With its robust and easy-to-use management framework, Veritas OpForce is a good choice for tackling data center server provisioning and automation tasks. The OpForce software suite is priced at $7,500 for x86 server systems and $500 per managed CPU. Pricing for non-Intel systems is more expensive: $15,000 per server and $750 per managed CPU.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
OpForce performs server provisioning on the fly for dynamic resource allocation and on-demand computing. Using OpForce, IT managers can track all server assets in their data center environments, manage active and reserve resources, and allocate hardware resources in response to application demands.
We tested OpForces discovery and provisioning capabilities using servers in bare-metal state (without an installed operating system). OpForce discovered, tracked and provisioned our systems without a hitch, and we found the centralized Web-based management interface very intuitive.
OpForce 3.0, which shipped last month, supports x86, Sun Microsystems Inc. SPARC and IBM AIX server systems. An OpForce server license costs $7,500 when installed on an x86-based system, with an additional price per managed system of $500 per CPU. On SPARC and AIX systems, OpForce costs $15,000 per server and $750 per CPU in managed systems.
eWEEK Labs installed OpForce on a Dell Inc. PowerEdge server running Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000 Advanced Server. The OpForce server, which can be easily managed from anywhere on the network via a Web browser, can also be installed on Linux- or Solaris-based systems. OpForce can manage servers running Windows, Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux, Suns Solaris and IBMs AIX operating systems.
To improve performance, we recommend that IT managers use at least a dual-processor system with 1GB of memory. There should also be plenty of storage on the server, or network storage should be available to accommodate software images and server snapshots.
OpForce requires a local database to track its operations. OpForce itself uses the PostgreSQL database (provided with the software), which functions behind the scenes. However, in tests, configuration changes sometimes caused a delay in synchronization between the running OpForce service and PostgreSQL. Veritas has released a patch to fix this dependency issue.
OpForce uses the Tomcat Web server to service the management Web pages. Because Tomcat uses standard ports for HTTP communications, IT managers should make sure that no other Web services are running on the OpForce server.
Server assets are detected by the OpForce server using network boot protocols.
After assets are discovered, OpForce loads a "memory resident" operating system called ActiveOS to the managed system using the appropriate protocols and version for that system. ActiveOS is based on Linux for x86 systems, a trimmed-down Solaris 2.8 for SPARC servers and a lightweight AIX 4.3 for AIX servers.
ActiveOS provides the link between the managed servers and allows OpForce to perform hardware attribute and operating system detection, as well as snapshot deployment and capture.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be contacted at email@example.com.