Opsware readies application mapping tool

Opsware, a provider of automation software, will offer a new application discovery and mapping product next month that could help organizations better manage complex information technology infrastructures.

The Opsware Visual Application Manager (VAM) gives IT managers a complete picture of all servers, software and network elements, company officials said.

VAM goes beyond the capabilities of other application discovery and mapping products because it combines interactive application dependency maps with change automation for applications, network devices, servers and software, said John Menkart, Opsware’s director of federal sales.

Application dependency mapping can be expensive, Menkart said. Most products in this category only perform discovery functions and draw pictures of the IT infrastructure, he added. “Customers are interested in pictures, but they [also] want to make changes.”

After IT employees have an interactive view of their networked systems and applications, they can better understand the state of their IT environment and identify the potential impact of changes at the infrastructure and application levels, Opsware officials said. VAM enables them to identify potential change conflicts and execute actions such as reconfigurations, patching, audits, policy remediation and other change management functions.

VAM is a component of Opsware System 6, the latest version of its network and server automation software, which the company introduced in June.

VAM is a powerful tool because it is an integrated product set in which Opsware’s network and server automation software feeds information into the application discovery product, said Bill Schell, president of August Schell, a systems integrator that works with the Defense Department on public-key infrastructure technology issues. He said the company also has clients at U.S. intelligence agencies using Opsware automation tools who want Version 6 so they can get VAM.

“I wish I [had] had a tool like this a couple of years ago at the DOD,” Schell said. He described a situation in which he thought there was a problem with an application, but after doing a lot of digging, he discovered network latency was the issue.

For instance, he said, an IT administrator using VAM in concert with network and server automation could quickly determine that an application listed on a certain network port is running on a system configured at a low speed.

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