Chef cooks up a tasty dish, awash with lovely valley lucre

Sweet, sweet venture cash is the stuff that makes the tech world go around. The folks at Chef are serving up a good dose today.

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Automation is, in an age where speed and agility are seen as the most important factors for a business, a key driver of growth. One of the best-known vendors in the IT automation space, Chef, is today announcing a $40 million Series E funding round.

The round was led by DFJ Growth and included Millennium Technology Value Partners, as well as all existing investors: Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, DFJ, Ignition Partners, and ScaleVP. Perhaps most interestingly, Hewlett Packard Ventures also joined the round with a strategic investment. While one could spend an age talking about HP's tortured and torturous history in the cloud (the company has launched a cloud platform more times than I can count), this world of IT automation is far closer to its traditional wheelhouse.

Founded in 2008, Chef Software's aim is a big one - it wants to fundamentally change the way organizations build and deliver software. It does so by selling an automation platforms - quite simply, instead of manually having to set up every single server, organizations can create their own "recipes" for distinct server patterns. These recipes can then be used at scale to speed up the provisioning of infrastructure.

Now, the interesting thing here is that if you were to read the view of more forward-looking tech commentators, you'd be excused for thinking that the world is going to move to containers and microservices in short order. The reality is somewhat different than that - the vast majority of enterprise IT still uses very traditional patterns - heck, server virtualization is seen as cutting-edge in many areas. As such, vendors like Chef that make IT provisioning faster may not be super sexy, but they have a massive market opportunity. The company already claims half of the Fortune 50 as customers.

Companies including Facebook, GE, Target, Bloomberg, Nordstrom, Gap, IBM, Yahoo, and Intuit, are among the more than 750 customers using Chef to accelerate software delivery. In addition to customers, Chef has built a strong channel strategy with AWS, HP, and Microsoft, all part of Chef’s go-to-market efforts.

Chef's leadership is unsurprisingly ebullient about the opportunity. “This is an inflection point for Chef as a company. Our innovations are becoming the primary bridge between traditional IT and New IT in the enterprise,” Chef CEO Barry Crist said. “Today we enter a new era as the automation control plane for digital-first organizations everywhere, and this new capital will help us take DevOps mainstream." Fighting words indeed.

Chef is part of a fundamental shift in the way IT happens. This funding is testimony to that and will no doubt fuel the company to ever-greater heights.

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