Opsware Jumps on Compliance Bandwagon

Opsware System 6 includes a new release of its flagship Opsware Server Automation that includes a new compliance dashboard.

Opsware on June 12 set its sights squarely on the auditing and compliance requirements of its users when it introduced a major upgrade and new components of its data center automation software.

Opsware System 6 includes a new release of its flagship Opsware Server Automation that includes a new compliance dashboard; a brand new Opsware Visual Application Manager that shows how all infrastructure elements fit together for the applications they support; support in Opsware Network Automation System 6 for a new compliance model; and the new Opsware Network service for security compliance.

In the new server automation release, "we added more compliance reporting, created a single dashboard to see whats in compliance and whats not, and we created a framework for policies that allows you to capture, create and enforce policies across the IT environment," said Opsware CTO Tim Howes in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The compliance dashboard in the new server automation release shows whether an IT environment is in compliance with patch policies, application policies, whether there are any configuration mismatches and more.

"You see all that at a glance in the dashboard," Howes said.

The dashboard includes a new, groundbreaking ability to click on a remediation button to apply a fix from within the dashboard, rather than having to go to another tool to effect the change, according to Howes.

The dashboard also allows users to select individual servers to see details on each compliance function.

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Opsware users at Drugstore.com see the tool as a key component of its auditing and compliance reporting capability, according to Don Allen, senior director of IT operations in Bellevue, Wash.

"You want to separate [auditors] from the administrators, but they have to have full access to the systems. But how do you have a group outside operations that has same the access as operations has to systems? Thats where Opsware comes in.

"It lets them make sure all changes to production go through some kind of process, but it doesnt require them to be administrators on the system, and they can with confidence see all the changes to systems. People need to follow process, regardless of the level of access," he said.

Opsware Server Automation System 6 is fully integrated for the first time with Opswares acquired network configuration and change management software.

Opsware Network Automation 6, in addition to its new integration with Opsware server automation, adds a new network compliance model.

"It collects things that were separate—devices, policies, user roles, interdependencies—and can set policies that prevent changes from being made that would take things out of compliance," said Howes.

The integration is key for IT organizations looking to consolidate the number of point tools they use to manage IT infrastructure, said Stephen Elliot, analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

"The easiest way to reduce costs is to simplify process and reduce tool count. IT organizations across silos need to ask themselves whats the right tool for change management, and can we replicate the tool in other areas. I think thats where the integration will really start to provide a lot of value across groups," he said.

The new Opsware Visual Application Manager in Opsware System 6 provides a way to view all infrastructure elements together and see how they relate to each other.

"It discovers how all pieces of the infrastructure fit together in supporting the applications they provide and give different views on that, such as from the network perspective, server perspective, logical application perspective—how elements of applications are talking to one another.

That view is also fully integrated with the change automation of other Opsware systems, so that a user could right click and bring up a console to apply a patch or take other actions.

Finally, Opsware updated its Opsware Network subscription service for security compliance to work with the server automation offering.

The service, which previously only covered network devices, gathers security alerts from a range of different sources, such as Microsoft of the National Security Administration and converts those alerts into actionable policies. It is intended to streamline that process for users.

As Opsware looks to create a complete data center automation offering, it is looking to add further provisioning and change management functions for storage and database servers, Howes said. He would not provide a time frame for such support, however.

Opsware Server Automation System 6, Opsware Visual Application Manager and the updated Opsware Network service are available in July. Opsware Network Automation System 6 is available now.

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