Next generation robot has an eye on security

It won’t do dishes or fetch sodas from the refrigerator, but an updated version of the OpalisRobot has made life easier for at least one of its users.

Opalis Software announced OpalisRobot 4.0, a task automation system for Windows NT/2000 environments, in December 2001. Newly integrated features of the software include e-mail and telephony server management, Web-based management, enhanced security and expanded reporting capabilities. The original OpalisRobot, the flagship product of Opalis Software, acted as a watchdog with the ability to monitor, manage and automate Windows NT/2000.

Cynthia Weeden, president of Opalis Software, said that any company that needs to save time and automate components of its operation should find the new version helpful.

“This software greatly reduces the time and cost of network administrators doing their jobs,” she said. “It’s excellent if you have administrators who have to control several floors or at remote locations. Every size company needs to automate things because there never seems to be enough humans around to run the network, so size doesn’t matter.”

One thing that does matter right now is the operating system. The 4.0 supports Windows NT, 2000 and XP, but Weeden said Solaris and Linux versions should be ready by summertime.

A “complete redesign” of the interface makes for a more enterprise-ready application, she said, and that means companies can control and automate all the computers that are roboticized.

“Security has been really tightened up and, with the reporting, we can give as much or as little information as the customer likes,” she said. “Another major enhancement is the Web-interface. You can now view, launch, get alerts on your jobs, and now you can do a lot of work on the Internet. You can also control the robot via e-mail or by telephone.”

The new GUI provides six windows that can be maximized, minimized or closed to create a custom work environment. Several new automation objects have also been added, including Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Event monitoring. The WMI Event feature enhances OpalisRobot’s ability to monitor capabilities by providing hooks into Microsoft’s WMI where it can watch for and react to tiny details servers. The WMI event can take a valid WMI notification query and use it as a monitoring initiative to automatically trigger an OpalisRobot job.

“We have added another new option, which is our satellites,” she said. “Before you had to put a robot server on every work station you want to control. With the satellite, you now have the ability to monitor remote computers on the network without actually installing the software.”

Brian Johnson, a manager at Northern Consulting, a provider of systems and operations consulting to the equipment leasing industry, said he likes the upgrade enough that he is pushing his clients to use it.

“I like the Web interface and the security has improved greatly because it’s down to the object level now instead of the program level,” he said from his Chicago office. “They have added a new query where you can query the Windows integration and I haven’t done anything with that yet, but I think it is going to help a lot of clients.”

He also likes that he can use a Web browser to access processes remotely. While he had no negative experiences with the upgrade so far, he did say that there were features he was having a tough time getting used to.

“It is going to be difficult to get used to the new layout to create processes,” he said. “The objects are grouped, which is great, but you get used to something and now I will have to go look for it.”

OpalisRobot now also includes e-mail and call add-ons which Weeden says provides interactive management capabilities that allow administrators to build interactive telephone and e-mail prompts to notify IT staff of job status or failed system components via telephone or e-mail.

OpalisRobot 4.0 is now US$795 per server. For more information on Opalis in Toronto, visit or call 1-888-672-5471.