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Analyze that: Computer Associates

As part of our "Analyze that" series, Enterprise Storage Group Inc. analyst Peter Gerr takes a hard look at Computer Associates International Inc., Islandia, N.Y. In this interview with, Gerr analyzes what the software company has done right this year, what products are carrying them and how storage managers should approach buying from CA.

Which of CA's products do you think will still be around in three years?
It's clear that CA will continue to invest in solutions to fill out their Enterprise Storage Management portfolio, and work on integrating those solutions into their enterprise and systems management platforms. There may be a number of changes and enhancements made to the existing solutions, and CA may end up merging some products together. However, we expect that CA will continue to offer solutions that address design, resource management, provisioning and data protection. CA will also continue to integrate the myriad of point products it has into larger management frameworks to simplify the administration of networks, headed towards the "holy grail" of offering a single-pane GUI to manage the entire network. Can you give a brief overview of Computer Associates' product line as it relates to storage?
In the area of storage and information management, CA provides software solutions and tools under the BrightStor brand for both z/OS (mainframe) and Open systems environments. CA has historically offered basic data protection solutions for backup and restore and media management. Over the last two years, CA has broadened its portfolio to include SAN and NAS management tools, SRM and SNM products and, with its purchase of Netreon in early 2003, now offers SAN design, planning and implementation capabilities. What has CA done this year to make itself a stronger company?
CA is clearly dedicated to being a strong force in storage and information lifecycle management. The company has strong, established products and credibility in other areas of database and application management and security, but needed to strengthen its ability to manage more of an organization's storage equipment, and ultimately, the information itself. They've enhanced the SRM and SNM products and added some policy management, which makes their storage solutions a lot stronger than they were a year ago. They have outlined a roadmap for more automation and tighter integration with other CA solutions like security and asset management-if implemented correctly CA will have a broad portfolio that only IBM should be able to rival. Which products should the company think about discontinuing?
I wouldn't suggest that CA discontinue supporting any products, but I would expect the more discreet, single-threaded products like SRM/SNM tools that provide basic functionality like device and element management or storage capacity allocation, to be consolidated into larger, integrated "management suite" solutions. This feature [and] function consolidation is natural in the software industry, especially as CA's portfolio contains many products that it has developed itself and others it has acquired through acquisition. Who or what do you see as CA's biggest threat?
CA is seeing threats from many fronts, however I think CA's biggest strength is the fact that they have a broad portfolio of solutions to address enterprise, application, systems and storage management. Unfortunately, this diversity can also be a weakness. In the very competitive storage management market CA is competing with portfolio vendors like IBM Tivoli, BMC (with the EMC partnership), HP and Veritas on one hand, and with smaller vendors like CreekPath, Storability and InterSan on the other. The small vendors are winning deals now because customers are looking for best-of-breed without needing to buy into the big platform concept. At the same time non-traditional competitors are encroaching into other CA strongholds. Veritas entered the application management market and EMC is going beyond traditional storage management with their Legato acquisition and partnership with BMC. CA doesn't just have to worry about IBM these days; there are plenty of strong players targeting the storage management market. Bottom line, they need to be flexible and produce best-of-breed solutions while still leveraging the strength of the portfolio. That's not a simple task. should storage managers approach buying from CA?
There's no evidence that CA is offering any "deeper" discounts than other vendors, it's a buyer's market, in general. IT and business professionals continue to struggle with the basic challenges of determining what data has value, protecting their valuable information with sound backup and recovery tools and procedures, and improving the efficiency of managing their storage networks. Storage managers should be able to articulate these challenges to their vendors, and expect the vendors to offer reference accounts and solid proof that these problems can be solved.

For more on Computer Associates, see also:
CA hones utility computing plan

CA offers new version of ARCserve

CA, Sony team up on storage

In which direction is CA headed? Do you think it's the right roadmap for the company's future success?
There is a clear shift in value going on within the storage industry. Hardware, which is the storage systems themselves, are becoming [commodities] and the value is shifting to the software used to manage, protect, and share this information. CA is a software company, they always have been, and so they're "in the right place". Intelligent storage and information lifecycle management tools represent the next wave of innovation in the industry and CA appears to in a good position to address this shift.

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