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A One-Stop Shop For Data Center Control

Opsware, which specializes in software that automates data center operations, said it has upgraded its two core products, added two new ones, and lumped them into one platform.

Opsware System 6 marks a departure from the company's sales approach.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company has traditionally offered its server automation and server products separately. As of today, the products come in one suite to facilitate server, network, storage and applications operations.

Opsware System 6 includes Server Automation System 6, Opsware Network Automation System 6, and two new items: Opsware Visual Application Manager and the Opsware Network security service. Customers may buy the whole suite, or each product separately.

The change in packaging is a function of market demand, said Eric Vishria, vice president of marketing.

When businesses scale, applications running in data centers are typically distributed across several servers, storage systems, network devices and other computers to bring data to workers.

Moreover, Web services add another level of complexity because multiple messages are sent from endpoint to endpoint across networks.

Such complexity can strain IT staffs that may be overworked, undermanned or both. Rather than adding more IT workers and straining budgets, CIOs are looking for high-tech solutions to neutralize the toll on their resources.

This is why automating the operations that support the company's applications is a boon for the harried IT administrator who is often trying to do more with less.

Opsware System 6 is a potential salve for businesses, Vishria said. The package allows admins to view all servers, networks and applications and learn about their relationships.

The new Opsware Server Automation System 6, available early in the second half of this year, boasts a compliance dashboard with templates for Sarbanes-Oxley, ITIL, HIPAA and other compliance solutions, as well as point-in-time audit functions across servers and software.

This is crucial at a time when compliance regulations are breathing down the necks of corporations for better record retention implementations.

The software has also been tuned to better manage multi-tiered applications, and includes a policy framework that governs software, patches and application configurations.

Server Automation System 6 also better meshes with the new Network Automation System 6 software to resolve network-server configuration incongruences. Network Automation System 6 prevents unwanted changes from being propagated into the network.

Joining the System 6 fray are Visual Application Manager and Opsware Network.

The former is an application-mapping product that provides a holistic view of the relationships between servers, software, and network devices; the latter is an enhanced subscription service that provides on-the-fly security alerts and compliance policy updates.

Such products might seem like a boon given the problems they solve. But Opsware faces some stiff competition from the likes of Symantec, IBM, HP, BMC Software, Mercury Interactive and Tideway Systems.

Opsware, which enjoys a cozy reseller deal with Cisco Systems and hopes to top the $100 million revenue mark in 2006, will soon battle EMC in this market.

EMC agreed to purchase application mapping and change management specialist nLayers last week for an undisclosed sum.

While nLayers is on the small side compared to Opsware, EMC has $4 billion in cash and a global services force of 10,000, bringing the information systems vendor in head-to-head competition with Opsware.