At the LinuxWorld conference & Expo this week, Opsware Inc. will debut its new Opsware Global Shell, a product designed to address the automated functionality missing from GUI-based server management tools.
The new shell uses a virtual file system and the Opsware Server Automation Systems data model, allowing users to create scripts to execute tasks concurrently across hundreds or thousands of Linux-, Unix- and Windows-based servers.
It is one of the first cross-platform shells, according to Opsware Chief Technology Officer Tim Howes. "The shell-based administrative systems of 10 years ago arent that much different today. They dont meet the needs of a distributed [applications] architecture, but they still are the most-used tools in the data center," said Howes in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The Opsware data model lets administrators organize their servers into logical groups, which can streamline troubleshooting and improve the accuracy of changes executed across multiple machines. Users can execute commands on servers grouped according to their location, application or profile.
Because the shell provides users with access to all file systems on servers under management, it allows administrators to continue to use the shells and library of scripts with which they are already working. Those shell environments include bash, tcsh and zsh. The data model also supports popular scripting languages such as Perl, Python and Ruby.
For server administrators resistant to moving to deeper levels of automation, that support "could be a path of least resistance to adopt an automated model," said Darrell Thomas, chief technologist at Electronic Data Systems Corp.s hosting operation in Plano, Texas.
"I think its a fast-track tool to automation, useful for administrators with knowledge in the shell environment. And its a unification tool for cross-platform management of Windows to Linux to Unix. You start to be able to use the Opsware data model like you would the Unix file system to enact shell scripting on top of it," said Thomas, whose team has already worked with Opsware Global Shell. "Its like shifting from procedural to object-oriented programming. Instead of enacting on one thing, you are doing multiple things at one point in time."
EDS bought the managed services business of Opswares originator, Loudcloud Inc., in 2002 and now uses Opswares data center automation tools.
Administrators looking to change configurations across a server farm using Opsware Global Shell can execute the change from within a single window. The time required to make global changes can be reduced from hours to minutes, Opswares Howes said.
Howes said Opsware Global Shell complements Microsoft Corp.s forthcoming "Monad" shell technology, which is designed for advanced Windows management.
Opsware Global Shell is available now as a part of the current release of the Opsware Server Automation System.