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Microsoft ups the ante on System Center for cloud

By acquiring Opalis Software, Microsoft will have a better shot at selling System Center to cloud and hosting service providers that demand IT process automation.

Microsoft's acquisition Friday of Opalis Software, an IT process automation provider suggests its urgent interest in making System Center the top contender in the cloud computing space, partners and analysts said.

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Opalis' software will be sold with future Microsoft System Center products, but licensing and pricing data has not been released.

Shannon Snowden, a consulting partner with the Louisville, Ky.-based Microsoft partner company New Age Technologies Inc., said this acquisition shows how much emphasis Microsoft is putting on virtualization and cloud computing initiatives.

"Opalis focuses on workflow orchestration and automation, which are two of the core primary enabling mechanisms for cloud computing and large virtualization deployments," Snowden said. "Microsoft is clearly feeling the need to have these features sooner rather than later."

Don Retallack, a systems management analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based researcher, said Opalis gives Microsoft a better shot at selling Systems Center to cloud and hosting service providers.

Opalis software will complement the long-awaited Service Manager, due next year, and will help System Center integrate with more third-party products, Retallack added.

"It looks like Opalis' software will go well with the upcoming Service Manager product, which they have had some problems with," he said. "[Opalis software] would duplicate some of the functions they are trying to create there, such as tying systems together and automating processes that occur in the data center today."

Alan "Skip" Gould, a Microsoft Gold Partner and CEO of Buffalo, N.Y.-based IT consultancy BrightPlanIT Inc. said Opalis Software will lend more credibility to the Microsoft System Center software stack.

"System Center has the core capabilities with Virtual Machine Manager to automate the virtual space pretty well, but I can see where Opalis could offer some additional components to automate processes more seamlessly," Gould said. "There are holes in areas like power consumption management or ancillary software where Opalis' stuff would be a good addition."

Opalis already integrates with System Center as well as with products from CA, BMC and Hewlett-Packard.

Opalis' latest product, Opalis Integration Server 5.3, includes ITIL-based, automated process templates and dashboard views into metrics such as success/failure status, duration, load distribution, and ROI on automated IT tasks.

Opalis will continue to support existing customers, and support agreements are valid until they expire. Customers with active Opalis Integration Server and Device Licenses will be eligible to receive a grant of System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD) licenses to cover the servers they are managing using Opalis software. This grant will be available in January of 2010, according to Microsoft's website.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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