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1/24/2005
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Startup Wants To Automate IT Processes

Software platform is designed to manage and automate many of the manual processes IT departments use to keep systems and networks operating.

Startup Optinuity Inc. on Monday introduced software designed to automate many of the manual processes IT departments use to run the systems and networks on which their businesses are built. Called C2O, the software aims to document, manage, and execute IT operations procedures and scripts, reducing the amount of hands-on work done by IT staffers to keep systems running.

Built on software called SKEmatrix, which was developed to automate scheduled tasks in mainframe batch environments, developers Rachid Sijelmassi and Anil Parthasarathy joined with Scott Stouffer, founder and former CEO of Visual Networks, to enhance the product, raise capital, and launch Optinuity last October. "We turned it into a workflow platform that lets IT departments take basic IT functions, turn them into building blocks, build procedures, and let the system run it," Stouffer says. "The focus is on process, not infrastructure."

C2O, described as an IT operations process-management platform, can automate a range of processes, Stouffer says, including job execution, data backup and archiving, indexing databases, distributing software, checking logs, running diagnostics, application shutdowns, site failovers, and restoring data, among others. The company says the C2O can substantially reduce the amount of time and money devoted to routine IT tasks, freeing up personnel for more productive duties.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission installed an earlier version of the software last summer to reduce the number of staffers devoted to running jobs on the agency's Bull mainframe, according to Michael Evans, CIO at the commission. Evans says he was looking for a product that could schedule and run jobs, work with the agency's AS/400s, and handle nighttime mainframe jobs.

"I had to staff my computer room 24 by 7 and wanted to reduce staffing," Evans says. "This software let me reduce the number of people devoted to these tasks. We were able to take flow-chart type diagrams and turn them into automated procedures. We cut three hours off our nighttime run and it eliminated one of our biggest problems--operator error."

IT departments in large companies are spending as much as 80% of their budgets on day-to-day operations and maintenance, analysts say. "Optinuity is trying to address a major pain point for IT departments," says Emre Onder, a senior consultant at Fletcher Spaght Consulting. "If there were tools available to automate IT processes, IT departments wouldn't need all of these people to manually manage these things. Optinuity is trying to bring more control and discipline to day-to-day IT workflow procedures for mission-critical applications."

Business-technology managers have a wide range of tools to monitor and manage IT systems and networks, including well-known products like Hewlett Packard's OpenView, Computer Associates' Unicenter, and IBM's Tivoli. Stouffer says C2O will work with those systems, using information and alerts sent by them to trigger procedures to help resolve problems more quickly. Says Stouffer, "We can leverage the expertise of the IT staff by taking the scripts and work that they do manually and automate it into executable processes."

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