Opsware Fills In Missing Automation Puzzle Piece

Opsware plunged into the nascent IT process automation market when it announced its deal to acquire startup iConclude for roughly $54 million.

Opsware on March 6 plunged into the nascent IT process automation market when it announced its deal to acquire startup iConclude for roughly $54 million.

The acquisition, expected to close in May, will bring to Opsware a new presence in the Network Operations Center thanks to iConcludes ability to automate tasks described in the NOCs run book.

Network engineers "spend all day looking at alerts and consulting their run book to determine what they should do with issues that come up. iConclude allows that to be automated so that people can [execute] those run books more accurately and with substantially less effort," said Opsware CTO Tim Howes in Sunnyvale, Calif.

To date, Opsware has provided automated provisioning and change management for servers, networks and storage as well as a configuration management database.

iConcludes OpsForce brings to the table the ability to automate IT processes end to end across different systems such as a trouble-ticketing system, monitoring system and change management system.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about existing Opsware automation technology.

Howes also believes that iConcludes technology can help hasten the lengthy and difficult process of implementing IT Infrastructure Library methodologies across an IT shop by filling in a missing piece of the ITIL puzzle.

"To do a good job implementing ITIL, you need to automate change, which we do today, and you need to be able to aggregate data together so you have a full, consistent view across all IT. We do that with the Opsware Operational Management Database.

"Whats been missing is that you have to automate the process of managing the flow between those systems. A typical interaction is that you open a ticket, then call the monitoring system to tell it not to monitor the infrastructure you are about to change, then call the network automation system to take a server out of rotation on a load balancer so that you can apply a patch, then put it back into the load balancer rotation, start monitoring and close out the ticket to say what was done," he said.

Opsforce is the glue that joins together customers existing ticketing, asset management, source control, monitoring and other operations software from different vendors.

Compared to its competitors such as Opalis and Real Ops, iConclude makes it much simpler and easier to implement workflows described in a run book and connect them to the different systems involved in the process, Howes says.

"You needed to be a programmer to do that before this. iConclude has a visual interface where you drag components around the screen and hook them up to one another. They made what used to be the province of programmers available to a lower-skilled, wider audience," said Howes, who characterized the iConclude user interface as "breakthrough" technology.

The acquisition builds on an existing reseller agreement between the two companies. It calls for Opsware to pay $30 million in cash and $3.39 million in Opsware stock for iConclude.

Opsware, which expects the deal to close in May, intends to move most all of iConcludes 35 employees from iConcludes headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., to its development facility in Redmond, Wash.

Opsware also on March 6 reported that it generated revenues of about $100 million for its fiscal 2007. The company expects to generate revenues of between $142 million and $147 million for fiscal 2008, which ends in January.

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