Startup HashiCorp wants to take the grind out of development setup

Mitchell Hashimoto aims to build a business out of getting developers up and running with as little pain as possible. On Wednesday he’s launching HashiCorp, a San Francisco company that aims to streamline the workflow developers need to configure virtual environments on their machines.

A few years ago, while still a student at the University of Washington, Hashimoto created Vagrant, open source software that automates the workflow needed for this setup.

The software, which so far works with Oracle’s VirtualBox on the developer’s PC, enables the creation of isolated sandboxes for each project. “You give them the computer with Git [versioning] installed and Vagrant, you double click and it clones out your environment … Vagrant hooks into Virtualbox(s orcl) and uses CFEngine, Chef or Puppet to set up your virtual workspaces,” Hashimoto said.

In his view, this is no small problem to attack. When companies hire a new developer, it can take a week or two to set up each machine manually, he said. “Vagrant automates all that. You type it in and in three minutes it’s up and running,” Hashimoto told me recently.

Vagrant already claims big-name users at Yammer(s msft), Disqus, the BBC News, Mozilla, Expedia, LivingSocial(s amzn) and Nokia. With companies like that in the fold, he figured it was time to promote Vagrant from side project to a real business.

HashiCorp, which Hashimoto is funding himself for now, will expand Vagrant beyond VirtualBox with support for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and vSphere to follow. While core Vagrant will remain free and open source, HashiCorp will charge for support, training, services, and add-ons, he said.