UpGuard Blog

2013 DevOps Year in Review

Written by Alan Sharp-Paul | Dec 31, 2013 9:26:00 PM

Wow! 2013 is over, done, kaput. It's hard to believe. Time flies when you're having fun (or building a business). Now is the time to look back though and reflect on what 2013 meant for DevOps, myself and UpGuard. This post will by no means be exhaustive. It's written through my eyes and based on my experience, and my head has been down working for large chunks of the year. I'll add an additional warning that it will be a little tongue in cheek. I make no apologies for that ;)

So, with that disclaimer out of the way let's begin.

2013 - The Year of the DevOps?

In many respects DevOps came of age this year, for better or worse. There can be no doubt that it went mainstream, the big vendors piled on, marketers and recruiters latched on to the keyword. DevOpsDays went from strength to strength, with 16 events across 5 continents.

We attended (and sponsored) several of the DevOpsDays events and had a lot of fun. The atmosphere was convivial, the crowd welcoming. Questions of privilege and bias that plagued the tech world in general this year were thankfully avoided. Having said this there is always room to improve the obvious gender imbalance.

A general comment I would have on the DevOps movement as a whole is that its main proponents have maintained a focus on the more bleeding edge or intellectual aspects. I'd argue that this a potential barrier to entry for wider adoption. Donnie Berkholz wrote most eloquently about this for Red Monk (I added my two cents as well).

Thought leaders may argue that the movement will not progress without this focus but the risk, as I see it, is that the practical/pragmatic aspect of it will be usurped by the big vendors, heightening the chance of DevOps losing credibility. I wrote about this when I asked if DevOps had Jumped the Shark.

Despite that conversation starter I remain bullish on DevOps and look forward to 2014 being an even bigger year.

Configuration Management Movers and Shakers

Our eyes have been focused on the configuration management space so I apologize if this section appears somewhat blinkered. Puppet looked to confirm their position as the Enterprise tool of choice with their release of Puppet Enterprise 3.0 in January. Chef had a turbulent year but returned fire with the announcement of their rebranded Enterprise Chef product in August. Salt chipped away, although whilst their community numbers were strong it didn't feel like they were having as much anecdotal impact on the market. CFEngine are hanging in there but their message is getting lost. The early part of the year belonged to AnsibleWorks, with all the early year buzz going to the rapidly growing user base they were attracting for their simplified tool.

The cloud on the horizon for all these vendors though was another open source project, docker.io, with their new take on an old concept (containers) seen by many as having the potential to do to the automation space what virtualization did to the server market.


Open source search & analytics vendor Elasticsearch added log management (Logstash - Jordan Sissel) and visualization (Kibana - Rashid Khan) in moves that just made sense.

The big boys also put their stakes in the ground. IBM and CA chose CI/CD as their targets for bolstering their DevOps chops, acquiring UrbanCode and Nolio respectively. Dell bought both tech and marketing clout through its acquisition of the cloud management provider Enstratius.

Other than Puppet's low key acquisition of Cloudsmith for their IDE and developer chops the automation space was fairly quiet, although the $30M Puppet took in funding from VMWare set tongues wagging.


The automation incumbents continued their game of funding leapfrog, Puppet and Chef both doing Series D rounds this year. Puppet's choice to take their $30M from VMWare alone sent a message that was vigorously denied. Chef took $32M and looked to finally shake the "service company with an open source tool" tag by officially rebranding from OpsCode to Chef.

AnsibleWorks were the darlings of the VC set though, pulling a $6M Series A within six months of being founded for their better version of Puppet's mousetrap. Rumours of an insane round for Docker are circulating as well but no official word on that just yet.


2013 was a big year for us here, but as we look back we realize we're only just getting started. We hit important milestones like signing our first Fortune 500 companies here in the US, as well as pure vanity ones like passing our 1000th twitter follower.

For us though 2013 was about proving our key hypotheses. We believed that configuration management was too hard for a large section of the market, that many companies simply weren't ready for it. Our focus was on simplicity and, most importantly, visibility. Give a company visibility of their applications, servers and systems and you empower them. Once you know what you've got you can automate it, you can move it to the cloud, heck, you can even containerize it.

For us the proof in the pudding has been the response to our launch of our UpGuard product at DEMO Fall in October. Sign ups for both the free and Enterprise versions are through the roof and we couldn't be happier. So a big thank you to our customers, investors and supporters. We're looking forward to a huge 2014.

Visual Configuration Differencing with UpGuard

Giving Back

Tech companies and staff behaving badly has been another unfortunate theme of 2013. At UpGuard we are very proud to call the Bay Area our home. We are thankful for the amazing opportunities available to companies like ours here and are likewise aware that these benefits aren't shared equally amongst its residents. As a end of year token we will be donating $200 to United Way of the Bay Area (did you know 1 in 5 Bay Area residents live in poverty?). We'll add another $1 for every social share this post gets up to $500 by next Friday (I'll post the final total here next week).

Happy New Year!

From all of us at UpGuard, we wish you a safe and Happy New Year, and an amazing 2014!