Opsware automates network management

Opsware Inc. this month introduced software that could make it easier for companies to configure networks and servers across data centres.

The company, which changed its name from Loudcloud Inc. earlier this year, says its Multimaster Service Automation Module (SAM) can save companies a lot of time setting up new data centres and recovering downed ones. For example, it says the software can slash the time it takes to upgrade 60 servers’ operating systems from four weeks to just three days.

The software is an add-on to the company’s System 3 IT automation platform. It uses rules and policies running on that platform and its agents to collect information about server, network and application configurations. That information can be used to configure and upgrade systems in new or existing data centres.

“The Multimaster SAM is an absolute must for us in terms of maintaining our facilities across multiple geographical locations,” says Steve Lapekas, global services executive for Web hosting at Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS). “Opsware is automating IT tasks that normally take a lot of people power. It’s bringing in scale and standards to large data centres, which ups efficiency and quality.”

EDS bought Loudcloud’s managed services division in June for US$63.5 million and has since signed a deal with Opsware for US$52 million to license its software over the next three years.

While Opsware gained operational experience using its software through Loudcloud’s service offerings, the company will compete as an independent software vendor from companies such as CenterRun Inc. and Jareva Technologies Inc.

This is a software category that has a chance to fare well, even during a tight economy, says Bill Mattorelli, a vice-president at consulting firm Hurwitz Group Inc. Customers looking to consolidate data centres and Web sites might find IT automation software attractive, he says.

“Sales are slow for all software now, but this is the kind of software that can make a significant impact on operational expenses for large enterprises,” he says.

In addition to the Multimaster SAM, Opsware offers modules that handle infrastructure provisioning, application distribution, server security management along with auditing and tracking. The company offers 67 other modules that are product specific, such as for BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic application servers and Oracle Corp. databases.

System 3 costs US$250,000 to US$3 million, depending on the number of servers and data centres, and the number of modules being used.

Opsware is at www.opsware.com.

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