I attended the Belgium System Center day today and saw some interesting stuff concerning Service Manager!
Not only can change management be automated with workflows without using Opalis, there is also an authoring tool which allows you to add custom workflows using a Visual Studio-like GUI.
To add the cherry on top, a custom tool called ‘PowerWF’ (link) was presented showing how powershell cmdlet’s can be combined in a single powerful solution or management pack using, again, a workflow designer. This very much resembled Opalis, with the main difference being the restriction to powershell and Windows Workflow Foundation-functions.
The authoring of SCSM activities is based on the WWF (Windows Workflow Foundation), an automation framework using .NET 4.0 with the current version (also 4.0). (link)
Although all these items were very interesting, I noticed that many existing System Center products have built-in automation which collide partially with Opalis’ functionality:
– Service Manager: Activities
– Operations Manager: Tasks and Recoveries
– Configuration Manager: Task Sequences
This made me wonder how these features will interact with Opalis or vice versa in the future:
Will Opalis eventually be broken up in WWF and be used to improve the current automation options in the SC-products?
Will Opalis become a flexible backbone for these features, extending the current functionality?
Will Opalis become the master-controller which will completely take over any existing automation?
Will guidelines be released defining best practices regarding automation and which product to use?
These four variations go through my mind when I think of a way to create a synergy between Opalis and the existing systems.
There are still many advantages that Opalis has above the current level of available automation:
– Cross-product interaction
– Coding language independent
– Cross-domain interaction
– Existing integration packs + SDK
– Pro-active workflow triggering with the use of monitoring (this doesn’t apply to SCOM-based monitoring though)
– Manageability (Check-in, check-out of workflows)
– Scalability (by deploying action servers)
I don’t see Microsoft buying Opalis to end up with scrapping it immediately, but at this point there are some ambiguaties between existing automation functions and those that Opalis will add.
Wether these will be solved by creating guidelines on how to achieve certain levels of automation or by making a change to the products themselves is something we’ll have to see for ourselves in the (hopefully) near future.