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BladeLogic Enhances Data-Center Automation

Operations Manager can handle new software releases, perform ad hoc changes in system configurations, and reconcile IT operations with business policies.
While major tech vendors continue to promote utility computing strategies, niche software providers are starting to deliver data-center management applications to help business-technology managers move toward a utility-computing architecture. BladeLogic Inc. on Monday launches Operations Manager version 5, software designed to cut data-center operating costs and improve IT responsiveness through new automated server- and application-provisioning capabilities.

BladeLogic is competing in a utility computing market that features Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems, which are building product lines through alliances and acquisitions. But to succeed in the data-center automation market, software vendors need to deliver specific capabilities to be considered a viable competitor, says Dev Ittycheria, BladeLogic's president and CEO. They include the ability to accommodate spontaneous or ad hoc changes in system configurations, manage new software releases, and reconcile IT operations with business policies, he says.

To address those needs, Operations Manager version 5 has an administration engine that lets IT workers make ad hoc changes across multiple systems at the same time and a provisioning engine for allocating and re-allocating capacity. It also offers a change engine for automating software updates and a compliance engine for auditing data-center activity relative to business policies.

BladeLogic, whose 80 customers include Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc., designed Operations Manager to work with servers running Linux, Unix, or Windows operating systems. Prices for Operations Manager start at $1,200 per server.

BladeLogic's chief rival, Opsware Inc., recently introduced the latest version of its data-center operating system, Opsware System 4.0, which includes Data Center Intelligence software to track and analyze the status of an IT infrastructure. BladeLogic and Opsware solve problems that companies are facing right now in their data centers, says Meta Group VP Corey Ferengul. "Provisioning and IT resource allocation are where utility computing is today," he says.

Still, companies are treading cautiously when it comes to the new paradigm of automated data-center management, Ferengul says. "We'll start to see some real buying action related to these types of applications the later half of next year."