Automation vendor streamlines virtual-server management

Run-book automation provide Opalis compiles catalog of workflows and automated tasks specific to managing virtual environments.

Run-book automation software maker Opalis this week announced it would be packaging its automated IT processes into catalogs targeted at specific tasks IT shops are tackling, such as virtualization.

The company this week introduced the first of such targeted products, Opalis Process Catalog for Virtualization, and said the software offers customers a set of specific processes designed to address typical tasks in a virtualized environment. Prepackaging processes will help customers more quickly get up to speed managing virtual environments, without having to scroll through pages of processes or build their own, Opalis says.

"We are breaking the Opalis process library into catalogs aimed at solving very specific IT-management problems," says Opalis CTO Charles Crouchman. "We have worked with a lot of customers and automated the human factor of processes in virtual environments. Now we have taken that intellectual property and created a catalog to get others started with this type of automation more quickly."

The software can help IT managers pinpoint the root cause of errors on physical and virtual machines and automates diagnostic procedures and preapproved corrective actions. IT managers also can use Opalis to automatically commission and decommission virtual servers, the latter capabilities working to reduce virtual-server sprawl, Opalis says.

"The single largest issue in virtual environments is virtual-server sprawl. It is so easy to provision new servers, but the deprovisioning is left undone," Crouchman says.

Opalis Process Catalog for Virtualization also can automate server patching and audit remediation across online and offline virtual servers, helping to keep systems in compliance. The software also automates virtual server and file clean-up for expired images and backup and recovery procedures, Opalis says.

Opalis built the processes in its software around the best practices of the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, Version 2 and Version 3. Customers can use Opalis to create tasks once, and the software can be configured to perform the tasks automatically based on predefined triggers.

Opalis software installs on a dedicated server and works with third-party management products to automate tasks, such as trouble-ticket closure and virtual machine creation. The software requires no agents be distributed and works with APIs provided by third-party software and systems.

The key to run-book automation from vendors such as Opalis, Optinuity, OpTier and RealOps (recently acquired by BMC) is integration with third-party systems and software, industry watchers say.

"The introduction of process automation solutions such as RealOps, Opalis, or iConclude provides significant progress by providing the ability to control and launch relevant operations represented by different point products, and passing relevant data between these products, thus resolving the interprocess communication problem," wrote Forrester Research senior analyst Evelyn Hubbert in a recent report.

Set to be generally available in the fourth quarter, Opalis Process Catalog for Virtualization will be demonstrated next week at VMware's VMWorld 2007 conference. Opalis says specific pricing information will be determined when the software is generally available.

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