Opsware on July 11 put the final piece of the data center automation puzzle into place when it announced its intent to acquire storage management startup Creekpath Systems for $10 million in cash.
Opsware intends to move quickly to integrate Creekpaths storage management technology, once the acquisition closes in the August time frame, to bring to the market combined server, network and storage provisioning and change management.
Opsware will release in the first half of 2007 a new Opsware Application Storage Management System, based on the Creekpath technology and additional functionality it plans to add.
It will move beyond managing storage resources to focus on storage allocation by application and managing storage from the application change management perspective.
Opsware officials say they believe the acquisition, described as a technology acquisition, will give it a "huge" leg up on competitors.
"We believe this acquisition will give us a multiyear lead on storage automation. And it gives us a huge jump start on the most difficult task: integrating server, network and storage management together," said Ben Horowitz, CEO of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Opsware.
"Point players have no ready way of catching up. This level of integration is difficult to achieve, especially if its not designed from the outset," he added.
Although competitors such as Veritas provide management of storage elements in the data center, whats been missing is the connection of storage to the rest of the infrastructure, Horowitz said.
"If you want to provision a database cluster with the Veritas Volume Manager underneath, you cant do that without visibility into the storage area network. You have to control the server and storage environment. We think well be the first to deliver a product in that area," he said.
Opsware for $10 million essentially will acquire rich storage management technology and a team of some 10 engineers.
Although Creekpath Systems has a handful of customers using its Acuity product, including Lehman Bros., Opsware does not intend to continue to market it as a stand-alone product. It will continue to support those customers, however.
Unlike Opswares acquisition of Rendition Networks for its network device configuration management, the Creekpath acquisition does not represent a strong stand-alone market.
"The stand-alone storage [automation] market is not as big as network automation," said Horowitz.
Creekpath brings to the table "broad, multi-vendor support, a strong data model and a robust ability to add new technologies to it," said Horowitz.
Specifically it adds the ability to discover and map a customers full storage supply chain, including the database, file systems, volume managers, servers, switches, array controllers and disk drives. It can also scale to support large, heterogeneous storage networks.
In its integration work, Opsware intends to add to this full auditing, compliance and change impact analysis to enhance application management.
Opsware will complete the integration fairly quickly, due to the way the Creekpath product was architected.
"Were taking the heart of the storage technology—the ability to understand how data paths get you to information on the SAN—and were leaving out technology that duplicates what we have in the server world. The way it was architected makes that easy," said Horowitz.
Opsware estimates that the Creekpath storage management technology, developed over the last five years with about $70 million in venture capital funding, will save it three calendar years of development.
Opsware intends to close Creekpaths Boulder facility and relocate the engineers to its Redmond, Wash., facility.