Getting Handle on Data Center

BladeLogic, Opsware, Sun ready software.

Enterprises looking to ease the management of their data centers will get help over the next couple of months from Opsware Inc., BladeLogic Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Opsware and BladeLogic next month will each release offerings that will give businesses greater control over their data center resources. Separately, Sun later this fiscal quarter will close on a deal to buy startup CenterRun Inc. in hopes of adding greater provisioning capabilities to its growing N1 data center virtualization initiative.

Opsware is readying DCI (Data Center Intelligence), an add-on module that will launch when the Sunnyvale, Calif., company rolls out Version 4.0 of its namesake data center automation software next month. DCI will give users a portallike view into data gathered through the Opsware software—from operating system and software provisioning to patching, code deployment and configuration, according to Chief Technology Officer Tim Howes. Users can crunch those numbers to see how their IT dollars are used and how to best use them.

"To a lot of [executives], most of their infrastructure today is really a very black box," Howes said. "They know what theyve spent, but they dont know what theyre getting for their money. [DCI] gives you a view not of what you bought, but how what you bought is being used, and thats how a lot of IT decisions are being made."

Inflow Inc., an IT outsourcer in Thornton, Colo., is a recent customer of Opsware and is looking forward to DCI. "It will let us more accurately quantify for our customers their ROI [return-on- investment] and TCO [total-cost-of-ownership] models and where theyre spending their money," said Lenny Monsour, general manager for application hosting and management at Inflow. "Every customer we talk to today has ROI and TCO questions, and they are asking those questions because they cant get their hands around what theyre spending their money for."

Meanwhile, BladeLogic will offer greater provisioning capabilities with the next release of its Operations Manager software next month. According to a spokesman for the Warren, N.J., company, the new version will offer cross-platform provisioning, enabling users to provision bare-metal servers running Linux, Unix or Windows NT operating systems. In addition, they will be able to provision the entire server stack, from the BIOS and operating systems to the middleware and application layers.

Provisioning was the key to Suns decision to buy CenterRun, of Redwood City, Calif. Officials at Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., late last month said that they had signed a definitive agreement to buy CenterRun and that the deal is expected to close by the end of the current fiscal quarter, next month. CenterRuns One-Touch Provisioning System software lets companies install software on their data center resources. The company was also a partner in Suns iForce program.

Suns N1 initiative is aimed at automating the workings in a data center, enabling businesses to see all the resources as a single system and to manage them accordingly.