldwide marketing and business development.

Puppet Discovery means that "organizations can now start to address the shadow IT concerns that many are facing, even within containers," said Chuck Crawford, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Fishtech, a Kansas City, Mo.-based partner of Puppet, in an email.

That includes conducting workflow and swim lanes for provisioning and de-provisioning of containerized environments, Crawford said.

DevOps Offerings

Due to its automation capabilities, Puppet's software has become a central component for many companies' DevOps initiatives, which target faster deployments of software.

Puppet's newly announced product, Continuous Delivery for Puppet Enterprise, aims to go even deeper in terms of bringing together the development and operations sides of organizations.

The product combines a continuous-integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) solution with Puppet's "infrastructure-as-code" approach. The promise, according to Puppet, is that operations and development teams will now be able to use the same tools and interface. The new offering is expected to launch in June.

For channel partners, "this is an opportunity to bring to the table the functionality and features known by the dev world to help the ops world," Schwan said, calling it "another up-sell opportunity to a higher solution set" for partners.

"I think this will have a massive impact for our partners that are helping customers to mature their DevOps practices and technologies," Schwan said.

The team at Fishtech is "very excited about Puppet's portfolio expansion and focus in the DevOps space," Crawford said. "More organizations are adopting a DevOps model and struggling to incorporate a DevSecOps-type workflow. Issues of visibility, standardization, and automation complicate the effort, which affects compliance and risk management initiatives ... With a dedicated focus on the DevSecOps and automation space, Puppet is a crucial partner for our go-to-market strategy."

Industry Partnerships

Another major announcement from Puppet is the expansion of partnerships with a number of top industry vendors, including a partnership to enable improved management of Cisco devices. The aim is to provide enhanced automation for management of devices such as Cisco Catalyst and Meraki, as well as deployment and management of Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure).

As part of the expanded partnership, Puppet announced the private beta release of its Cisco IOS Module. The module provides agentless management of Cisco Catalyst switches, and is so named because the switches run Cisco's IOS networking software.

At Lake Oswego, Oregon-based IGNW, a Cisco Digital Solutions Integrator partner and Puppet Service Delivery Partner, "many of our customers use Cisco networking devices and want to leverage their Puppet expertise and investments to manage those networks," said Andrew Cadwell, CEO and managing partner at IGNW, in an email. "Customers are looking to increase their agility and bring automation to their network operations."

The expanded partnership between Cisco and Puppet means that both legacy and modern Cisco networks can be managed with a single product, Cadwell said.

"We're especially excited by the agentless management capability of the new modules coming out — Cisco IOS, Cisco ACI and Cisco Meraki — which gives our customers even more agility and choice," he said.

Meanwhile, Puppet also announced updates geared toward better discovery and management of Microsoft Azure and Windows infrastructure. The updates include automatic generation of the Azure Resource Manager module, easier management of Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration resources and support for Microsoft's Task Scheduler 2.0 API in a new Scheduled Tasks module.

Other new partnerships include Nutanix and Barracuda, which are partnering with Puppet around modules for networking and hybrid cloud automation.

Puppet Enterprise

Additionally, Puppet unveiled the newest update to its flagship offering with the release of Puppet Enterprise 2018.1. The release features upgrades including Puppet Tasks role-based access control (for improved defining of node groups), Puppet Bolt Task Plans (for enhanced running and tracking of tasks) and simplified backup and recovery capabilities.

Schwan said the portion of Puppet's business going through the channel has expanded since the company introduced a new segmented sales model in early 2017, which designates mid-market accounts as partner-only. "That's had a huge impact in terms of getting mind share," he said.

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