IT shops weigh Microsoft buy of Opalis Software

By Mark Fontecchio, News Writer
16 Dec 2009 |

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

"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