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Mark Woodward, President and CEO, Serena Software

Mark Woodward Change is a fundamental component of any enterprise's growth. Managing that change however isn't always an easy thing, that is unless you've got the right software.

Serena Software is among those that develop software to help enterprises manage, automate and deal with change. Serena claims that 96 of the Fortune 100 and over 15,000 organizations worldwide use its Change Governance software and services.

In 2004, the company made a $380 million dollar acquisition that moved it from being just a mainframe player to a wider array of platforms and products.

While many companies still strive to become publicly traded stocks, Serena went the other way. Serena had been a NASDAQ listed company but went private in March at the completion of a November 2005 deal.

Internetnews.com spoke with Serena's CEO Mark Woodward about the challenges of change, both in terms of technology and in terms of the changes that Serena has recently undergone.

Q: What's driving the new features and technologies that Serena is now rolling out? Is it just Web Services and SOA, or is it driven by individual customer demands?

With SOA we have already been there with most of our products for a long time. We had SOA in our mainframe change management product five years ago.

Certainly quite a bit of it is customer driven, and there are always things around usability and speed and such as well as just additional functions that customers need.

Another overriding theme is that updates are helping take our products into a very tightly integrated suite to help meet our change governance vision. Which is how we allow companies to manage change across their enterprise -- not just application change but any change that comes through information technology.

So our view is that any request for IT to do anything is really some kind of request for change. The concept behind change governance is to allow companies to visualize, orchestrate and enforce the effects of change on IT, whether that's a server change, an infrastructure change a network change all of this changes can be tightly inter-related.

Currently no one really has a solution to help companies truly understand the impact of managed change within IT as it relates to their entire infrastructure.

We lead a project on Eclipse called the Application Lifecycle Framework (ALF). ALF is an underlying technology to help customers integrate Serena and non-Serena products into a common integration platform across their enterprise to give them a common view and also to further help them to realize the change governance vision that we have.

Q: What would you say is the most common myth about what Serena does or doesn't do? How do you overcome that myth?

Serena, prior to the Merant acquisition, was focused on mainframe change management.

Through the acquisition of Merant we became the single-largest independent company solely focused on helping companies manage change, second only to IBM through their acquisition of Rational.

The problem has been because of Serena's heritage in the mainframe space there is still a view by many companies that our focus remains mainframe centric even though today that is only 30 percent of our business and shrinking.

Our approach to how companies should deal with change is not just to treat it as something you need to react to, but in fact you can use the ability to manage change as a strategic competitive advantage.

It allows companies to think not just about managing change but also how you can profit from change. How by being better at managing change you can truly profit from it by being faster to market than your competitors.

Don't think of change management just as hygiene or infrastructure. Think of how you use the management of change as a competitive advantage.

Q: Is IBM Rational your main competition? How do you compete against Big Blue?

They are absolutely our primary competitor.

In terms of revenue as reported they are the only company that is larger in terms of revenue, but we have more installed customers. We have about 15,000 customers, which is more than Rational has.

One of the biggest advantages we have going up against IBM, is that IBM does not have a product for doing change management on the mainframe. Which is why the 10 largest companies in the eight largest industries in the United States are all customers of ours.

IBM's advantage is that they are IBM and they can go in and play the big IBM card. Where they are going to win is if the customer wants a truly blackbox approach and IBM comes in and manages their environment. If that's what a customer wants that's what IBM delivers and it's not what we do.

If customers want best in class and an overall more holistic approach to how you mange change within IT, that's where we do better.

Q: Why are you participating in the Eclipse ALF project? Is open source the right way to go since your competitors could then use the same tools that you're helping to develop?

The thing that we bring to Eclipse is really taking it from a client technology to a server technology.

The reason why we decided to lead this effort was someone was going to come in and define this framework. It was an open box if you will in the Eclipse Framework and they wanted someone to come and lead this project.

We would much rather be a leader than a follower in the definition of how are we going to do this application lifecycle infrastructure.

One of the reasons why IBM wasn't very happy about this in the first place is because this infrastructure that we're going to provide for free as open source is something that IBM charges for in a proprietary platform.

So both IBM and Microsoft want you to use their platform. They want you to pay for an infrastructure that will keep you in their corner.

The whole idea with ALF is that it's completely open. And the way we can make money off it in the future is that we will sell products that are based on top of ALF that are vendor-supported and enhanced, and customers can decide whether they want to download the free version and customize themselves or buy support from a vendor.