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Opsware Ups Management Ante

Data center software vendor Opsware Inc. is casting its net beyond its core server automation technology with the launch of a new network management product. And word has it the new software, which is said to be capable of handling 400 network devices from 18 different vendors, could prompt a flurry of M&A activity from rival vendors.

Opsware has long been regarded as a trailblazer in the server automation space. Its Network Automation System was among the first products to enable IT managers to tweak their data center kit to provide additional capacity without spending time and money reconfiguring hosts individually.

Now Opsware's hooking on to a trend toward adding routers, firewalls, and switches to the mix (see Opsware Intros NAS 4.0). The new verison of Opsware's flagship is built on the TrueControl technology Opsware acquired when it bought network management specialist Rendition Networks back in December, in a deal described as a major step forward for Opsware (see Opsware Opens Its Wallet and Opsware to Buy Rendition). TrueControl tracks and regulates changes across routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers.

According to Opsware execs, vendors covered by the new software include Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR) and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), as well as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV).

Rival data center management vendors IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA) can't claim a direct analogue to Opsware's new software. But with all fighting to win more market share, Glenn ODonnell, program director at Meta Group Inc., believes Opsware's announcement could prompt further releases.

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