CA confronts obstacles, unveils new apps

Computer Associates International Inc. is preparing to ease the pain for users running heterogeneous storage and security management applications. And CA says it will do so without forcing them to buy into its Unicenter enterprise systems management platform.

Executives last week told Computerworld US that CA is readying the rollout of stand-alone Web portal software for centralized storage and security management. The plan will be detailed at the company’s annual user conference next month. CA also plans to make announcements at its upcoming user conference regarding its relationship with its customers, but company officials didn’t elaborate beyond conveying a strategic direction.

Users face ever-increasing complexity with the proliferation of storage technologies such as storage-area networks and the new high-speed InfiniBand connectivity standard, according to Russell Artzt, a CA co-founder and executive vice-president who’s now in charge of the BrightStor storage line. The new BrightStor portal will help users manage heterogeneous storage protocols (such as Fibre Channel and SCSI), processes and vendor hardware in their enterprises, Artzt said.

Sanjay Kumar, CA’s president and CEO, said the effort was user-driven. “Customers want to look at storage not as MVS storage or Unix storage or [Windows] NT storage; they want to look at storage as storage,” Kumar said. “Large customers said they wanted us to pull these products together and allow them to have one view of storage, which we had done in enterprise management, so it’s a natural thing for us. We almost fell into it.”

Rather than make users navigate multiple screens to do things like access data on the performance of individual devices or applications, CA plans to allow them to manage and monitor their storage resources centrally through its customizable BrightStor portal. Users will be able to perform tasks such as checking into backup operations run by CA’s or other vendors’ applications or viewing the health of IBM or EMC Corp. storage hardware.

In the same vein, CA will also announce at CA World in Orlando Apr. 21-25 a security management portal, said Simon Perry, vice-president of security solutions at CA. The portal will let users manage their intrusion-detection, antivirus, policy compliance and other Web-based security applications from one point, said Perry.

Several users expressed interest in both products. Without having seen the portal, Jeff Rhoads, manager of enterprise systems management at Sallie Mae Inc. in Reston, Va., suggested that it could be just the thing to simplify administration, which he said accounts for 60 per cent of the workload for his IT security personnel.

Currently, just adding a user to the Sallie Mae network requires accessing about a dozen security applications for things like password activation. Sallie Mae’s objective is to build “an interface where one system can control all that access,” Rhoads said.

CA isn’t alone. IBM’s Tivoli division said it already offers portal products for access management and to coordinate security-related data generated from antivirus, intrusion-detection and other applications.

It particularly behooves CA to offer a single interface to manage the various storage products it has acquired over the years, said James Governor, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H. Companies can’t keep building new front ends as they add storage and security applications, said Governor, and the portal gives them a simple way of adding software without rebuilding the interface. Moreover, with the growing complexity of storage networks, storage managers need to have their own dedicated management tools, just as enterprise network software managers do, he said.

Governor suggested that one sticking point with the security portal may be that companies may not want any one individual to have central control of the security network. “I’m not sure the market is ready for that, but it’s great the tools are there,” he said.