Chapter 1: Introducing Opalis Integration Server 6.3

1 2 3 4 5 Page 3
Page 3 of 5

OpalisRobot user interface

Version 4 was also Opalis Software’s first (and only) attempt to make OpalisRobot available on multiple platforms; a Linux and Solaris version of OpalisRobot 4 shipped in 2003. This was also the first time Opalis Software used the term IT Process Automation.

Opalis Software secured its first round of venture capital finance in 2004; this led to sunsetting the OpalisRendezVous product and OpalisRobot-based solutions as the company began to focus on the nascent IT Process Automation market and to align itself to automation initiatives from BMC, HP, CA, and Microsoft.

The Idea of Data Center Integration and CAPs

The term Data Center Integration was born with a new series of Add-ons released that supported this effort. Opalis Software’s focus was now on providing integration and orchestration capabilities for management systems in the data center.

The company released the Connector Access Pack (CAP) for MOM in June 2004 and participated as a Microsoft System Center partner for the Operations Manager 2005 product launch. While Opalis Software released CAPs (later called Integration Packs) for Veritas Backup Exec, Remedy AR system, VMware Server, Microsoft SMS, and others, it was also busy creating the next generation of IT process automation software—to be called Opalis Integration Server.

What Rhymes with OIS?

By 2004, as Robot sales continued, it was clear that the product had the right idea but needed a refresh and modernization. Was the underlying code base the correct one moving forward? The answer was no. While Robot was an incredibly robust product like RendezVous before it, it was mired in a workgroup, or departmental domain mindset. Its architectural limitations made it clear that Robot would not be the vehicle to take the company forward.

OIS 5.0 was released in October 2005. This enterprise class automation platform, combined with Integration Packs for many common systems management products, enabled Opalis Software to dominate the ITPA/RBA market as an independent vendor until the Microsoft acquisition in December 2009. This gave Microsoft an immediate winning solution in a new market.

Introducing OIS 5.0

The first version of OIS was certainly a version 1.0 product, but the 5.0 moniker signified it would carry on the RBA torch from Robot (and that Robot would never leave the 4.x version world). Opalis Software also labeled the product 5.0 to avoid the impression that it was a first release product with typical first release issues.

Architectural Changes

OIS was clearly a different product from Robot. Although the most obvious architectural change was using a proper database as its backend, there were other changes as well:

  • Loosely indexed file replaced by a proper database

  • Scalable, multitier architecture using services that could run across multiple servers

  • Remote deployment and update

  • Load balancing across servers and object level failover (object level failover never worked properly and was quickly removed)

  • Logging and reporting with a dashboard

  • Active Directory integration

An Enterprise RBA Tool Becomes ITPA

With its improved architecture and design, OIS was ready to take the ideas of RBA and move past the single department administrator. After the tool was introduced to an enterprise, its value became clear; although the need for additional integration was also apparent. An enterprise has a large number of tools and departments. For the tool to see its full value, OIS had to incorporate the needs of all those departments.

This stage of the OIS lifecycle while ITIL was becoming popular in the UK and Europe, where Opalis Software did about 50% of its sales, and as the seeds of ITIL started to take hold in North America. This perfect storm of opportunity gave rise to OIS’s popularity. Taking an RBA tool into the data center while the ITIL framework was being broadly adopted led to Opalis Software creating many more IPs and transforming OIS into the first ITPA tool in the market. With the tool built, next steps were to build awareness and sales. Figure 1.7 shows an old marketing slide.

Figure 1.7

OIS marketing slide

Given the number of moving parts in Figure 1.7, explaining how OIS enables ITPA and facilitates ITIL was not an easy task. After implementation the value of ITPA and ITIL are obvious; however, it was another story to convince IT organizations to change how they view their tools, uproot years of manual processes, and install a new product that would do it all. Opalis Software was paving the way for all ITPA tools to come.

The transition to an ITPA tool was not without problems. The first versions of OIS struggled with a number of issues presented by the data center, but because the tool was so versatile, any problem could be worked around, even when it was a product limitation introduced by OIS! The early adopters and implementers understood the potential and deployed the product despite any shortcomings. They demanded more IPs, and Opalis Software delivered. At the time of the Microsoft acquisition, there were nearly 40 IPs, many written for a single customer.

Two Types of Workflow Engines and 6.0

As the product continued to mature, the product version numbers rose as well. By the time OIS reached version 5.45 in early 2008, it had become clear that the workflow engine used by the product had several serious problems and needed to be corrected. This correction was the single largest change to the product since transitioning from Robot to OIS.

The change was composed of a new workflow engine called Pipeline mode, branching continuing support for the previous engine, now called Legacy mode. For more information about workflow engines see Chapter 7, “Implementation and Best Practices.” This change also meant that a number of existing objects would become Legacy objects (only usable in Legacy mode) and require rewriting for the new engine. Curiously, this major change was only a dot release to OIS 5.6. However, this would be the final 5.x version of OIS. What would have been OIS 5.7 was rebranded OIS 6.0 as part of a marketing effort. Despite the major version change, 5.6 and 6.0 were far more similar than 5.5 and 5.6.

