The advent of XML and the effort to reduce the cost of IT operations have unleashed a series of startups focused on configuration management.
This week at the Demo conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., the latest startup to join the fray—mValent Inc.—will launch its suite of tools aimed at streamlining the task of preparing Java application infrastructure for application rollouts.
Today, that task in large IT shops is manual and labor-intensive and executed by specialized administrators in different departments. Throw in different configurations used in development and QA (quality assurance) testing, along with some offshore development, and the process can slow to a crawl.
"Today, we have configuration chaos," said Swapnil Shah, CEO of mValent, in Tewksbury, Mass. "There are different specialists, different configurations, a lot of manual processes around changes and a tight window for getting changes out. It can take nine months to get an application from [QA testing] through staging and into production."
mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite captures configuration data for applications and uses XML to model it. The suite layers those models on top of "rich-client interfaces that allow IT to manage change and configuration information in a collaborative way," said Shah.
The foundation of the suite is a series of infrastructure enablers specific to components such as Web application servers, Web servers, databases and operating systems. Both the infrastructure enablers and a metadata repository are exploited by a series of modules that automate tasks, including configuration capture, environment design and change management, as well as task aggregation, process capture, and execution and optimization.
One user said mValent tools provide insight into different environments between QA testing, development and production, eliminating surprises during frequent application changes.
"Its more a matter of greatly diminishing, if not eliminating, surprises on production deployment," said Joe Bai, CIO at online gamer WorldWinner Inc., in Newton, Mass. "In the past, we had a number of releases that just didnt go—we had to back them out. Now we dont see that anymore because we know whats in each environment," Bai said.
The suite vies with similar offerings from Opsware Inc., BladeLogic Inc. and others, although mValents approach is more administrator-centric, analysts said. mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite Version 2.0 is available now and starts at $50,000 for five users.