Computer Associates pushes partnering program

Computer Associates International Inc. continues to work on boosting its technology lineup and gaining a competitive edge through partnerships. To that end, the company plans to increase online support for technology partners by year’s end and create a partner advisory board next year.

Additionally, the Islandia, N.Y.-based software maker last week detailed some of the success stories of its year-old CA Smart Solution certification process.

The program ensures that companies that sell their hardware and software along with CA products are fully certified for interoperability and have adequate technical support from CA. About half of the approximately 300 CA Smart Solution partners have already received the certification, and CA hopes to get the remainder on board in the next three months.

Holdout companies, however, are in jeopardy of losing their partner status, according to Stacy Leader, vice-president of the partner program. “We are re-evaluating where we are and then will be moving forward and either decide to partner with them or keep their name on file,” Leader said. “They will either jump on the train with us or part ways.”

Leader said last year’s CA Smart Solution announcement represented a turnaround for the company. At the time, CA said that, instead of acquiring other companies, it would rely on partners to fill gaps in its technology lineup.

CA will continue to enhance the program. The company plans to add more online technical support for partners and create a partner advisory board within the next year.

CA’s Smart Solution initiative is to some degree addressing long-term weaknesses in CA’s partnering strategy, according to James Governor, an analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based consultancy Illuminata Inc.

“Historically, partnering has not exactly been what you would call a core competency” of CA, said Governor. While CA traditionally has been a direct sales firm, the Smart Solution program “shows a systematic attention to partnering that CA has sometimes lacked,” he added.

However, in terms of channel support, CA’s competitors generally offer something similar for their partners, said Governor. For example, Microsoft Corp. just announced a US$500 million boost to its channel marketing budget

Among the companies that have bought products from CA-certified partners is Party City Corp. in Rockaway, N.J. Party City uses CA partner G&Z Systems Inc.’s PollView data transportation management application, which ties into the party supply retailer’s Unicenter installation.

According to Richard Zuckerman, president of Hawthorn, N.Y.-based G&Z, having the certification, which his company received last month, allows customers to feel more comfortable with the idea of going to third-party providers.