Posted by: Ryan Shopp
Alterpoint, BladeLogic, BMC, DataCenter, HP Software, IT Process Automation, NetIQ, Opalis, Optinuity, RBA, RealOps, Run Book Automation, Stratavia
This is an area I haven’t hit on yet but will also need to fit into the reference model (that one of these days I’ll get back on track)
Lots of action what Gartner and others are calling Run Book Automation or RBA!!! So let’s summarize the latest.
Optinuity launched a new version of their product that has also been re-branded. Attempting to elevate and differentiate itself beyond the other RBA vendors through re-focusing their primary target audience (from IT Operation Executives to Enterprise Application Executives) and adding specific functionality to provide a self-contained (not reliant on IT Operations) closed loop, automated process (e.g., application monitoring). The goal, per talking with CEO Scott Stouffer, is to get as close to the enterprise applications themselves as possible (e.g., the teams that develop and/or perform the advanced support/administration for them). One example discussed was a unique “locked account” scenario that was happening thousands of times a month and thus wasting hundreds, if not thousands of man hours a month!
Opalis launched a new version of their product (version 5.4) which includes some intriguing enhancements in the areas of automating virtualization and the ability to run simulations of process automation workflows prior to deployment in the live environment. They also continue to sport a very impressive list of out-of-the-box IT Operations centric connectors for products/companies that don’t have a process automation product including; BladeLogic, EMC, IBM, Microsoft, Symantec along with support for various product from the other big 4 vendors that do have competing products (e.g., BMC, CA, HP).
HP announces their re-branded suite that includes the former iConclude product HP has so many pieces for automating the data center (beyond the RBA capabilities)…the question now is can the execute on it’s organization (e.g., product bundling/branding), integration (e.g., focus on delivering the right use cases end-to-end) and deployments (e.g., making this all come together inside complex enterprises).
BMC made their move into this space back in the summer time (July) with their acquisition of RealOps. They re-branded this product as BMC Run Book Automation and are using it to tighten up and automate the process flows between their other products; Remedy, Atrium, Marimba, etc. Of course you can still use the platform to integrate with non-BMC product but they are going to focus on their own product line.
NetIQ recently threw their hat into the ring also. Now a subsidiary of Attachmate, they built their solution internally over the past couple years (prior to BMC or HP joining in). Their focus appears to be, in my opinion, around helping ensure their product AppManager stays competitive with other System/Application monitoring vendors (e.g., BMC, HP, IBM, CA, Microsoft). The challenge will be that the service desks they would integrate with are part of companies that now also offer this Run Book Automation technology. So basically, if your a current NetIQ customer and happy then you now won’t be as motivated to go to BMC or HP who own all three components (e.g., system monitoring, process automation and service desk). Smart strategy move to continue innovating and keep current customers happy.
Stratavia also announced their latest product release in October. Originally more focused on automation tasks for databases, they continue to evolve their product to be competitive with the other non-database centric but more system/applications centric vendors. This database automation functionality evolved from their original business model of being a managed service provider for remote database management (at that time they were called ExtraQuest).
To that point, it’s amazing how many of these RBA or IT Process Automation companies come out of operational businesses. Stratavia was original a managed services provider, RealOps came out of the consulting ranks from Windward Consulting. This makes sense with various Data Center Automation function…they are very complex and challenging tasks that originally are tackled with service-based approaches only then to be automated with software. Beyond this RBA sector, another couple vendors that started from similar origins would be Opsware (originally a managed service provider) and BladeLogic (whose founder were previously responsible for operating the infrastructure for a managed service provider)
I also read in a recent Forrester report by Jean-Pierre Garbani that the first market sizing forecast for the IT process automation software space is about $50 million today, but forecasted it to grow to about $700 million by 2015. Now that is some SERIOUS GROWTH!
One last item, I want to give credit where credit is due to a former boss, colleague and friend Dave Williams who is now at Gartner. I remember him talking about this space looong before anyone else! That is recognized in this write-up by internetnews.com. When he left AlterPoint back in February 2006 I remember talking about these products over lunch a number of times. I had the chance to work closely with the RealOps executive team when AlterPoint built a partnership and integration with them.
So if you have a very, very complex IT Operations environment or are seeing skilled people doing very unskilled/mundane tasks over and over and over…it’s time to check out one or more of these vendors!
So what other “Run Book Automation” vendors are out their at what have been your experiences so far with their products, the company itself and their partners??? Please chime in with your comments as I know their are a ton of people evaluating and using these products these days!