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Automic CTO: The chance to change CA with automation

CA Technologies acquired Automic in December 2017, and it is set to have a big impact on the Fortune 500 giant.

By Tom Ball

Automation – a keyword of 2017 that has been encircled by hype, holding the promise of a future in which technology can relieve humans of insurmountable tasks. This emerging space has not gone unnoticed by industry giants like CA Technologies, having made a major acquisition to stay on the heels of the rapidly transforming tech world.

Automic is the company that will be bolstering CA Technologies with its capabilities, in terms of both expertise and innovation. Speaking to CBR’s Tom Ball, Automic CTO, John Purrier, outlined exactly what he thought the draw was for CA Technologies in acquiring Automic.

“Automic had a viewpoint and a roadmap on how to bring artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics into automation, so I think that was pretty attractive to CA. Once we came in and we started talking to the security guys or the mainframe guys, we told them that we can orchestrate across various processes and we can provide that end-to-end governance, everyone wanted to talk to us,” said Mr Purrier.

Automic CTO: The chance to change CA with automation

John Purrier, CTO, Automic.

According to the Automic CTO, the plan is to be highly proactive, making an impactful mark on the essence of the Fortune 500 giant.

“There is a really good synergy with Automic coming in, and I think Automic really has the opportunity to change CA from its legacy viewpoint, and I give CA credit for being open to that. By the way, CA has a data science team, we sat down with them several times and said here is what we want to do, here is the kind of data we will be detecting.”

Upon the making of the acquisition, CA considered the move as a milestone in its strategy, adding the arrows of cloud-enabled automation and orchestration to its expanding quiver. The company also expects the acquisition to complement existing tech investments.

“I think we will be foundational across CA, and that changes the conversation about how CA builds products and how we actually bring solutions to customers. We are front and centre, for some reason, either through good planning on our part or the fates; we are in the right place at the right time with the right people,” Mr Purrier said.

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A hefty sum of $635 million was the figure agreed upon in the acquisition, which in addition to highly desirable and valuable automation expertise, also unlocked a well-established market in Europe.

Giving a snapshot of the process, Mr Purrier said: “We were acquired into CA about a year ago, and we spent the last year doing a couple of things, one is integration, bringing 600 people into an 11,000 person company. The more interesting piece is bringing the automation view into a company that has been very vertical, CA has business units and point products and that is how they sell, automation is a horizontal sale, and so bringing us in has changed the conversation to some degree within CA.”

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There is seldom an automation conversation without the potentially transformational effects it could have on cybersecurity, currently a central concern for organisations across the globe. Mr Purrier outlined the reason that automation belongs at the core of cybersecurity.

“What is interesting about security is you need to have repeatable and immutable processes, in addition to that you need research, the ability to detect what is happening on your networks, but if you do not have the ability to have that repeatable process then you always have bigger attack surfaces.

“We are the engine that drives those processes, and once you figure out the best practice for tying down your endpoints or your firewalls or your edge devices, then having the machine repeats the process,” said the CTO.

With massive disruption across the full spectrum of industries anticipated for the near future, caused by an array of new technologies, it has become apparent that a constant, ever present, all-encompassing layer of security is vital to survival.

Automic CTO: The chance to change CA with automation

John Purrier explained this dynamic, saying: “Any time you disrupt the normal operation you open up attack surfaces, so I see automation as key in the security world. You talk about DevSecOps, automation is obviously key for developers, key for operators and security guys alike.”

Most are being swept along with the excitement that AI is producing on a global scale, but some are concerned that AI is going to be extremely detrimental by taking jobs away from humans. Mr Purrier has a clear stance in this argument.

Purrier said: “Like there is a conversation on the dark side of AI, I think there is a dark side of automation. Are we displacing human beings? We are taking the processes that human beings shouldn’t be doing anyway, automate that stuff, let those people go off and do something that is of higher value.”

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