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Opsware Unveils Network-Automation Suite

New system lets network managers control and automate network-device configuration and ensure compliance.

Opsware Inc., which provides server and data-center automation software, this week introduces a network-automation suite that lets network managers control and automate network-device configuration and ensure compliance.

Based on technology Opsware acquired last year when it bought Rendition Networks, the Opsware Network Automation System automates the management of more than 350 network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers from more than 15 vendors. It includes workflow-automation software to let network managers design, automate, and enforce changes to the network; a compliance center to enforce and document that a company is complying with a variety of regulatory and security rules; and an access-control list manager to automate and standardize network security management. Pricing starts at $20,000 for 50 network nodes.

"Opsware is a little ahead of the market in that they're moving to an integrated configuration and control system that includes the system [server] side and the network side," says Dennis Drogseth, a VP at industry research firm Enterprise Management Associates. "Most products today are system- or network-specific. Everybody agrees that the two are coming together, and Opsware is the first to move in that direction."

Companies such as Countrywide Financial, Microsoft, and T-Mobile are using the Network Automation System, Opsware says. Countrywide uses the software to automate the management of 6,000 network devices in 2,000 branch offices; Microsoft uses it to manage 10,000 network devices in seven global data centers; and T-Mobile uses the system to automate the management of 18,000 network devices in thousands of Wi-Fi hot-spots.

Later this year, Opsware plans to add a central data warehouse to hold all information about network assets, configurations, and change history, as well as an enhanced tool to visually represent the network in greater detail than is now available.

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