Opalis marries data center policy, BI software

Data center automation specialist Opalis Software Inc. has released an integration server designed to provide IT departments greater visibility into the workflows between their data centers and enterprise users.

The Mississauga, Ontario-based company said Integration Server 5.5 will include both an operator's console that allows administrators to set up processes to be automated and make changes where necessary, and an executive dashboard that offers the kind of monitoring capabilities typical of business intelligence software. For example, the operator's console might show what's running in a data center and assign policies around it, while the executive dashboard could indicate whether a company was meeting its service-level agreement.

The benefit, according to Opalis Chief Technology Officer Charles Crouchman, is that CIOs or other senior technology professionals won't have to log onto back-end systems to measure the performance of their data center infrastructures.

"We're offering visibility into all the running processes, the status of each process graphically, what steps are executing, what's still to be completed," he said. "There's also an ability to drill even further to see data flowing through the system -- what came out of OpenView, what was sent to Remedy, what got sent to VMware to provision a new virtual machine."

VMware Inc. is actually an Opalis customer that demonstrates the need for an integration server, Crouchman added. The virtualization specialist has been going through a major growth phase, which includes not only hiring many new employees but also setting them up with the right systems and privileges.

"Doing this manually was a huge pain point for them," Crouchman said. "Automating that process gave them a huge return on investment." Even manually administrating servers and process logs is a bad sign, Crouchman said, because it makes auditing for compliance purposes much more difficult.

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Evelyn Hubbert said that Hewlett-Packard Co.'s acquisition of Opsware Inc. last year and BMC Software Inc.'s takeover of BladeLogic Inc. last month might mean that Opalis will be taken over by CA Inc. or another firm. But maybe not right away.

"In the short term, meaning the next 12 months or so, Opalis and those like Ingenuity will stay around, particularly because there is tons of need for integrating among the existing solutions out there," she said. "In the long term, I think it's going to be a challenge for the clients who are starting to consolidate their management tools into a few players, where they have monitoring tools, which are pretty heterogeneous, and IT service management tools."

Crouchman said Opalis is seeing much of its market opportunities come from firms that are struggling with configuration management, server provisioning, and fault and incident management. He said he sees an emerging trend around high availability and disaster recovery.

Managed service providers are also a target, because Integration Server's multi-tenancy capabilities allow users to manage more than a customer with a single instance of the product, he said. The key for Opalis is to provide something that a company can use right away, rather than waiting to reach a certain level of data center or process maturity.

"You don't have to spend a lot of time understanding and categorizing and cataloging all of your processes," Crouchman said. "That's probably counterproductive. You'll never get to actual implementation."

Opalis Integration Server 5.5 is available now, although pricing details were not announced.

This story, "Opalis marries data center policy, BI software" was originally published by ComputerWorld-Canada.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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