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February 5, 2006

CA’s new CTO outlines vision

CA Inc's new chief technology officer Mark Barrenechea has the integration of product assets at the top his agenda. Having just moved over from heading products and technology, Barrenechea gave us a few ideas of where he intends to direct efforts near term.

By CBR Staff Writer

At CA, the CTO’s role is primarily to implement, rather than create, product strategy. And with a bulging list of recent acquisitions, ranging from Netegrity in identity management to Concord Communications for network node management, as well as Niku for governance and Wily managing web applications, Barrenechea will have his hands full.

Some of the pieces are in place. Like most enterprise management vendors, CA’s Unicenter was hardly a unified suite. Like Tivoli, it has begun tying the pieces together with configuration database, so an asset registered under asset management is reflected in desktop, network management, antivirus or other tools.

Under CEO John Swainson, CA has redefined its core focus under the Enterprise IT Management umbrella to encompass security, storage, enterprise systems, and business service optimization. Going forward, Barrenechea said that going forward, CA will start offering functional suites that may cut across these areas.

For instance, network management, which falls under enterprise systems, could expand beyond event correlation and resolution to also incorporate elements of security or service optimization. That would assume that network events would get correlated with higher level business services, requiring the imposition of security policy regarding what is an acceptable message, who is an acceptable requestor or recipient, and so on.

Managing services-oriented architectures (SOAs) is clearly a missing link in CA’s current offerings. Admittedly, aside from HP (which acquired Talking Blocks), none of the systems management players have yet made definitive moves in the management of services per se, although IBM’s Tivoli has begun piecing together a strategy for managing composite applications.

In large part, the gap is attributable to the fact that management of SOAs until now has primarily been the domain of software organizations, while management of systems has fallen under infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, Barrenechea said that SOAs are becoming a major priority for CA. You’ll see our software become more SOA-enabled, he said. Exhibit A is that CA has web-service enabled the former Netegrity product line, now branded eTrust. Down the line, he said that CA would implement standards such as WSDM (Web Services Distributed Management) to expose Unicenter functionality through services.

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He added that CA would use SOA technology to provide more linkages to third party products, mentioning that there are roughly a dozen major software platforms out there that reach a critical mass of the market. A few examples included Microsoft Exchange, SAP, Oracle, DB2, WebSphere, and WebLogic.

Wily already has an embedded relationship with SAP, he noted, adding that CA’s identity access management eTrust solutions are being used to provision access to many of those popular platforms.

Systems management has always been a tough sell because of its generalized nature. Even with initiatives such as ITIL, which focus on service management and delivery, most of the action has been on service desk (help desk), which is the most visible aspect of enterprise systems management.

Consequently, it would be interesting if CA could focus some of its enterprise management crosscut offerings in targeted editions, such as Unicenter security and identity management for SAP or Microsoft Exchange. It could complement general perimeter measures that are always necessary with solutions focused on the tangible areas that have the critical mass of enterprise computing activity.

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