It was clear from the traction by analysts that the ITPA or RBA space was becoming popular and large software companies would be interested in acquiring the players in the space—such as Opalis Software, iConclude, and RealOps (all of which were eventually acquired). Opalis Software was the last to be acquired, possibly because the company struck up a number of OEM deals; first with BladeLogic (later acquired by BMC), and later with CA. These OEM partnerships probably helped discourage an outright purchase. Unfortunately, these OEM deals ended as the company’s investors found themselves in the 2008 economic downturn. The investors wanted to reclaim some of their investments, and Opalis Software was one of the few companies with a bright outlook, bright enough to seek a buyer.

OIS 6.2.2: The Final Frontier

As part of the acquisition process by Microsoft, Opalis Software was required to release a final version of OIS suitable for use by Microsoft and its customers. This version would be a modification of OIS 6.2 in which all the elements that contained open source would be remediated and ultimately removed, including the Opalis Operator Console. The resulting product, OIS 6.2.2, is the last version of OIS to be released as a full product complete with an installer. All subsequent releases of OIS (OIS 6.2.2 Service Pack 1 and OIS 6.3) would be released as product patches, with the core OIS 6.2.2 installation source untouched.

Microsoft Acquires Opalis

On December 10, 2009, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Opalis Software, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. Because OIS was the only software then sold by Opalis Software, this meant Microsoft was getting an ITPA tool.

Microsoft decided to make OIS part of the System Center suite and chose not to sell the product standalone. This means that the only way for a customer to get OIS is by purchasing the System Center suite through System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise (SMSE) or Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD). At the time of writing, there are seven members of the suite with respect to SMSE/D:

  • System Center Operation Manager

  • System Center Configuration Manager

  • System Center Service Manager

  • System Center Data Protection Manager

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager

  • Opalis Integration Server

  • AVIcode

Product Challenges

There have been a number of challenges associated with the transition, from both Microsoft’s and the customer’s perspective:

  • The manual processes required to install the product—The final version of OIS by Opalis Software was version 6.2.2. This was a remediated version of 6.2.1 in which all components unacceptable to Microsoft were removed (mostly objects based on open source and the Opalis Operator Console). It was important Microsoft had a complete and suitable version of OIS to make available until they were ready to rebrand it. There were three main reasons for this:

    • Microsoft wanted to keep OIS available and in market after the acquisition, as they felt the product would bring value to their customers. Often software from an acquired company is pulled down while it is rebranded and reworked internally.
    • When Microsoft started to actively modify the code and make it available, the product would be subject to a number of legal hurdles the company wasn’t ready to address. Essentially, as soon as Microsoft released it, OIS would be a Microsoft product and not the product of a subsidiary.
    • The last reason accounts for the unusual installation and upgrade process. Because OIS is a product of Opalis Software, Microsoft could provide only an upgrade in the form of patches, rather than a full installer. Knowing this makes the upgrade process from 6.2 to 6.3 make a bit more sense. Think of it as upgrading an Oldsmobile. Although the manufacturer went out of business in 2004, you can still get new parts and bolt them on; but without an Oldsmobile dealer, you cannot buy a 2011 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
  • The challenges around installing the Opalis Operator Console—These came about in the same way as installing the product itself. Microsoft was left with two options with regard to the Opalis Operator Console when it acquired the product: Allow customers to use it or use nothing. Because the console provides a number of features and several large customers use it actively, instructions on how to obtain and install it were included with the product. However, the console is based on Sun’s Java, and Microsoft is not able to distribute the bits. This leaves you with a manual installation requiring 17 separate downloads.

OIS 6.3 and Beyond

Barring the possibility of a minor release or service pack (SP), version 6.3 will be the last version in the OIS legacy. From here, the product takes on a new moniker, officially making it a Microsoft and System Center product. The new name, announced in March 2011, is System Center Orchestrator (SCO). Orchestrator will be part of the v.Next wave, scheduled to begin releasing late 2011. Anticipated changes include enhancements and bug fixes, but the majority of changes will be certification-related. In the overall structure of the product itself, its workflow engine, naming conventions, and best practices are anticipated to remain largely unchanged.

What did Microsoft deem as the most important final updates to the OIS legacy? Here is a list of new major functionality additions for OIS 6.3:

  • Updated Integration Pack for System Center Operations Manager

  • New Integration Pack for System Center Service Manager

  • New Integration Pack for System Center Configuration Manager

  • New Integration Pack for System Center Virtual Machine Manager

  • New Integration Pack for System Center Data Protection Manager

  • Support for install and execution of OIS on Windows Server 2008 platforms, including Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64), Windows Server 2008 (x64), Windows Server 2008 (x86), and all previously supported platforms

  • Support for install and execution of the OIS Client on Windows 7 and all previously supported platforms

For full documentation on the OIS 6.3 release, visit the online TechNet Library for OIS at

SCO 2012 Differences

A full view into what Microsoft intends to change between OIS and SCO is not yet available, but there are several items officially acknowledged or firmly anticipated by the community.

1 2 3 4 5 Page 3
Page 3 of 5
The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022