Microsoft Acquires Opalis Software, Boosting Data Center Automation

Microsoft announced the acquisition of Opalis Software, whose products help automate and streamline workflow processes within the data center, on Dec. 11 for undisclosed terms. Opalis's software will be integrated into Microsoft System Center. Data center automation is of increasing importance to many customers within the enterprise attempting to manage an ever-increasing number of data centers. How the acquisition will affect Opalis dealings with companies such as are unknown.

Microsoft announced the acquisition of Opalis Software, which produces software for automating complex processes within data centers, on Dec. 11. The Opalis portfolio will be integrated into Microsoft System Center, theoretically driving down customers' costs and streamlining their workflows through automation.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Opalis products include prepackaged workflows for data center management-such as virtual machine lifecycle management and Run Book Automation-as well as an automation platform that allows for the creation and execution of workflows across data center management tools. Other capabilities offered by Opalis allow tasks to be orchestrated across not only the server infrastructure, but also a variety of systems management products produced by vendors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Symantec and Microsoft.

The Toronto-based company already had a fairly deep relationship with Microsoft. During April's Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas, Opalis announced a suite of new features for Microsoft System Center to help automate a variety of tasks, policies and best practices, including virtualization and power management.

"I believe this acquisition is a pivotal piece to deliver on our dynamic data center initiative," Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Management & Services Division, wrote in a Dec. 11 posting on The System Center Team Blog. "I believe Opalis' software together with the System Center suite will improve the efficiency of IT staff and operations, and customers will gain greater process consistency. Opalis' software captures the IT processes, in a documented and repeatable way, which can be run over and over again."

The importance of such automation, Anderson added, lies in its ability to help customers manage larger and more multitudinous data centers.

"These customers require a greater level of automation in their operations. This is especially important as our customers build out highly automated and scalable virtual environments," Anderson wrote. "Advanced workflow processes will be vital for optimization and to avoid virtual server sprawl."

Integrating Opalis technology more fully into Microsoft's offerings could potentially allow Redmond to compete more heartily with the likes of VMware within the virtualization and cloud-computing space. Opalis features centered around virtual lifecycle management and shifting resources between public and private cloud environments could come in useful within that context.
It remains to be seen how the Opalis acquisition would affect those cloud competitors, such as, that already leverage its products. For example, Opalis released a Cloud LCM (life-cycle management) offering in May designed to give IT administrators more granular control over resources present in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Opalis staff had worked with Amazon Web Services to build the application.