RealTime IT News

Opsware Plants a 'Virtual' Leg Up

Opsware Inc. has fortified its server automation in a bid to improve its chances of gobbling more market share against IBM, HP and CA in the multi-billion dollar market for datacenter automation software.

Opsware Server Automation System automates server provisioning, compliance, updates, and application configuration management -- all mundane tasks that can eat up IT administrators' time if done manually.

The latest version. 6.5, has been augmented to better accommodate physical computer servers based on Windows and Linux, as well as virtual servers from VMware, Microsoft or XenSource, said Sharmila Shahani, executive vice president of marketing for Opsware.

To make lives easier for Windows administrators, Server Automation System 6.5 can now integrate Microsoft Windows PowerShell, a command line shell and scripting language. With this feature, any information about a server managed by the Opsware System, such as what applications are running on the machine is now accessible from within PowerShell.

Server Automation System 6.5 also supports Microsoft Windows Pre-Installation Environment (WinPE) to facilitate Windows provisioning. The software also now creates exceptions on audit rules.

For Linux lovers, Server Automation System now manages servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 and integrates with the Red Hat Network to more easily keep systems up to date.

For example, Red Hat Enterprise users may now automatically download software updates and vendor recommendations to Opsware to free administrators from these tasks.

Getting physical servers to provision on the fly in datacenters is only half the battle. The proliferation of virtualized servers is spurring vendors such as Opsware to attend to virtualization management in order to rein in thousands of virtual machines.

To wit: Opsware's Virtualization Director, an add-on for Server Automation System 6.5, has been improved to offer discovery and application dependency mapping, along with process and workflow automation for virtual machines.

These features are possible thanks to the integration of Opsware's Visual Application Manager software and Opsware's Process Automation System, which the company gained through its $51 million purchase of iConclude.

"When companies are taking virtualization into production, they're still managing it in a very ad-hoc way," Shahani said. "A lot of the same principles they use to manage their physical environment are required for their virtual environments."

Finally, Server Automation System 6.5 now integrates with the Opsware Process Automation System to accommodate Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices for incident, problem, change and release management.

This pairing will help those customers who aren't really sure how to comply with ITIL rules, Shahani said.

The upgrades, available now, represent Opsware's latest step along the road to helping customers achieve "zero latency" in their datacenters, which is the company's goal toward serving data unfettered from the datacenter to the clients.

Opsware needs to succeed in this mission because IBM , CA , HP and BMC are hungrily eyeing the startup's share in what IDC expects will become a $10.4 billion server automation software market in a few years.

Currently, IBM and Opsware rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the market for server provisioning, IDC said.