It may not yet have cleared a profit, but Opsware Inc brags that it will displace systems management incumbents like BMC and CA when it comes to managing internet data centers.
Having just cleared its first $100m year, but not yet fully in the black, Opsware reviewed its market and product direction in presentations to Wall Street analysts yesterday.
Among the highlights was a demonstration of integration of the iConclude IT process automation tool. It was developed in the wake of a reseller agreement last fall that blossomed into a pending acquisition which was announced during the company’s Q4 earnings call in early March.
While Opsware’s tools manage change across servers, networks, and soon, storage, the iConclude piece automates the workflows necessary for approving those changes. And it orchestrates processes such as opening and closing trouble tickets that are handled outside Opsware.
Today, Opsware tends to work alongside monitoring consoles like HP OpenView or IBM Tivoli. But, when we caught up with company chairman Marc Andreesen, he stated flatly that Opsware was out to become the sole IT management supplier for new-generation data centers.
During his presentation, Andreesen laid out seven major trends that would ultimately fuel demand for Opsware’s server, network, and storage automation offerings. The first was consumer uptake of digital devices, from iPods to digital cameras and smart phones, which of course creates more demand on Internet data centers.
Some of the others included emergence of cheap, $3000 commodity servers, which has fueled a market of 8 million units annually, according to IDC. Andreesen also cited explosion of open source software, which is lowering the barriers for developers to create new software products; virtualization and multi-core processors, which provide opportunities to adopt grid-like efficiencies to running racked servers.
All of these create more need for Opsware, he said, adding that the savings from data center automation would in turn generate more demand.
Besides the deal with iConclude, over the past year Opsware acquired Creekpath, which offers the storage piece that has been missing from its management offerings. It also developed a visual mapper that provides role-based views of changes across the data center.
And last, but definitely not least, it inked a sweetheart OEM deal with Cisco for reselling its network automation tool. Although Cisco later frowned on the disclosure, Opsware did announce during the Q4 earnings call that Cisco had resold $5m worth of the network automation tool.
Of course, if you speak to any systems management vendor, ITIL tends to be the hot topic when it comes to product functionality. Most vendors are retrofitting CMDB (configuration management databases) to their offerings, and adjusting their functionality to reflect what ITIL describes. According to CTO Tim Howe, over half of Opsware’s customers are demanding ITIL support.
In a follow-up conversation with Howe, he indicated that the pending iConclude acquisition would add the missing link to Opsware’s ITIL product strategy. It completes the picture for making ITIL processes real, he said, noting that while Opsware’s change automation handles execution of change, and its recently-introduced CMDB houses the data, iConclude is the part that closes the loop on ITIL workflow.
Looking ahead, development will be focused on tightening integration with iConclude (which, for now is through APIs), and by Q3, introducing the storage automation product. He also noted that the next version of the network automation product would have IP v6 support and software image automation. And there should be another refresh of the server automation product later in the year.