Consera automates Windows migration

Hoping to benefit from migrations from older Windows servers to Windows Server 2003 over the next year or two, Consera Software Corp. unwrapped on Monday a systems management tool intended to make that process more automated.

Called AgileOne, the tool has a proprietary Intelligent Automation System that serves to automate workflows as well as help weave in best practices. The offering also can adapt infrastructure management operations to a given production environment, according to company officials.

"We certainly expect to see a lot of action in migrating (Windows) NT 4.0 users to Windows Server 2003, but the other thing we see happening in the larger enterprises is the amount of consolidation where they are deploying and redeploying thousands of servers every day. This allows them to do it in an automated and repeatable way. We think that will be a big market for us," said Pamela Roussos, vice president of marketing at Consera, based in Bellevue, Wash.

Describing how the tool works, Roussos said AgileOne identifies the hardware configuration of a server, the other servers it is working with, and the services that are available on all servers in that environment. Through the product's graphical interface, administrators can then select whatever "image" or customized software they want to distribute to either bare metal servers or ones with existing configurations, she said.

"We think this will be good for administrators who are automating some of the common workflows and even file sharing services around on the server infrastructure," Roussos said.

Explaining how the Intelligent Automation System functions, company officials said the technology is able to separate software services and configuration information from hardware dependencies, thereby eliminating the more repetitive IT functions. It is also capable of eliminating human error and providing a path for adjusting the environment to meet changing business conditions.

The system can envelop a service and the configuration information that is relative to that service, including the type of object to be managed. It is designed to work for a number of different services such as file sharing Internet Information Services (IIS), and SQL. The Intelligent Automation engine can also combine workflows, and then discover and map servers and services in the installed environment, company officials explained.

Other core features include server life cycle management, which supports discovery, deployment, and consolidation of redeployed file servers; file sharing service management, which allows corporate users to move file shares with confirmation information related to them, such as permissions; and a number of administrative functions, including share and directory conflict management, to occur automatically with operator-assisted resolution for a range of different operations.

AgileOne is based on an "agentless" architecture allowing for the more flexible customization of operations. It was built using the .Net framework, making it easier to integrate with Microsoft's ADS.

Scheduled for availability sometime during this year's third quarter, AgileOne costs US$659 per managed server, which includes a year of maintenance and support. The product requires a Windows Server 2003 compatible system with 100GB of disk space and 512MB of memory, along with Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server.

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