RealTime IT News

CA Looks Ahead

Computer Associates interim CEO Kenneth Cron told customers the company is focusing on the future and backed it up by unwrapping new software and services to better manage IT processes.

"As you know, we've had some challenges recently," Cron said in a keynote speech to launch caworld in Las Vegas Sunday. "I want you to understand CA is a company with huge strengths -- financial strength, technology strength, strength in people and products. CA's strong and we're ready to move ahead. I've committed CA to the highest standards of fiscal discipline and integrity."

Cron's words launched the 10th anniversary of the Islandia, N.Y., software management company's convention, caworld, at a time when other news about the company has trumped all other announcements. For example, a federal investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) over questionable accounting practices has now led to financial restatements.

Close to 10,000 attendees are expected during the show this week. A packed house sat while Cron, the newly-minted executive, spoke about the thorny issues surrounding CA's business practices. But they also got an earful of how customers into CA's future.

While the company's executives wait for word on the findings of the SEC investigation, which Cron expects soon, CA has been busy tweaking its software for what the interim CEO calls the "Age of Management Software."

Called Enterprise Infrastructure Management (EIM), CA's new integration strategy aims to consolidate end user, business and data processes under one umbrella regardless of vendor platform. EIM's goal: to make the IT department just another function of the business, with more visibility for concerted decision-making processes and run like just any other group within the enterprise.

"Companies used to purchase accounts payable, general ledger, order entry and procurement from different technology providers," Mark Barrenechea, CA senior vice president of product development, said in a statement. "This does not happen today. Companies have learned that an integrated approach mitigates the high costs of manually integrating disparate applications. Management software is evolving in the same way."

Two new programs were announced Sunday to solidify CA's EIM strategy, Unicenter Service Management and CA Management Bundle for Microsoft Exchange. Both give customers a "top-down" view of the corporate network and the activities underway, warning of potential or actual problems and improving integration efforts.

The new Unicenter offering automates service delivery and financial administration overview for executives. Using dashboards and service delivery catalogs, CIOs and other executives can monitor changes in network performance, measured against pre-determined service level agreements (SLA) between the company and customers or the cost to deliver IT services to the customer.

For its CA Management Bundle for Microsoft Exchange, the company tapped its own experiences with the server technology to deliver improvements, said Yogesh Gupta, CTO, at Monday's caworld keynote speech.

With nearly 100 Exchange Servers running its email and IT infrastructure worldwide, Gupta said he's aware of the challenges of running the software: servers grinding to a halt when it runs out of storage space, monitoring software updates and patches and watching for and eliminating spam and viruses.

"Try doing a hundred different management functions across a hundred different boxes, and that's just a nightmare," he told caworld attendees. "We recognize the need here for folks like yourselves, looking at our own environment, and came up with a brand new solution, a complete management solution just for Exchange.

The Microsoft Exchange bundle lets managers look at all the Microsoft servers on the network (whether they use the Management Bundle or not) and see how they are performing. Using a combination of Unicenter, eTrust (virus checker) and BrightStor (server recovery) software tools, CA customers on an Exchange 5.5/2000/2003 network are able to automate many of the back-end security functions that would normally require time- and resource-intensive monitoring.

Just last month CA restated $2.2 billion in past financial reports, ousted former chairman and CEO Sanjay Kumar, fired nine financial and legal department managers, and installed Cron as interim CEO until it could find a permanent replacement. Three former financial executives have recently pled guilty to federal charges over the financial scandal.