Opalis Helps Automate And Manage IT Processes

The systems-management appliance lets IT departments automate processes without writing code or scripts.

October 17, 2005

3 Min Read
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Despite efforts to centralize and standardize, most IT departments continue to use a mix of computer systems from a variety of vendors. One challenge is to find a simple way to manage those diverse systems and to automate many of the business processes that run across the systems.

Opalis Software, a systems- and process-management vendor, on Monday brought out a software-hardware appliance that's designed to let IT managers easily automate many of the manual processes used by many IT departments to manage data center systems. The Opalis Integration Server 5.0 works with many existing systems-management products and frameworks, and is designed to free up IT staff from the drudgery of routine maintenance and operations tasks so they can focus on important jobs.

The software uses a point-and-click, drag-and-drop approach to creating automated processes that help move data around the network across multiple layers of hardware and software. The automated processes are meant to help resolve IT problems and systems outages quickly, without human involvement. The Opalis interface lets IT managers automate an entire process, or choose steps within the process for automation. Opalis also claims that the new version will let administrators capture and automate processes without requiring that the processes be reengineered. Starting prices range from $50,000 to $100,000.

Opalis says its software will work with third-party management products, including those from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and Symantec/Veritas. Company executives say one big selling point is that customers can use the software to develop automated processes without writing additional code.

That's not the way Larry Dusanic uses the software. As senior operations manager at Employers Insurance Group, which focuses on workers compensation issues, Dusanic oversees around 200 servers running Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Sun Solaris, among others. He has used Opalis Integration Server to automate many parts of his operation, but his staff still writes long and detailed scripts that eventually run through Opalis.EIG needs systems that can easily handle different insurance rules and regulations in each of the 50 states, and for different organizations within each state. Dusanic says he has deployed about 50 different automated processes that help link IT to business operations. He and his IT team use Opalis to parse and read files, create jobs, and export them out to production.

One big plus: Opalis will send an error message to Dusanic via E-mail and he can send orders to the Opalis appliance the same way. “I use my Blackberry to send an E-mail to this box, and I reboot a server,” he says. “Before, we had many people using many different products. Now we string the events together and have a window into our environment."

Opalis Integration Server “does a good job with process management, where people are opening up trouble tickets,” says Andi Mann, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. “It also automates and documents compliance as opposed to administrators running around doing what they think is right.”

But Opalis' no-coding approach, which does simplify things, may cost some customers. “Scripting is more powerful than a [graphical user interface] and offers a lot of flexibility and functionality,” says Mann.

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