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IT shops weigh Microsoft buy of Opalis Software

IT pros clamoring for a bundled data center automation package favor the acquisition; heavy users of Opalis support, not so much.

IT pros using Opalis Software have strong opinions on the pending Microsoft acquisition of Opalis, depending on how much they use the data center automation software. The deeper they are into Opalis' run book automation and job scheduling features, and the more they lean on support, the more concerned they are.

James Hankey, vice president of IT and director of operations at financial investment firm John G. Ullman & Associates (JGUA) in New York, professed shock at the news announced late last week.

"I'm afraid we're going to have to end up paying more money," he said.

JGUA has been an Opalis data center automation customer for about 10 years. In 2000, the company needed to streamline processes required to produce client reports. Hankey said JGUA spent a lot of money paying people overtime for processes that the Opalis software performed using run book automation. Now JGUA uses it primarily to monitor those processes.

"Microsoft is lousy in terms of support," he said. "Other Microsoft products we use we have to pay $250 just for a call, and we use the support lines heavily with Opalis."

Victor Martinez, director of information systems at Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA, has a different take on the deal. Kawasaki started using Opalis Integration Server software to help run its online commerce site. Most data the site needed -- including catalog, dealer and pricing information -- sat on the company's mainframe. Kawasaki needed an automated way to manage the transfer of that data to and from the staging and production servers that ran the site. They used Opalis' data center automation software to do it.

The company has since scaled back its e-commerce site, and now uses Opalis for job scheduling process management and automation. Martinez said he was happy to hear about the acquisition, and hopes Microsoft bundles Opalis software up with other products so that Kawasaki has to pay even less to use it. The company rarely uses Opalis support lines.

"Anything Microsoft gets their hands on, they commoditize," he said. "From our standpoint, that's positive. If we were really using Opalis in creative ways, I might have some concerns around it. Custom things might not be built or I might not be as creative with the product as in the past. But for us it's been kind of a sleeping giant that does a lot of good stuff for us without a lot of work."

That seems to be the direction Microsoft could take Opalis, according to Microsoft channel partners. The thought is that Opalis software will be sold with Microsoft System Center, the company's Windows management products. Partners also said Microsoft's purchase of Opalis is a way for it to push harder into the cloud computing space.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at

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