CA this week is set to unveil a slew of security, management and automation products that have industry watchers and IT managers speculating the embattled software vendor may succeed at making its technology better integrated and easier to use.
The company plans to announce three new software products and updates to five others that it says enhance capabilities to secure identities, manage complex environments and automate processes across IT domains. Industry watchers see the product news as part of a bigger comeback story for the software maker.
"CA has made tremendous progress over the past few years. In the past, the technology was presented in disconnected silos; they didn't seem to have a clear view of customers and the product strategy was not very well-orchestrated," says Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates. "CA has done well with its Wily and Netegrity acquisitions and continues to really work to address the requirements of managing and securing hardware, software, services and networks."
Hurwitz credits CEO John Swainson and his history with IBM as the catalyst for change within CA, which had to recover from previous executives' accounting scandals and a negative reputation among customers. The March 2008 appointment of Michael Christenson as president and COO also bodes well for the company operationally, Hurwitz says, as CA focuses on cross-selling software to its 4,000 largest customers. In addition, leadership from former Novell CTO and current CACTO Al Nugent enabled the software maker to restructure more than 1,000 seemingly disparate products into targeted technology portfolios, which CA has spent the past few years working to streamline, integrate and equip with a common agent architecture and shared underlying platform.
"CA is moving their products from islands of functionalities toward a comprehensive set of software tools designed to address customer demands," says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates. "Over time it has become less and less about products and acquiring the most software, and more about what it is that customers need to do and how CA can translate its technology into successful implementations."
Still, competing for security, management and automation customers directly against competitors such as HP (fiscal 2007 revenue exceeded US$104 billion) and IBM (fiscal 2007 revenue neared US$99 billion) would challenge any company the size of CA, Hurwitz says. CA reported revenue of US$4.277 billion for its 2008 fiscal year, which ended in March, an 8 per cent increase over US$3.943 billion in fiscal 2007.
"CA is a $4 billion company, which is nothing to laugh at, but the direct competitors are much larger than that and CA needs to continue to evolve their approach to managing a highly distributed environment to better compete," Hurwitz says. "The thinking around managing complex environments is changing. All the management vendors need to stay ahead of that thinking."