Getting automated with OpalisRobot 4.0

Toronto-based Opalis Software Inc. recently unveiled OpalisRobot version 4.0, the latest edition of its task automation solution. According to Opalis, the newest version is a significant revamp of versions past as the product now features a redesigned, customizable GUI that can be maximized to create a custom work environment along with a Web-based client for managing infrastructures from remote locations.

With other enhancements such as e-mail and telephony server management, Web-based management, enhanced security and expanded reporting capabilities, Opalis said the software will allow network managers to build customized telephony and e-mail prompts to notify IT staff of job status and send instructions from outside the office. Detailed reports (generated as an HTML, CSV, or TXT file) can then be e-mailed to the administrator, the company said.

A lot of the changes were made to allow easier deployment in large environments, said Opalis product marketing director Louise Johns, who added that OpalisRobot 4.0’s remote-monitored capabilities means the programs don’t need to be installed locally. Johns noted the tool features over 30 new automation features that allow IT professionals to automate both their business processes as well as making sure the resources those businesses process require are up and healthy.

“The first and most obvious (change) is the client interface. It’s been completely defined. It now has six closeable windows so you can customize the work space depending on if you’re curating jobs or if you’re monitoring them,” Johns said.

In addition, Johns noted the integrated reporting feature and job-scheduling engine allows administrators to quickly report the status of any OpalisRobot job.

The tool has been totally revamped for the better, said Tony Hrdlicka, integration manager for the e-commerce group at Integic Corp., a Chantilly, Va.-based business integration solution provider. Hrdlicka promoted and implemented the solution at Xerox Corp. (running on 75 to 100 servers) and noted the tool has allowed the company to be more proactive in identifying potential problems in the system.

One feature that stands out is the ability to create tasks and then deploy to multiple servers in real-time, Hrdlicka said. “One of the things that we were hoping for with 4.0 was a more enterprise-based application which this is proving to be. In the past with version 3.0, when we changed one server we had to manually go out and deploy all these changes to all the others,” Hrdlicka said. “We do a lot of database queries to check the status of different items in our workflow for the customers during the day. (V4.0’s) interface is considerably different, and some of the functionalities and additional paths they’ve added have been very beneficial,” Tony said.

Tools such as this are becoming more important than ever in these dark days of shrinking IT budgets and staff, noted Patrick Dryden, networking analyst at META Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. Dryden contended that network managers will appreciate 4.0’s new flexibility features – remote access via the Web, the ability to create diverse users, and generate reports and handle interaction easier.

“Opalis has made significant changes under the hood that open up the tool (XML repository, many new integration points, modularity). These should broaden the Robot’s appeal among sys admins, service providers and developers,” Dryden said.

“All of the products’ capabilities can be found in point products and suites from diverse management software vendors…(but) Robot is a nice neat package of automation enablers for Windows managers.”

OpalisRobot 4.0 is available now. Pricing for the product is US$795 per server. The company can be found at