CA brings integration, troubles to World

As Computer Associates International heads into its annual global user conference in two weeks, it faces serious customer concerns about the company's health and leadership after admitting to accounting improprieties last month and transferring its CEO to the post of chief software architect, said Mark Barrenechea, CA's senior vice president for product development.

At CA World, which runs May 23-27, the company will unveil products to integrate management functions now provided in four separate offerings that manage systems for security, storage, operations and software application life-cycle management, Barrenechea said in an interview Tuesday with Computerworld. The upcoming integration product, which he wouldn't name, is designed to help customers lower the total cost of ownership for systems and network management products.

But the focus is on CA management, following the decision that former CEO Sanjay Kumar, now CA's chief software architect, won't be giving a keynote address as previously planned. Nor will guest keynote speaker Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. secretary of State, appear. Albright cited personal reasons for withdrawing from the event, according to CA officials.

Barrenechea also clarified Kumar's role as chief software architect, saying that he now has no operational or managerial responsibilities. Instead, Kumar will have more time to "speak to customers and guide software strategy," he said. He called Kumar "brilliant and world-class and one of our best assets" and said Kumar will be available to speak to customers at CA World even though he is no longer delivering a keynote speech.

Despite promising technology announcements, customers visiting CA World in Las Vegas will primarily want to hear about CA's soundness, Barrenechea said.

"Certainly, I think the top issue will be the state of the company, (which is) top of mind for everyone and a fair question," he said. Kenneth Cron, a CA director appointed interim CEO on April 26, "brings a lot of maturity ... a lot of stability ... understands the macro aspects of the marketplace and is providing fantastic interim leadership for us. (He will) be speaking very directly about the company."

Barrenechea said the accounting problems stemmed from reporting irregularities in 2000 and 2001 and didn't involve phony revenues. "Our statement (from April 26) showed that it was simply a matter of timing ... though very serious. All our business was real."

Other CA officials last week described an audit showing that US$2.2 billion in revenue was booked prematurely by quarter within fiscal 2000 and 2001, in which 35-day months were used to time revenue recognition.

On a positive financial note, Barrenechea said CA has US$4 billion in deferred revenue, with an additional $1 billion in cash. "We're the leader in the fastest-growing and largest segment of software for CIOs," he said.

CA users will also arrive at CA World with worries about the pace of change in software application products, especially with up to 80,000 software patches issued last year by application providers, Barrenechea said. "There's a lot of change going on, so the other thing top-of-mind for our customers ... is how all this change is going to be managed and what's our vision behind doing that."

Regarding CA's integration initiative, Barrenechea gave few details other than to say that the company will provide a "horizontal integration" across four major management products: eTrust, for security management; BrightStor, for storage management; Unicenter, for enterprise management; and AllFusion, for application life-cycle management.

"We will be announcing at CA World integrated management," he said. "In the past, we've been focused on integrating the verticals, and we will be unveiling and discussing products that are taking integration horizontally at unprecedented levels. We'll be highlighting eTrust, BrightStor, Unicenter and AllFusion. ... Over the next one to two years, we will emerge as the leading provider of integrated management."

Barrenechea said the integration products will rely on "common services" software with a new name. The software will affect the data level, the business process level and the user experience level.

Barrenechea also said that CA will continue to describe its products as desirable in an "on-demand" world. On-demand is a philosophy that he described as "a fundamental way of running an IT organization and of building software and value" that relies on the simplification of IT systems and standardization, as well as centralizing data about systems and virtualizing systems.

In addition to integration software, Barrenechea said CA will announce plans to "leverage some open-source (software) to bring into the management space" as well as a plan to make "contributions back to the open-source community."

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