RPath wants to simplify IT automation with new UI

A new GUI will allow a broader range of IT people to use the product

Software company rPath is updating its platform for automating application management across physical, virtual and cloud environments with a new graphical user interface, aiming to make the product easier to use, the company said Tuesday.

RPath's platform has been developed to help enterprises deploy applications or stacks of applications and handle change management faster and more effectively, according to Jake Sorofman , chief marketing officer at rPath. The now launched X6 platform is a radical transformation when it comes to the user interface, he said.

The company has taken what was historically a wonky product that was very command-line centric and added a more dynamic GUI so that a broader range of IT people can use it, according to Sorofman.

Using X6, an IT department can automatically deploy and update applications, middleware and operating systems according to life-cycle management rules defined by the enterprise. For example, a systems administrator can drag-and-drop a database to Amazon's cloud and automatically install it.

Configuration capabilities have also been expanded to include network and security settings. However, organizations can still use separate tools, including Puppet, Cfengine and Chef, if they want to, according to Sorofman.

The first thing rPath does when an application is added to its repository is to inspect it. That is done in order to figure out its dependency chain, which is used to ensure that an application is installed correctly. For applications developed in-house, where dependencies are often not properly documented, it can be especially useful, according to Shawn Edmondson , director of product management at rPath.

Next, a user can also enforce an IT policy around how a system should be constructed. For example, through the inclusion of a management agent that upon deployment is immediately discovered by the management platform, and that can tell that a particular version of an operating system has to be used.

All of that is used to put together a blueprint that describes what needs to go into a system. The blueprint is then used by rPath to create and change images on-demand with version control. The image is custom-made for the intended environment, so if the intended target is Amazon's cloud an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) file is automatically created.

Currently, rPath X6 works with Amazon and Rackspace clouds. The company is also looking at a deeper integration with Microsoft's Azure this year. Enterprises can also use X6 with private clouds based on platforms from VMware, Eucalyptus Systems and OpenStack. For enterprises that want to use traditional virtualization, X6 is compatible with hypervisors from Microsoft, Citrix Systems and VMware.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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