CA organizing products into four brands

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) President and Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Kumar divulged more details of the company’s planned refocusing on six key development areas and said he plans to divide CA’s technologies into four branded product lines.

The information was delivered during an opening keynote speech at the company’s CA World exhibition in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month.

In early June, CA executives told analysts the company is concentrating on six core segments: security, storage, enterprise management, e-business integration tools, portals and knowledge management, and predictive analysis and visualization tools. Analysts hailed the news as a positive step for CA, saying it would bring much-needed clarity to CA’s business.

During his speech, Kumar took those plans one step further and said CA will align those six areas with four brands. “This is our way of responding to your concerns that we need to provide definition to our business and clarity about where we’re going,” he said.

Enterprise management will fall under CA’s flagship Unicenter software package, which has just been updated and re-released. Unicenter 3.0, formerly Unicenter TNG (The Next Generation), is more modular and flexible than previous versions and features a new GUI (graphical user interface), better out-of-the-box integration, better scalability, and more Web infrastructure management tools, Kumar said. (See accompanying story for more information on Unicenter 3.0).

CA’s storage products will be marketed under a new brand the company launched earlier this month, dubbed BrightStor.

CA is also overhauling its security products, grouping them together under the eTrust brand. At CA World, CA introduced a new public key infrastructure product and a Web access controls product that “will bridge powerful internal security with what customers are demanding externally,” Kumar said.

The company’s Jasmine brand, an extension of its Jasmine ii Portal product, will cover applications for portals, knowledge management, predictive analysis and visualization, Kumar said. He said Jasmine Portal technology will increasingly pervade CA’s portfolio of products, as will several of the company’s complementary knowledge management technologies.

“More and more of you as users will use technology that sits under portals. The portals will become your eyes to the computing world,” Kumar said.

He called CA’s Neugents neural network technology and other predictive tools the “secret sauce” powering the company’s products, and said they will work their way into more of the company’s software. Visualization features will also be increasingly embedded into CA products, Kumar said.

Throughout his speech, Kumar emphasized CA’s openness, cross-platform support, and platform agnosticism. In a question-and-answer session with press earlier in the day, he quipped, “Being Swiss is a very good thing,” – a reference to the position of neutrality held by Switzerland.

Kumar also took care to promote the image of CA as a good corporate citizen, highlighting its community involvement and progressive workforce policies and benefits. CA shareholder Sam Wyly, who has launched a proxy fight to replace CA’s board of directors and install himself as the company’s chairman, has harshly criticized CA’s management for what he sees as their harsh treatment of customers and employees.

The only reference to Wyly during Sunday’s keynote came during Chairman Charles Wang’s lengthy introduction to Kumar’s speech. Taking advantage of CA World’s presence in Orlando to draw comparisons between CA and the city’s most famous corporate resident, Wang commented, “CA and (The Walt) Disney (Co.) have a lot in common – and it’s not just because some guy in Texas has a Mickey Mouse plan for our company.”

During Sunday afternoon’s session with the press, Wang and Kumar were more blunt about Wyly’s takeover bid. “The timing of this is unfortunate,” Wang said. “We think it’s a big waste of time given what we have accomplished and given what we provide to our customers.”

“We don’t understand Wyly’s motives, other than money,” Kumar added. “His timing is extremely opportunistic, and I think it’s self-serving. It’s an unfair assault on our business and our customers.”

After Kumar’s keynote, attendees said the speech was informative but predictable.

“It was clear what he was going to say, and he said it,” said Computer Sciences Corp. Chief Architect John Williams.

“I’ve heard that sort of thing before. There was nothing unexpected,” agreed Jonathan Shennan, a veteran CA World attendee and employee of electricity transmission grid operator Transpower New Zealand Ltd.

Transpower uses CA’s Jasmine and Unicenter products. Shennan said he was at the conference to learn how his company can better leverage those products. “(Kumar) is an impressive speaker. He has a good vision,” he said. “It’s pretty much in line with what we’re thinking.”