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UC4 Offers Agent for Integrating Web Services

UC4 Software GmbH unveiled a product on Wednesday aimed at bringing Web services into an automated workload management framework.

The new UC4 Agent for Web Services supports WSDL and SOAP protocols and integrates with UC4's V8 automation engine, which was released in May. The product supports legacy on-premises applications, virtualized applications and applications running in cloud-based environments. It can also work with any service-oriented architecture software at the front end, according to company officials.

UC4, based in Wolfsgraben, Austria, provides intelligent service automation software for companies with "complex IT and business processes," including large datacenters running multiple applications. In addition to addressing automation needs with Web services with its new product, UC4 is looking more toward cloud computing, which represents an evolving target at this point.

"We're finding that the [cloud] standards really aren't that well entrenched," said Matthew Busch, UC4's product marketing executive, in a phone interview. "Each cloud provider is providing their own set of standards and APIs to work with it, and that's causing a lot of difficulty in the marketplace. What we're providing with the UC4 Agent for Web Services is a tool that will be able to communicate and work with all of the different API sets that are going to be provided by all of the various delivery models."

Software-as-a-service providers do provide APIs, said Fred Kohout, UC4's chief marketing officer. Moreover, infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service companies are either providing or starting to provide a set of APIs that are Web service-enabled. However, many organizations trying to leverage cloud computing resources are still on their own.

"Right now with cloud environments, what we're finding is that it is very much a situation in which you have to build your own," Busch explained. "If you have to build and manage it on your own, we see UC4 Agent for Web Services as a tool to help you build standardized integrations and standardized processes to help manage the software that you are running as a service -- or the platform or the infrastructure."

The move toward automation to effectively manage cloud computing resources is part of an industry trend, according to Kohout. For instance, Cisco Systems acquired Tidal in May, along with Tidal's Enterprise Scheduler and Intelligent Automation technologies. In December, Microsoft acquired Opalis Software and its IT process automation technology with the idea of integrating it into Microsoft System Center products.

"We see that automation becomes the next critical part of how you deliver a well-operating datacenter and how you optimize IT resources with and against your business requirements," Kohout said.

Microsoft plans to use Opalis' technology to integrate with other infrastructure management products, such as solutions from BMC Software, CA, HP and others, according to its announcement. UC4 sees its solutions as being complementary to Opalis' software, according to Busch, who described Opalis' software as "a workflow enabler for the datacenter."

"Opalis is only concerned with the runbook in the datacenter, which is more of the infrastructure management," Busch said. "From UC4's perspective, we are working with not only the infrastructure and some of the automation of the infrastructure, but really with a lot of the application and business processes that are associated with it."

UC4's solution helps automate those processes using a graphical user interface. Little to no scripting is required, but IT personnel do need to have the knowledge of the API and the functions enabled, according to Busch.

UC4 is considered to be a "value leader" among workload automation software providers, according to Enterprise Management Associates' (EMA's) "Workload Automation: Q1 2010" report. The EMA WLA Radar Report found UC4 to be in the same top category as BMC Software and Orsyp. The report describes 13 software companies with "very promising solutions." However, none of them "has yet reached the pinnacle of maturity," according to the report's author Andi Mann. Job scheduling is the most advanced feature, but vendor solutions still need work in terms of IT process automation, resource optimization, business integration and predictive analytics, according the report.

A November 2009 Forrester Research report ranked CA as the leader among workload automation software vendors, followed by BMC, ASG, IBM Tivoli and UC4. The report, "Market Overview: Workload Automation, Q3 2009," suggests that the next evolutionary step for workload automation software vendors will be to "integrate workload automation with business service management."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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