Wednesday, May 5, 2010

rPath brings data center automation to Windows environments

rPath is making taking a deeper step into the data center automation market with support now for Windows servers.

On Tuesday, the company moved beyond its Linux solutions to also now support Microsoft Windows with a new solution based on the .NET framework. rPath is working to fill a void in the marketplace for tools that let IT admins deploy, configure, maintain, troubleshoot—and automate—.NET apps and runtimes. [Disclosure: rPath is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

rPath’s market research shows a diversity (hairball?) of .NET production environments, with assemblies of scripts and manual processes stitched together by what the company describes as “harried operations engineers trying to cope with unstable, rapidly changing applications and exploding scale.” In other words, heterogeneity is no stranger to pure Windows environments.

Cutting operating expenses

With its decision to support Windows (Server 2003 R2 and above), rPath also pointed to Microsoft research that shows 47 percent of enterprise IT operating expenses are related to deployment management and incident management activities. The company also noted the increasing pressure to cut costs, while improving agility and responsiveness, as drivers for the adoption of automation solutions.

“Our success with Linux is driving demand for a solution that automates deployment and maintenance of Windows-based software systems,” said Jake Sorofman, chief marketing officer for rPath, in a release. “Today, the absence of automation solutions for Windows and the complexity of .NET applications deployments make this one of the thorniest challenges in enterprise IT.”

Automation and modeling for .NET environments

rPath will bring its automation technology to the Windows environment, complete with automated packaging and deployment of .NET and Windows apps, scalable updates, unified software automation and configuration, and release lifecycle management. This could come in pretty handy when taking these stacks to virtualized environments, be they HyperV, other hypervisors or in clouds like Amazon EC2.

In effect, the rPath automation approach helps bridge the often deep gap between design-time activities and run-time production management. The gap exists for both Linux and Windows environs, for sure. Any end-to-end automation is welcome, especially in virtualization settings.

What also intrigues me, and should interest Microsoft, is the ability to use the rPath solutions for migration and co-existence in dual production settings. A lot more enterprises are running both Windows and Linux, than are running only one or the other. I may want to be more smart, as a efficiency-minded CIO, in better picking and choosing what to run where apps-wise, and to automate more of the two platforms in some unison.

Can you say "common release automation?" Sure you can.

But that may be getting a bit ahead of the game. So let’s look at each area of the new rPath offerings a little more closely.

By storing CIM data under the same version control umbrella as software, rPath’s solution streamlines deployment and update consistent systems.

With automated packaging and deployment, rPath customers who use Windows environments can automatically discover and resolve dependencies. What’s more, policies will define how applications should be packages. This yields a self-contained, end-to-end system that’s ready to deploy to any physical, virtual or cloud environment.

rPath also offers system modeling that IT admins can use to control the flow of change into deployed systems. The solution also allows IT admins to apply updates incrementally to only the components that need to be changed. This approach eliminates unnecessary changes that can lead to downtime. As rPath explains it, deep version control also offers a solid foundation to reproduce, rollback and troubleshoot apps.

A unified solution with lifecycle management

Here’s how this unified system works: By storing common information model (CIM) data under the same version control umbrella as software, rPath’s solution streamlines deployment and update consistent systems. The solution does this by simultaneously deploying applications and their supporting configurations over the Windows management application programming interface (API) (WMI). rPath bills the new solution as the first real configuration management system for Windows.

Finally, rPath’s release lifecycle management platform offers a shared repository of version-controlled system artifacts that drive consistent reuse across the release lifecycle, consistent handoffs across the release lifecycle to eliminate the risk of configuration drift, and automated dependency discovery and resolution to minimize the risk of deployment failures and outages. rPath claims this dramatically accelerates and improves the quality of release processes.

rPath support for automated deployment and configuration of applications built using the Microsoft .NET Framework will be available in the third quarter of 2010.

For a white paper on "Automating .NET Application Deployment and Configuration" go to:
BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post. She can be reached at and
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