Opsware plus iConclude: Automate the automation

In a phone call yesterday afternoon, Opsware CTO Tim Howes offered three reasonable reasons for Opsware's acquisition of IT process automation vendor iConclude, which the company announced earlier that morning.

First, customers often want to draw additional value out of Opsware's provisioning and configuration management solutions by integrating them with ticketing, monitoring, and other IT management solutions, and iConclude helps glue all of these things together.

Second, on top of the glue, iConclude allows customers to automate high level process flows; for example, a change management process might open a trouble ticket, instruct the monitoring system to cease monitoring, instruct the load balancer to take the target servers out of the queue, prompt the patch manager to apply the patch, and then reverse through all of these steps and close the ticket.

Third, for organizations adopting the ITIL process methodology, iConclude completes the three-part story for Opsware, adding general process automation to the existing change management and CMDB offerings.

Opsware and iConclude have been partnering for some time, and they share many customers in common. Many of those customers are large shops, but Howes said that process automation is not strictly a big man's game. "You don't have to get that big before you realize you have a problem that automation can solve," he noted.

Andi Mann, senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, believes the acquisition gives Opsware a level of orchestration or process automation that clearly exceeds direct competitors such as Opsware, and may even eclipse the process automation capabilities of the "big four," namely BMC, CA, HP, and IBM.

"The acquisition certainly brings Opsware up into the realm of say Symantec or even to an extent IBM Tivoli, in terms of being able to compete at that level of the market," Mann said.