Opalis acquisition adds more automation to the System Center family

Microsoft is boosting its System Center family of products by acquiring a Canadian IT automation company called Opalis Software. What does this mean?

Opalis does IT automation. Taking a look at the material on the Opalis site, the key components seem to be:

  • A workflow platform that enables easier automation of IT tasks (responding to problem tickets, automating VM deployment etc.)
  • A set of integration tools, allowing smoother co-operation between system management products of different vendors
  • Loads of ready-made, packaged workflows for handling many common scenarios out-of-the-box

That much was said directly. Next up, some speculation:

  • The long-overdue System Center Service Manager product is probably getting a load of new stuff from here, but not in its first release (due H1/2010). The interesting part is that the SCSM features already claim “A workflow engine for automating all or portions of IT processes and for integrating System Center solutions” – something pretty heavily duplicated in the Opalis solution.
  • The new technology from Opalis might get rolled into SCSM v2 (hypothetical, since nothing has been announced yet), but unless the workflow engines happened to be compatible, it might not be an easy ride. At any rate, the automation and integration story might be a strong candidate for the lead feature for the next version of SCSM.
  • The oncoming additions of v2 may cause organizations to delay Service Manager installations in fear of breaking changes later on. Such a reaction wouldn’t be surprising, given the generally slow maturation rate of System Center products and Microsoft’s recent adventures in rewriting the Windows Workflow Foundation just two versions after its original launch.
  • More and more automation will appear within other System Center products, particularly Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager.
  • Given that Microsoft has pledged to extend the on-premises manageability to the Cloud, I would expect the Opalis’s heavy use of the C word to play a part in the acquisition. When and how will such features be released within System Center remains a mystery.

All in all, this acquisition seems to play well into Microsoft’s System Center strategy. The fact that SCVMM can now manage VMware environments as well as Hyper-V ones signals a change into the direction of openness. Microsoft has an interest to push their system management products themselves, instead of only using the management tools as a leverage to push more Windows Servers in. The Opalis portfolio would seem to give them a nice running start in many common integration scenarios.

Read more in the announcement on the System Center team blog and the acquisition FAQ.

December 11, 2009 · Jouni Heikniemi · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Windows IT

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