published on 20 October 2016

It's 2016, and wow, PuppetConf sure has grown since it was launched in 2011. This is my fourth PuppetConf, and the sheer amount we have to share with you, our community, has never been greater.

Opening day kicked off with a welcome from our founder, Luke Kanies.

As always, Luke concentrated on Puppet's future in our fast-changing IT industry. But first, Luke offered reminders of how much Puppet has grown just since last year's conference:

  • More than 34,000 companies now use Puppet, including 75 of the Fortune 500.
  • More than 1,640 people have contributed to Puppet modules.
  • We've been at nearly 100 industry events around the world.
  • More than 470 people now work at Puppet.

Just like our customers, though, we can't rest on our laurels. The business world moves fast, and IT has to move faster. IT complexity will never stop getting more complex. Puppet users need to know that as it's time to consider new technologies like Docker, Kubernetes and Mesos — and other new technologies being developed right at this moment — Puppet will always be there, adding integrations and capabilities to help you adopt the most useful and appropriate technologies for your business, as smoothly as possible.

Much as we love taking on the next new thing, we're highly aware that most of the world's IT is still running on traditional legacy infrastructure. We want to help you bridge from the old tech to the new tech, and we do that by enabling your teams to work together across all your infrastructure. Puppet is the common language of IT for your entire organization, abstracting away the technical details that can get in the way of working together on common business goals.

Luke started Puppet to solve people's problems, and Puppet has succeeded so well, it has now reached another level of maturity. That is why Sanjay Mirchandani has stepped up from his role as president and COO to become Puppet's new CEO. With his experience in helping organizations successfully scale software from initial installation to adoption across the enterprise, Sanjay is uniquely suited to helping you, our customers, do exactly that.

With that introduction, Sanjay emerged to give his debut PuppetConf talk. Sanjay first got to know Puppet several years ago, while he was CIO of EMC. Sanjay saw for himself what a difference Puppet made, allowing EMC to become an acknowledged leader in IT innovation.

In his first few months at Puppet, Sanjay learned quickly how deeply the Puppet community cares about the software, the company, the future of technology, and each other. He reiterated the company's commitment in particular to open source Puppet, saying that even as the company evolve, "We are dramatically scaling up our work in open source. All our Blueshift work is in open source."

Sanjay's CIO experience gives him a particular lens on what he's been hearing from Puppet customers since his arrival earlier this year. He knows that CIOs feel keenly the increasing pace of business today, and they're talking about the digital transformation their companies need to make to stay competitive.

The stakes are high. Since 2000, half the names on the Fortune 500 have disappeared from the list, largely because digital business models have taken over — and the companies that didn't adapt didn't make it.

On the other hand, companies that have risen into the ranks are those that have fully accepted digital change, and who are successfully riding that wave. And it's our community of engineers who have made it happen, who have done the hard work of turning software and IT into a strategic partner in the business.

What's new in Puppet Enterprise 2016.4

Luke introduced the changes in Puppet Enterprise 2016.4. These changes are aimed at helping our customers achieve:

  • Situational awareness.
  • Clear control over all your infrastructure, both legacy and new.
  • A single consistent way to manage all your infrastructure.

Jamie Hull, Puppet's vice president of product, took the stage to introduce UX team members Verne Lindner, Melissa Campbell and Tyler Pace. These three demonstrated just how PE 2016.4 gives you situational awareness, direct control, and helps you move traditional workloads to a containerized environment.

Puppet at Nike

Next up was Mike Wittig, Nike's senior director of consumer digital infrastructure services. Mike talked about how critical digital transformation has been for Nike, the world's premier maker and seller of athletic gear. Nike's brand is all about enabling the athlete in every one of us, and the company's IT team has driven digital transformation with that same competitive spirit.

Mike offered the example of how Nike.com's effectiveness was transformed by a shift in IT practices. During the 2014 Christmas shopping season, Nike.com simply couldn't keep up with the pace of 800 orders per minute. The Jordan business line had to cancel all orders, and put a stop on new shoe launches for the next three months.

Nike spent 2015 overhauling its IT processes, and automation was key to that transformation. To make a long story short (don't worry — you'll be able to watch the keynote videos soon!), Nike.com moved its data center, chose a clutch of new partners, and adopted Puppet for the automation underpinning its new processes.

The results of this digital transformation? A complete shift in the relationship between IT, development and the business. Since the transformation:

  • Nike.com has never had to halt a launch.
  • The business has full trust in Nike.com's capabilities, and so the site sells far more of Nike's inventory than it used to.
  • IT is now seen as providing real strategic advantage to Nike.
  • Developers can define and provision environments as needed, giving them far greater agility.

The state of DevOps today

Speaking of DevOps, the last mainstage event of the morning was a panel discussion of DevOps today. Discussion leader Nigel Kersten, CIO & vice president of operations at Puppet, was joined by Cornelia Davis, senior director of technology at Pivotal; Jez Humble, a founder of DevOps Research and Assessment, LLC; Gene Kim, IT researcher, founder of IT Revolution and a co-author of The Phoenix Project; and Bethany Macri, an application engineer at Etsy. Everyone in this crowd loves DevOps, and the panel kept everyone's attention, both in person and on Twitter.

We'll leave you with a couple more tweets about PuppetConf. Check us out tomorrow for a wrap of Day 2 keynotes.

Aliza Earnshaw is the editorial director at Puppet.

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