Network automation software offers a familiar rendition

Opsware puts its acquisition of Rendition Networks to good use with a new network automation offering, looking to edge out competitors in the growing standardized configuration market.

Opsware Inc. has debuted an automated system to manage enterprise network infrastructures, its first network management

product since its acquisition of Rendition Networks Inc.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Opsware, which finalized a $30 million cash and stock deal for Rendition last month, is unveiling the Opsware Network Automation System (NAS) 4.0 in an effort to automate network infrastructure management.

Opsware NAS 4.0 is the newest upgrade to the TrueControl device management software technology that Rendition was best known for. It encompasses four main enhancements:

  • A new workflow automation component that allows users to design, automate and enforce complex approval processes.

  • A new compliance center that enables users to automatically ensure compliance with regulations and standards.

  • A new access control list manager that allows users to automate and standardize network security management.

  • A redesigned user interface that is now 100% Web-based client, with no need for client-install or client-side Java components.

    Prior to the acquisition, Opsware already automated Unix, Linux and Windows servers, as well as software and applications. But by adding Rendition Networks and its TrueControl product, it can now automate routers, switches, firewalls and load balancers for financial services firms, government agencies and telecommunications companies.

    The NAS 4.0 not only has network change and configuration management (NCCM) capabilities, it also offers full automation of other network-related priorities, such as regulatory compliance, policy enforcement and change process automation.

    Stephen Elliot, a senior analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp., said this is good news for enterprise IT pros because they can now automate time-consuming processes. He said this move toward automation is part of a larger trend that's demanding less vendors and more standardized products.

    According to Eric Johnson, Opsware vice president of engineering, NCCM tools allow network administrators to make massive changes across numerous network devices, but typically don't provide change confirmation, policy establishment or best practices enforcement.

    Johnson said the NAS 4.0 has a leg up on other NCCM tools because it provides complete network automation, change automation, compliance management, process automation, security administration and reporting across all operational activities.

    However, Elliot said NAS 4.0 is not unique in the device management market. AlterPoint Inc., Intelliden Corp. and Voyence Inc. all provide products with similar capabilities. According to Elliot, Cisco Systems Inc. is planning to grab a bigger piece of this pie soon when it announces a network configuration management strategy.

    For more information

    Read our exclusive on Opsware's acquisition of Rendition.

    Learn more about network management solutions.

    Elliot also said adding NAS to the company's existing IT automation suite was the first step in a long line of plans to integrate Opsware product configuration databases.

    Johnson said the NAS 4.0, when combined with Opsware's server automation system, provides a unified view of the application environment, including the underlying servers, applications, software infrastructure, network devices and all their interdependencies.

    Johnson added that the NAS 4.0 also gives customers a higher level of visibility and control over the compliance reports and functionality that enforce Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and corporate standards and regulations.

    This product, Johnson said, is ideal for large IT environments because it automates processes that span different IT groups and systems, and has an advanced compliance center for compliance management.

    Elliot said the product's standardization and compliance management elements are important because large enterprises are now more concerned with the looming deadlines and increasing government enforcement.

    Johnson said Opsware NAS customers have reported that they can meet compliance requirements such as SOX five times faster with NAS 4.0 than with manual efforts.

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