Look, Ma: No hands!

Maybe network administrators can’t quite do their jobs from a hammock on a tropical island, but Opsware’s new Network Automation System (NAS) 4.0 brings them ever closer to hands-off network management.

Opsware’s goal is complete network automation, which company officials say is necessary for managing today’s explosion of servers and network devices. “There are hundreds of people managing thousands of pieces of equipment, and that’s left [information technology] in quite an awkward situation,” said Tim Howes, Opsware’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of development.

Company officials point out that today’s network change and configuration management solutions allow administrators to make changes across network devices but give them no way to determine if the changes were done accurately or to set policies and enforce best practices.

This is where Opsware steps in, offering automated compliance management, workflow automation, policy enforcement, new reporting capabilities and a new user interface.

Compliance — meaning accurate implementation of laws and regulations — is a hot area for the government, and Opsware’s new Compliance Center includes automated auditing and reporting for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the IT Infrastructure Library, Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Further, Howes said the product takes compliance to a new level — the application level — when NAS 4.0 is combined with Opsware’s Server Automation System.

Large IT environments need workflow automation, and NAS 4.0 can automate processes that span different IT groups and systems as well as enforce approval processes.

The product also offers new out-of-the-box and custom reports, and the redesigned interface is a Web-based application that eliminates the need for client installations and client-side Java components.

The software includes a new access control list manager that automates and standardizes network security management. This feature allows administrators to close security holes and automate responses to worms such as Slammer and Blaster.

Look, Ma: No Internet connection!

Agilix Labs has had so much success with its GoBinder mobilized application that other companies want to adopt it. Agilix officials have responded by releasing a GoBinder software development kit so other organizations can adapt the technology to their needs.

Mobilized applications allow road warriors to continue working when a network connection is lost or unavailable. Upon reconnection, the application automatically restarts and users can continue working where they left off.

GoBinder has enjoyed success in the higher-education market, where students have used it to mobilize their data. With the new kit, developers can customize the application’s interface, data structure and storage.

GoBinder uses Microsoft’s .NET framework, which allows developers to build plug-ins through Visual Studio .NET 2003.

“The product is ideal for collecting research information,” said Mark Calkins, vice president of platform marketing at Agilix. “We don’t want to put the burden on the user to get the latest information. You want to automatically get information when you connect to a network.”


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