Systems management tools can go a long way toward making the lives of IT pros easier. But before long, you can find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time acknowledging and responding to alerts from multiple tools.

According to Keith Millar, vice president of product management at Opalis Software, OpalisRobot automates repetitive, routine management tasks, letting systems administrators concentrate on exceptions. For example, the product acknowledges alerts from third-party management tools, opens a trouble ticket, and follows documented resolution procedures to identify and resolve the most frequently occurring problems. The software updates a case log for each ticket every step of the way and requires your attention only if it can't successfully resolve a problem. OpalisRobot ships with more than 100 operators that let it integrate with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) and Systems Management Server (SMS) as well as third-party tools from vendors such as VERITAS Software, IBM Tivoli, and Peregrine Systems.

Computers excel at performing simple, recurring tasks, and I'm delighted whenever I see a product that relieves IT pros of some of the mundane interruptions that interfere with getting real work done.

—Barb Gibbens