Opsware adds storage to datacenter automation suite

Opsware has been on a roll. Last Friday, Hewlett-Packard completed its tender offer for the $1.

Opsware has been on a roll. Last Friday, Hewlett-Packard completed its tender offer for the $1.6 billion cash acquisition of the company. Opsware now has 450 customers, 500 employees and will have close to $150 million in revenue this year (60 percent growth for the year). A recent IDC survey on server provisioning software showed Opsware a strong number two to IBM in a market slated to increase to $900 million in 2011, a five-year compound annual growth rate of 21.7 percent.

This week the company is filling out its datacenter automation software with Opsware Suite 7. "System 7 is significant," said Jason Rosenthal, senior vice president of server automation. "We are adding storage automation and taking it to the next level in the integration of all components, with a common data model. We have network, server, storage, visualization, reporting and process management with a single, unified view and management approach to handling large, distributed applications." So far, Lehman Brothers, Network Appliance and SunGuard have signed up for the new suite, he said.

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Suite 7 introduces what Rosenthal called application-centric storage automation, the Opsware Application Storage Automation System 1.0. "It's the first suite with application-to-spindle, end-to-end visibility through every tier of storage," he said. It include built-in compliance audits, discovery and reporting, and visualizations to see how data flows. The core technology came from Creekpath, which the company acquired about a year ago.

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Adding storage automation to the suite will reduce the configuration errors that come with more manual approaches. However, the storage automation solution doesn't handle provisioning yet. Perhaps HP will supply that piece of the puzzle.

System 7 offers full IT lifecycle process automation, including network operations across the datacenter without extensive scripting. Also new in System 7 is automated software image management for customers with Cisco devices (Opsware's has a strategic relationship with Cisco). The Network Automation System analyzes a Cisco device, queries Cisco's website and recommends an appropriate software image.

New compliance facilities proactively detect problems, based on the application of real-time policies that validate network status and connected devices at run-time. "We run a check across every layer of infrastructure, and provide a more realistic view of compliance across the network, servers and storage and tie it back to specific business applications. Opsware's Network Automaton System 7 also supports IPv6 and SNMPv3.

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"With process-powered change automation, every component is integrated with process automation.We can take complex change operations spanning multiple groups and tie them together in unified, repeatable and auditable process," Rosenthal said.

He gave an example of running a large scale Web application, with seasonally affected traffic like Drugstore.com. "As kids are going back to school, you have to scale up to handle more traffic," Rosenthal said. "The process can be cumbersome and complex, to get the servers, add the applications, enter into the load rotation, set up monitoring probes on the server. You can do each one in the Suite and with process automation add the ability to string changes together in single automated workflow and coordinated changes. Other people including HP and Remedy can route change tickets, but they don’t allow you to drive the actual configuration change through well defined process automation across the network, server and storage, and eventually the desktop."

I asked Rosenthal about being part of HP and how it fits with HP's Mercury acquisition. "If you look at Mercury's Business Availability Center, we bring to bear the same notion around monitoring business services and applications. There is a clear integration point and marriage between two, a single dashboard to tell you about health and performance. If performance degradation occurs, you can leap in and troubleshoot and repair with both. In the short term, we can have a common view of business services and applications and make sure we treat them same and consistently."

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