Microsoft adds datacenter automation to System Center

The purchase of Opalis gives Microsoft run book automation technology for their virtualization platform

Microsoft has acquired Opalis Software, and with it Microsoft will bring to their virtualization platform and datacenter management expertise a greater run-book automation capability.

The company did not disclose any financial details of the transaction, but said that it would help augment its System Center line of management software.  An analyst from the 451 Group reported back in October that the rumored acquisition was in the neighborhood of $60 million -- not a bad neighborhood to be in.  Opalis raised $25 million in venture backed funding; and according to the same analyst post, the company was said to be earning about $10 million in revenue.

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Datacenter orchestration is one of the most important areas where virtualization will grow and expand in the coming years as the virtualization platforms and technology matures.  The need for such a tool will become more evident as virtualization implementations continue to scale out and increase in complexity.

Opalis technology can help these growing virtualized, dynamic datacenters with the following:

  • Run book -- Automate maintenance and administrative tasks that are repeated over and over again, and help extend management best practices.
  • Provisioning -- An orchestration tool can help automate the configuration, deployment, and provisioning of server, storage, or network resources across the physical, virtual, or cloud environment.
  • Virtual service management -- Automate virtual lifecycle management to control sprawl.
  • Deep integration -- Orchestrate tasks across server infrastructure and systems management products to help with the physical, virtual, and cloud.

Other virtualization platform providers have already invested time and money into this market.  VMware acquired technology through its acquisition of Dunes Technology back in September 2007.  VMware has gone through a rebranding and technology integration effort, and the result is VMware's Orchestrator product found within its vSphere 4.0 virtualization platform offering.  Citrix also understands the future need for such technology; the company has been working on its own orchestration framework called Citrix Workflow Studio.  A 2.0 version was just released this September.

Microsoft vice president Brad Anderson said, "This deal brings together the deep datacenter automation expertise of Opalis with the integrated physical and virtualized datacenter management capabilities of Microsoft System Center."  And he added, "I believe Opalis' software together with the System Center suite will improve the efficiency of IT staff and operations, and customers will gain greater process consistency."

In a recent blog post, Opalis president and CEO Todd DeLaughter said that combining Opalis software with Microsoft System Center would allow IT process automation to become mainstream throughout all levels of IT shops, both large and small.  And by combining automation tools like Opalis and System Center with virtualization software like Hyper-V, cloud computing can be brought to the masses.

"Microsoft has always impressed me with their next-generation view of how systems management tools should cleanly integrate to provide an easier user experience without the baggage of complexity that all of the existing legacy systems management tools carry," DeLaughter said.  "Combined with Opalis, System Center will be able to interoperate with all of those legacy tools so customers can take a 'land and migrate' approach with Microsoft versus a 'rip and replace' approach as they build out their next-generation virtualized datacenters."

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