Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

A gentle introduction to Opalis, Automating the Ordinary

I go to many sites and get offered a lot of coffee , however it never turns out he same as there is no standard automated process to make coffee, there are different steps in the process, and of course people are on different versions for milk sugar and coffee. Most of the coffee is drinkable and so I am OK, however when it comes to systems management process need to be run exactly as per the approved process.  Some process need to be run again and again and humans aren’t good at doing that and of course are expensive so if it isn’t automated it’s expensive and unreliable.

It’s all about automation of process that need to be performed regularly in a business.  The trick is to know where the line is between the time taken to design a process for automation against how much time you will get back from not doing the process manually again and again.

When it comes to the private cloud automation is key, and while tools like PowerShell and PowerCLI allow you to do low level automation this requires considerable skill, is hard to debug and maintain and there aren’t always the hooks into other parts of your infrastructure while Opalis can talk to pretty anything so across virtually all the known system management tools (CA,HP, IBM etc.) , operating systems and applications. 

As you can see below Opalis can easily automate virtual machine creation in response to a variety of events or requests.

By implementing this provisioning in response to critical events in tools like Operations Manager you can to a certain extent emulate the elasticity of a public cloud, to provide additional resources to a service under pressure and stand them down when the spike has passed.  I would stress this is not something it does out of the box and the implied scalability you get needs a service like load balancing that can make use of additional virtual machines as they come on line, but it can be done.  Obviously you can’t stretch the service beyond the computing power available in your data centre and you probably won’t have a lot of extra capacity in your data centre unless you are ruthlessly managing the services (again with an  smart Opalis process) to kill off idle virtual machines when they aren’t needed.

Opalis is now included in the higher end licenses of the System Center Suite (the enterprise and datacenter editions). It has deep integration with Service Manger , Operation Manager and Configuration Manager and for more on how to get started with it check the following:

  • The Opalis portal where you can download 180 day trial of the latest (6.3) version and get training and live meetings direct from the product team
  • the product team blog

The final thing you need to know is that this is the secret sauce that outsourcing companies are using to get the reduction in costs demanded by their customers particularly in the UK,  and I would argue that being an expert in Opalis where you are designing automation rather than repeatedly carrying out the same tasks day in day out, you will have a more rewarding and secure job in these uncertain times.