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CA Debuts IT Service Lifecycle Management

The season of cost-cutting continues as IT organizations are still being asked to do more with less. Enter Service Lifecycle Management software from CA.

The new software from CA (NASDAQ: CA) is designed to enable IT organizations to become service providers by automating everything from the minutiae of provisioning to the big picture as depicted in a services catalog.

The software is comprised of three components. CA Service Catalog 12 manages other software managers to provide a single picture of what's going on in IT services. CA Service Desk Manager 12.1 is actually more like a regular catalog, giving executives an interface for ordering services. CA IT Client Manager 12 automates provisioning and other tasks to improve efficiency and lower costs.

"We're taking a page out of the book of lean manufacturing. This process has been used for years in manufacturing and Toyota is its best-known practitioner," said Kathy Shoop, vice president of product marketing at CA.

And while thinking of IT as a service providers might be something of a dramatic change for the organization, Shoop explained that IT understands that these are tough times -- and that the organization has to engage in a dialog with the business about costs. Once an IT organization understands costs, it will want to charge users for what they consume.

"IT organizations need to understand supply and demand," Shoop said.

The IT service provider

The news comes as service providers are re-examining their relationships with users and are considering usage-based pricing but are facing a backlash from customers.

Within a business, it will be easier to change this relationship.

"IT has been seen as a black hole," Shoop said. "The business used them as an all-you-can-eat service."

That has to change, she added.

"Enterprise users have to understand what's most important for the business," Shoop said. "They have to understand that IT has limited resources. This dialog has to be the foundation of a new partnership. Businesses may stop doing some things, but they will start doing the right things, and start doing the right things right."

The features

In order to achieve these goals, businesses need to provide schedules that are visible to everyone. The Service Desk Manager has a change calendar feature that that everyone can see.

"It's good for collision detection," Shoop said. "Sometimes, we're our own worst enemy. If the software group schedules an upgrade of a product at a time when someone's trying to add RAM to a server, you can see when those changes conflict and reschedule as necessary."

The IT Client Manager helps organizations maintain and inventory of services. It enhances data provided by other CA tools and by tools from other vendors, such as Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS).

The IT Client manager also helps collate data from a variety of sources, as organizations may have many discovery technologies in place.

"When we go in, we often find CA and Microsoft and half a dozen other vendors," Shoop said. "Without IT Client Manager, it's difficult to get the data all in one place."

The ultimate goal is seamless integration. "We can hearken back to the days when ERP [enterprise resource planning] was modules that didn't work together. It was like getting parts for a 747 plane that didn't fit together. Now ERP works, and we're far down that path. We have complementary pieces that all fit and work together and have workflow and best practices built-in."