While its rivals in the data centre automation space are growing through acquisition, CA Inc. is trying to stay ahead of HP, BMC and others by integrating the product features of Toronto-based Opalis Software Inc.

The two companies have formed an OEM agreement that will see CA offer technology from Opalis that will allow enterprises to design, build and orchestrate workflows around various IT processes. This could include areas like the time and effort involved to deploying a new server or respond to application failures.

CA already offers integration with Opalis around its Spectrum software for managing Layer 2 and Layer 3 networks as well as its service desk product, said Jim Anderson, CA’s director of product management in Islandia, N.Y. The plan is to build out additional integration across CA’s entire data centre automation product line.

The data centre automation space heated up last year when HP acquired Opsware followed by a deal last month by BMC to buy BladeLogic. Anderson, however, said industry consolidation is beside the point.

“I can’t say that we’ve seen a lot of competitive pressure because of other vendors,” he said. “What we have seen is the demand in our own customer base for a higher level of automation . . . Customers are starting to mature in their data centre management approaches and are realizing that it’s not only about the integration you can do in the back end at the data level, but the integration you can provide at the process level.”

Opalis chief operating officer George Keller said the deal means greater access and reach to CA’s customer base.

“We address the complexity that’s in the data centre and IT operational environment. That’s where the complexity resides,” he said. “In terms of mixed hetero environments, we see people dealing with various management tools, issues with sizing and scale and the demands of on-time service delivery to meet service needs. The solution certainly isn’t to add more complexity.”

Evelyn Hubbert, a Forrester Research analyst who recently published a report on data centre automation, said companies like Opalis often act as a good bridge between monitoring tools and IT service management tools, completing a service ticket with information, for example.

“Usually those kinds of OEM agreements, in my experience having been part of a large vendor – those potentially lead to acquisition,” said Hubbert, who previously worked for HP. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Opalis eventually become part of the CA team.”

Will Bauman, senior vice-president of workload management at CA, said the industry is only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be automated.

“The roots of this were in the run-book world – it was very operations, very IT-centric,” he said. “As a result of the technology evolution, we see things start with the data centre and spread out into the rest of the organization to automate more of the business process, the applications and functions that deliver the end service to the business.”

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