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System Initiative Cooks Up New Approach for DevOps Modernization

The startup, led by the founder of Chef, raises $18M with the goal to solve key challenges in the DevOps space.

Modern DevOps is more challenging than it should be for many organizations, which is a problem that startup System Initiative is looking to help solve.

System Initiative emerged from stealth on June 21, alongside $18 million in funding. The company is led by CEO and co-founder Adam Jacob, who is well-known in the DevOps space from his time as founder of Chef, which Progress Software acquired in 2020 for $220 million. Chef was an early entrant in the DevOps space, initially focusing on configuration management and growing its portfolio with application development, monitoring, and networking tools.

"The problem is that the way that we work in DevOps, the actual system, the way that the system itself is constructed, is now what's holding us back," Jacob told ITPro Today. "The way to think about it is that what's wrong with DevOps is these long feedback loops, tough collaboration, and bad context switching."

With System Initiative, the goal is to rethink how DevOps works by literally thinking and showing developers how DevOps can work for a production deployment. The startup has developed an intelligent automation platform that empowers DevOps teams to construct intricate interactive simulations of their infrastructure, enabling them to rapidly enhance their production environments.

Jacob pulled quote

Core platform capabilities of the platform include:

  • Focused collaboration, enabling multiple DevOps professionals to work together with a visual interface.
  • Intelligent automation to dynamically infer configuration and write the required code automatically.
  • Fast feedback loops to help validate that configurations are viable and accurate.
  • Customization with the use of TypeScript functions — the platform is highly customizable.

How System Initiative Aims to 'Fix' DevOps

With current approaches to DevOps, it can take a long time to know if a deployment is configured properly, according to Jacob.

The challenge is that DevOps professionals don't actually get the right feedback until the infrastructure and code are deployed and provisioned. What System Initiative does to solve those issues is build a full simulation of the real system — in effect it's a digital twin.

"We build full fidelity models of resources. So rather we don't build abstractions, we just model resources in all of their glory and then we allow you to qualify that model in real time," Jacob said.

System InitiativeSystem Initiative dashboard

System Initiative's intelligent automation platform enables DevOps teams to build intricate interactive simulations of their infrastructure.

If the resources are misconfigured and don't work, the System Initiative simulator will identify that immediately, he said. Going a step further, the system can use the underlying relationship across resources to dynamically infer the correct configuration and then generate the correct code so that it will work.

The reality of modern DevOps is that resource configurations change over time. That's another problem that System Initiative aims to solve. Jacob said the goal is to enable bidirectional reconciliation of the simulation with the live system.

"We're tracking the real world as a source of truth, and we're also tracking the simulation as a source of truth," he said. "Then we're allowing you to reconcile the two however you want."

System Initiative is currently available as a private beta, with the company planning to make the core technology open source in the future.

About the author

 Sean Michael Kerner headshotSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.
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