Opsware Inc.s latest data center suite is not only an effective tool for automating server tasks at geographically dispersed organizations, but it will also allow companies to prevent system changes from becoming system problems.
Opsware System 4.0
Opswares latest automation system provides large sites with a comprehensive server and application life-cycle management system for maintaining day-to-day operations seamlessly in the background. It also provides a unique staging environment that validates system changes before they are deployed into production. Opsware System is expensive, however, with server licensing starting at $900 per system; managed and multisite licensing starts at $175,000. Adding DCI capabilities will jack up the price per Opsware core even higher.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
Opsware System provides a central point for automating the many different operations required to manage heterogeneous enterprise IT environments. Using Opsware System, administrators can perform tasks such as operating system and application provisioning, asset/inventory tracking, system-level patching, code deployment, application rollback and server script deployment.
However, Opsware System goes beyond just automating these processes to also providing a staging process for changes. To do this, Opsware System builds a centralized model of an organizations environment based on information compiled from standard best practices and specific company policies. With this active operational knowledge, Opsware System can validate changes made to the environment before they propagate to production.
Opswares approach will be especially useful for government and financial institutions that are required to keep track of and report changes and modifications to production systems. Once properly configured, Opsware can offer these and other enterprises a seamless and transparent system that validates patches, development codes and configuration changes before committing them online. If unauthorized or out-of-order changes are made to monitored parameters, Opsware can quickly provide a seamless rollback by backing up and restoring the system to its original state.
Opsware System 4.0, due next month, will also include new Opsware DCI (Data Center Intelligence) capabilities. DCI is a centralized data resource that lets users query for up-to-date information on their data center environment. During tests, we used DCI to quickly determine whether systems were missing critical patches and to see what applications and operating systems were installed.
Opsware System is targeted at large enterprises, which is reflected in its price: Licensing starts at $900 per managed Windows or Linux server and $1,200 per managed Unix server.
Large organizations with multiple data centers can install an Opsware server (or core) at each site; Opsware provides a Multimaster module that allows dynamic replication and data synchronization among cores at different locations. The Multimaster module can also be used to quickly roll out a mirroring Opsware core. The Multimaster module starts at $175,000 per data center.
Pricing for the new DCI capabilities has not been announced, but company officials said it would be upward of $80,000 per Opsware core.
The Opsware System core we tested could be installed only on a Solaris-based system, although Linux support is slated to be available when Version 4.0 is released. Opsware System can manage a wide range of operating systems, including Windows NT and 2000, Linux, and Unix (Solaris, HP-UX and AIX), as well as the major Web server, application server, database and e-commerce application platforms.
Opsware doesnt provide server and system monitoring capabilities. Opsware System does provide agents for use with IBMs Tivoli, but we would also like to see support for other system management tools, including Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView and BMC Software Inc.s Patrol.
Opsware System was originally developed by managed service provider Loudcloud Inc.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.