CA WORLD - Wireless site management app draws interest

Computer Associates International Inc. introduced several products at CA World 2004 Monday, but it was the company's Wireless Site Management -- aimed at operating and securing enterprise Wireless LANs -- that drew the most attention from users. Customers lined up here for demonstrations of WSM, some saying they are eager to get a beta version of the software to help them further secure WLANs.

A beta version of the WSM product is available now, but general availability and pricing have not yet been determined, according to Yogesh Gupta, CA's CTO. Most beta periods last three to six months, depending on customer interest and the need for improvements, he said.

Richard Gilbertson, vice president of ITS Services at Shaw's Supermarkets Inc. in Brockton, Mass., saw one of the demos and said he's eager to try out the WSM product in stores, where employees use Symbol Technologies Inc. handhelds linked by WLANS for various jobs. Gilbertson said he wants to learns more about whether the WSM client software works with Symbol products, and he added that he would also be concerned about price.

"CA usually starts pricing high and then works down," he said, citing years of experience buying various CA management products.

WSM is promoted by CA as nearly unique in the market, except for Cisco Systems Inc.'s LEAP product, according to Gilbertson and other CA officials. Features include automatic WLAN discovery and prevention of rogue users and devices, automatic encryption key management, location and time-based access control, connection load balancing to find optimal throughput per user and built-in reporting.

Linda Reino, CIO at Universal Health Services Inc., a King of Prussia, Pa.-based company that operates health care centers nationwide, said WSM has worked well at George Washington University Medical Center, especially in a project to set up partitioned networks in different areas of the hospital. For example, she said, it has helped locate rogue users. And it can stop users from wandering out of an area where a laptop or handheld should be used.

Gupta said the software would function well in a retail setting, where, for example, a mall manager might want two separate WLANs to operate next to each other. It can also be used to reduce the reach of a wireless access point, according to CA officials.

Maurice Ficklin, director of technical services at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, said WSM has been in use there for several months and promises to be helpful in segmenting WLAN access for teachers and students.

In addition to unveiling the WSM offering yesterday, CA also announced Web Services Distributed Management 3.1, a software product designed to improve control of individual Web services.

The company also laid out its Information Life Cycle Management strategy for helping customers improve financial performance within IT operations by using CA's BrightStor store management software to align management of information and storage assets with business goals. The first ILM product announced was BrightStor Document Manager, which incorporates the open-source Plone document management engine.

In another open-source-related move yesterday, the company announced the CA Trusted Opern Source License process, a take-off on the common public license that will be available from OpenSource.org. Using this new license, CA will release its Ingres Enterprise Relational Database into the open-source community.

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