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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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