Opscode, battling Puppet, stresses enterprise cred in battle of the configuration stars

Opscode and Puppet Labs have spent the past few years one-upping each other with feature updates and customer wins in their battle to be the top provider of configuration management for the cloud computing era. And look for that battle to continue this week with Puppet Conf (see disclosure) kicking off in San Francisco.
opscodeartBut first, Opscode is starting it off with news Monday that it is merging Hosted Chef and Private Chef under the Enterprise Chef umbrella brand and that it’s working with network vendors so that one tool —  Enterprise Chef of course — can configure not just servers and associated VMs etc., but networking gear as well.
“We are building out API integration at the networking layer with Arista, Juniper(s jnpr), Cisco(s csco), Cumulus Networks, Plexxi and others,” said Jay Wampold, VP of marketing for  Opscode, Seattle.
The Arista integration is done now, with Juniper and Cisco work due within months, Wampold said.
But let me backtrack a second. Devops can use either Puppet or Chef to create reusable templates laying out how servers and resources are set up for a given job.
Chef itself, in its unpaid open-source form, has gained steam in the market — Amazon Web Services'(s amzn) Opsworks configuration management tool is based on Chef. Puppet Labs picked up some ready cash when VMware upped its ownership earlier this year to a new $30 million investment and last week Puppet announced a “content pack” for VMware vCenter Log Insight to help VMware shops get a better look into what’s going on in their infrastructure. Some worry that VMware’s ownership stake means that Puppet will be less than agnostic when it comes to users’ infrastructure choices, a claim that Puppet CEO Luke Kanies specifically denied.
David Mytton, CEO of Server Density, a London-based server and website monitoring company, opted for Puppet two years ago because, at that time, its console and documentation was better than Opscode’s. That said, he doesn’t feel there is much difference between the rival offerings any more, other than that “they both have their own language syntax for writing modules, which can be annoying to work with and are both quite heavy tools so competitors need to be much faster and lightweight,” he said.
And, as hot as these two market leaders are, upstarts are cropping up ready to take them on. SaltStack  won GigaOM’s Structure Launchpad competition in June and AnsibleWorks just landed $6 million in Series A funding to offer a commercial version of the open-source Ansible, which Mytton said is “very easy to use out of the box.” Fabric is another open-source configuration and systems management tool.
DisclosurePuppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.