The Portfolio

Client: Opsware Inc. / Hewlett-Packard

Screenshot of Opsware SAS Main Window

Project: Server Automation (SAS)

Launched: Version 5.5 in July 2006 and presently supported as HP Server Automation

Opsware Inc. was a technology start-up whose purpose was to provide automation tools which allow datacenter administrators to better manage large numbers of devices. A typical datacenter would have a 20:1 ratio of devices to administrators, but with Opsware software the goal was to raise that by an order of magnitude to something like 200:1.

In 2005, Opsware had concluded that while the foundation of the Server Automation tool was sound, the user interface had become a competitive disadvantage. They had begun to lose deals to their major competitor, and it was clear the deciding factor was that users found the tool to be too complex and difficult to use. The user interface team was reorganized, and I was brought onboard drive major changes to the UI to turn it from being a disadvantage to being a major selling factor.

Screenshot of Opsware SAS Object Window

The original user interface for SAS had been developed when Opsware was a services company called Loudcloud. It was a rudimentary web interface, but was found to be both slow and difficult to use. Prior to my joining the company, the product and engineering team had made the decision to migrate from the web to a Java/Swing based user interface which would allow them to store more information on the client, thereby allowing faster access and manipulation of the data with regard to sorting and filtering. My job was then to craft the user model for this Java client.

Some of the interesting features of the Opsware SAS user interface were:

  • Multi-tier navigation system to support environments scaled to include 10,000+ devices
  • Individual windows for each object type, which supported browsing of detailed information on a per object basis
  • Task windows that combine wizard input functionality, job progress status, and historical job record information.
  • Familiar interface paradigm to assist learnability of the system
  • Integration model that allows for connectivity and shared data with other Opsware applications (NAS, VAM, and OMDB)

The result of this effort was that customer sales climbed rapidly, and Opsware was able to easily distance itself from its nearest competitor. This eventually led to Opsware being recognized as the undisputed market leader in datacenter automation products, and eventually being sold to HP in 2007 for $1.6 billion.

set blue style set green style set red style
Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS