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12/11/2009
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Microsoft Acquires Data Center Automation Firm

The purchase of Opalis will allow Microsoft to bring automated data center best practices to expand System Center's capabilities.

Microsoft has acquired Opalis Software and will use its data center automation expertise to bring greater run-book automation to Microsoft's core data center management system, System Center. No price was announced in the deal.

Establishing a run book is considered a best practice that documents, often in a three-ring binder, the steps needed to accomplish a multistep workflow to launch a new resource or maintain existing resources in the data center. It's designed to reduce human errors, the most common cause of data center outages. Run-book automation lets an automated system execute the steps instead of IT staffers.

Opalis produces Integration Server, a centralized management tool that integrates information from monitoring systems and provides a rules engine-based workflow to automate IT procedures. Opalis produces specific Integration Packs to connect Integration Server to leading monitoring and management systems, including HP OpenView Operations, IBM Tivoli, BMC Patrol, CA AutoSys and eHealth, NetIQ AppManager, and VMware Infrastructure 3.

"Data centers continue to get more complex. There's a huge focus on optimizing the data center... on reducing errors, on reducing mistakes," noted Brad Anderson, corporate VP of the management and services division, part of Microsoft's servers and tools business. "Opalis lets us move up the stack and help manage IT processes in the data center," he said in an interview. Anderson reports to Bob Muglia, president of servers and tools.

Anderson said that there is no equivalent existing product in Microsoft's portfolio to the lineup that Opalis brings to the company. Early in 2010, Microsoft will announce how Opalis products will fit in with System Center, the suite of management products that include System Center Configuration Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager. Toronto-based Opalis will be managed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. Opalis additions are expected in the first half of 2010, he said.

Anderson said Microsoft had noticed Opalis products in use at key customer sites over the last two years and had engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the company. Opalis customers include Dow Chemical, Xerox, Kawasaki, and Chico's.

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