Hindsight is 2020: How we learned to swim in the river
Come December, it’s traditional in the industry to meditate on emerging trends and make predictions about how these will shape the year to come. I have my fair share of prognostications for 2021, but I want to take this moment to reflect on a year that could never have been predicted.
When I ruminate on 2020, I land again and again on one word: resilience. As an organization, Puppet pivoted to remote work in the second week of March and never looked back. Every individual at Puppet demonstrated remarkable adaptability as their home became their workspace and the concept of integrating work and home life took on new meaning. We, along with the rest of the world, were thrown wholesale into a river and had to learn how to swim or risk drifting downstream.
The amazing news? We’re all swimmers now.
I’m so proud of the way every single person at Puppet showed up for one another and their communities, embraced remote collaboration, created new systems to ensure the business succeeded, and found a new way to foster the Puppet culture we cherish. I’m proud, but I’m not surprised.
Building a Digital Community
The technology we build every day enables flexibility and generates resilience, and so too our company transformed to support our employees’ health and safety, while ensuring the business continues to flourish. Not only did we step up to support our employees with virtual office hours and enhanced communication, we expanded access to the Puppet Support Portal for all users and customers, upleveled engagement with our community on Slack, and moved our workshops and trainings online.
Speaking of events, we relaunched Puppet Camps for the first time since 2016 to cultivate collaboration within the community and share best practices across our user base. These virtual events served as a nexus for the Puppet ecosystem, and I encourage you to check out the playlists for Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, UK & Ireland, and America Central, East, and West. We also held our first-ever Federal Government Puppet Camp to bolster our federal, civilian, state and local government community of partners and practitioners. This event also enabled us to introduce the FIPS Compatible release of Puppet Enterprise.
In November, we hosted our first digital Puppetize and saw the highest registration ever for this fantastic conference. (Be sure to check out the recap of Puppetize on the blog.) I was so inspired by the talks given by several Puppet customers that highlighted the ways in which Puppet enabled them to transform and flourish in spite of the pandemic. It is so fulfilling to see the real impact our technology makes on the lives and companies of the people who use it. Check out these talks from our customers Athenahealth, NatWestGroup, University of Oregon, Walmart, and Willis Towers Watson.
Cloud, compliance and content
Our customers are the reason for Puppet. In the conversations that Abby, Deepak and I have with our customers, we learn from the source what will help make them more successful. This year, we launched multiple products and services to enhance our customers’ experience as they migrate deeper into the cloud. In June, we released the public beta of Relay which connects dozens of cloud platforms, tools, and APIs that developers, DevOps engineers, and SREs have managed manually in the past. In September, we partnered with Replicated whose KOTS (Kubernetes Off-The-Shelf) platform gives Puppet a way to deliver, scale and operationalize Continuous Delivery for Puppet Enterprise, as a cloud-native solution for scaling DevOps automation and practices across an organization.
As our customers tango with more cloud and hybrid environments, the need for compliance and security has never been higher. In May, we announced our new CIS compliance service to help our customers enhance their security profiles and better equip them to pass audits quickly and easily, and this month, we launched Puppet Comply, which provides customers with the required assessment capabilities through the product in addition to the CIS compliance service.
In addition to cloud and compliance, we focused on the need for integration and the rise of DevOps practices. In September, we announced new Windows services, integrations and enhancements aimed at making it easier to automate and manage infrastructure using tools Windows admins rely on day in and day out. Our 2020 State of DevOps Report found a correlation between self-service platforms and DevOps success. The findings show that establishing a platform approach to software delivery helps organizations standardize and scale DevOps practices across more application development teams.
It was exceptionally good timing, then, for us to announce the Puppet Enterprise Platform, our new platform approach which integrates Puppet Enterprise, Puppet Connect and Relay, giving platform teams the ability to take advantage of Puppet’s automation expertise and expand it throughout their organization in the most relevant and impactful ways based on their business needs. The Puppet Enterprise Platform offers a combination of model-driven, event-driven and task-based automation, with integrated business solutions (Puppet Comply and Puppet Remediate) giving our customers the power to drive business velocity and consistency demanded by today’s increasingly hybrid DevOps environments.
The community and our values
The open source engine behind the Puppet Enterprise Platform is the Forge, a catalogue of modules created by the Puppet team, our partners, and our community. Our open source contributors are a crucial part of the Puppet ecosystem and serve as subject matter experts. In fact, this year we soft-launched our Trusted Contributor program to enable the community to share their expertise. We also launched the Open Source Puppet Assist portal, which offers short-form guides for common Puppet module development tasks that will save our users a ton of time.
With the support of our community, Puppet announced that we would remove harmful terminology from our software and documentation. Language matters, and outmoded terms perpetuate an inequitable system we refuse to uphold. These conversations were instigated by the events in the United States that resulted in a national consciousness-raising about how much systemic racism permeates every aspect of our society. We stand with the Black community and will continue to do the work to dismantle unfair and biased systems.
Since I became the CEO at Puppet, I have prioritized our values around inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility. We founded the IDEA council to devote time and resources to upholding our values, including partnering with the Portland Incubator Experiment to create the Innovation Lab at Puppet, a mentorship program for entrepreneurs that focuses on systemically underrepresented populations, including women and members of the LGBTQ+, Black and Latinx communities. We joined Pledge 1%, a global movement dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes contribute to philanthropic causes, and we donated over $47,000 from our State of DevOps sponsors to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund, No Child Hungry, and Doctors Without Borders.
The team of the future
We give back because we understand the importance of being a socially conscious business — and because we can. In July, Puppet secured $40 million in financing from funds managed by BlackRock. This round of funding ensures that we as a company can continue to innovate on our product portfolio and scale our operations. This year, we’ve welcomed such incredible additions to our team — our new CTO Abby Kearns, and Paul Heywood, who was promoted to CRO. In November, we added two new Board members who bring a specific set of skills and expertise as we enter our next phase of growth and an eventual IPO.
I’m so grateful to work with such a brilliant, motivated, visionary team dedicated to building the engine that powers our customers’ infrastructure.
More than ever, I’m amazed by the resilience of Puppet’s employees, our community, and our partners. Intellectually, it’s easy to understand that Puppet products allow our customers to be more flexible and adaptable, but to see the human impact that Puppet has had on our customers and in our communities during a global crisis has truly taken my appreciation for being part of the Puppet community to a whole new level. This year has been one for the books — and I can’t wait for 2021 to arrive.
Yvonne Wassenaar is CEO at Puppet.