Puppet Missed the Kubernetes Boat — Then Perforce Came Along
DevOps solution provider Perforce Software’s acquisition of Puppet reflects how the front- and backend of the cloud native universe is taking shape and why Puppet’s strong presence was conspicuously missing in that universe.
Once Perforce integrates Puppet’s infrastructure automation tools with its DevOps platform that embraces the Kubernetes universe, Puppet’s automation tools will be more relevant for cloud native support than it has been. Perforce, meanwhile, is gaining a suite of automation tools for DevOps that should enable it to better compete in today’s cloud native universe and in support of DevOps in general.
“After last year’s cancellation of their IPO, it became clear that Puppet needed a place that could complement its strong infrastructure automation capabilities with a set of relevant DevOps tools,” Torsten Volk, an analyst for Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), told The New Stack. “Tying the Perforce portfolio together on top of the Puppet automation platform could become a strong play in the DevOps market.”
Indeed, Mark Ties, CEO of Perforce, told The New Stack in an email response how Perforce will make use of Puppet’s infrastructure-automation tools and engineering support. “Puppet’s infrastructure automation solutions simplify complexity for infrastructure and operations teams in order for businesses to strengthen their security posture, compliance and resiliency beyond the data center to the cloud,” Ties told The News Stack. “Combined, our two companies’ solutions scale a broad spectrum of the DevOps lifecycle.”
Missed in Action
The open source Kubernetes and cloud native landscape amid hundreds of CNCF tools can now largely be characterized by the following open source-driven processes and platforms: They cover the very beginning of the production pipeline (the much overused “shift left” description) and are applicable throughout CI/CD and once applications are deployed on notoriously complex-to-manage Kubernetes clusters. Docker containers, Jenkins for CI/CD pipeline and YAML (lest we forget), Git repositories (GitHub and GitLab (to a lesser extent) supported by open source Flux and Argo CD are among them. For automation, Ansible and Salt remain the dominant players and Terraform is the leading infrastructure as code (IaC) platform.
“Puppet was the last one standing after Chef, Ansible, and Salt all had found new homes inside of larger organizations,” Volk said.
HashiCorp has largely been Puppet’s closest competitor. Terraform was also the 800-pound gorilla in the space that Puppet, as well as Chef, have also not been able to come close to competing against.
“HashiCorp simply managed to find its place in the new Kubernetes universe much faster than Puppet did,” Volk said.
It was also much easier, of course, for HashiCorp to position Terraform, Vault and Consul to complement Kubernetes, “as these tools had much less legacy baggage than Puppet did” when Kubernetes emerged in 2015, Volk said.
“Terraform was especially boosted by its focus on making data center and cloud infrastructure easily consumable by anyone and was offering a clear path toward DevOps for many traditional infrastructure vendors,” Volk said. “Puppet never found this type of business accelerator for its own portfolio and eventually fizzled out.
As The New Stack Analyst Lawrence E. Hecht noted, Puppet, as well as Chef, never came close to competing against Terraform. This can also be attributed to how Puppet and Chef “were used by infrastructure people and not developers. Two years ago, DevOps and SREs were open to using Puppet for infrastructure as code, but that never translated to enough wins for the company,” Hecht said. (Hecht also noted that Terraform isn’t losing share, since “the question is what percentage of cloud environments Terraform is needed for the management of cloud and multicloud adoption.”
Puppet’s struggles to gain a foothold in the cloud native space with its infrastructure as code and automation tools are hardly news, either. I have seen this statement being made by DevOps folks with whom I’ve spoken, and have seen this statement being made at least one conference I attended.
Regardless, Puppet has been left out. While this is largely due to how Puppet did not embrace Kubernetes as early as its competitors did, the issue is now mute. What is relevant now is what Puppet will offer Perforce in the cloud native and infrastructure automation, Volk said.
“In a way, Puppet can now go back to its roots of declarative infrastructure automation and connect these proven capabilities with Perforce’s portfolio of developer and DevOps tools,” Volk said. “This is a capability that Perforce needs to turn its portfolio of individual products into a strong DevOps competitor.”
Indeed, as Ties confirmed, there is no overlap between Puppet’s offerings and the current Perforce DevOps platform and Puppet obviously offered what Perforce deems is a good fit.
“This marks our 11th acquisition in the last six years that I’ve been fortunate to see through as CEO. We continually seek to grow both organically and via acquisition, so we are always looking for potential acquisition targets that will fill out and complement our existing portfolio across the development pipeline and application lifecycle,” Ties said. “Puppet’s enterprise-grade solutions fit really well with our mission to help our customers solve the hardest challenges in DevOps.”
“Joining with Perforce was a strategic decision for Puppet and our customers,” Yvonne Wassenaar, CEO of Puppet, told The New Stack. “With the power of Perforce behind us, we are better positioned to acquire companies to expand the Puppet branded portfolio and we can offer our customers a broader and deeper portfolio of DevOps solutions. It is a clear win/win for our team members and our customers.”