Devops player SaltStack wins Structure LaunchPad competition and investor interest

As companies launch new applications and products more often, they need to be able to add gear quickly and easily. Hence the rise of devops, which merges software development and operations. Configuration management tools Puppet and Chef have ridden this wave, and on Thursday investors gave their seal of approval to another such tool, SaltStack.

The Salt Lake City-based startup, which stands out for its use of Python, won the LaunchPad competition at our Structure 2013 event in San Francisco.

While the win doesn’t seal the deal on venture funding, it does show a sign that serious, enterprise-focused investors see opportunity in the startup. This time around, Luis Robles of Sequoia Capital, Bipul Sinha of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners were the ones to choose the winner. That credibility could  help SaltStack in its quest to go far beyond its open-source origins.

“We want more users, but we also want commercial clients — paying customers. We’ve got to build a business,” said Marc Chenn, SaltStack’s CEO and a co-founder. Already the company counts LinkedIn, (s lnkd) Fusion-io, (s fio) Hewlett-Packard’s (s hpq) HP Cloud, Hulu, Major League Soccer and as users.

In winning the competition — and joining the ranks of such previous winners as, DotCloud and CloudSwitch — SaltStack beat out five considerable runners-up:

  • 28msec lets users ingest data from many databases and query it all with familiar SQL-like terms. The startup has been in stealth for nearly seven years because building such a platform took time.
  • AppScale aims to help companies build and run applications without becoming too reliant on any one Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider. Instead of offering a separate PaaS for application development, AppScale lets customers take their apps running on Google (s goog) App Engine and also run them on premise or on other infrastructure.
  • seeks to make it easy for developers to do what they do best: write code. The idea is to automate procedural work such as making notes on project-management software and posting on GitHub.
  • MetricaDB can pull data from such divergent sources as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) programs and NoSQL databases, run SQL queries on it and export results for further analysis. The product’s straightforward approach enables business analysts to work with the data, rather than force them to learn new languages.
  • Synapsify runs through great lots of English-language text and identifies the small portions that do the best job of summarizing themes. The founders also see their offering as a time-saver for measuring sentiment, credibility and other qualities humans can pick up in text.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page