CA expands its on-demand strategy

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) recently introduced new products aimed at helping customers allocate their computing resources according to seasonal requirements.

During a panel discussion at CA World 2003, the Islandia, N.Y.-based software vendor’s chairman and CEO Sanjay Kumar said dealing with the spiking and tailing of resource usage is one of the biggest problems customers face.

“Customers configure themselves to run at a much higher capacity” for peak processing, security and storage requirements, even though the business might only have one busy period during the year where those resources are really needed, Kumar said.

The “holy grail” for customers today is to be able to pay for what they really use, he said. Kumar added that CA’s approach is to enable customers to leverage their existing systems, using management solutions as a way to move toward an on-demand environment “reliably, efficiently and safely through automation,” instead of trying to achieve all of this manually.

To address these issues, CA unveiled a technology to discover and manage business processes, code-named Sonar, and four new solutions across its Unicenter, eTrust and BrightStor brands.

According to CA, Sonar can help users understand the on-demand infrastructure and its impact on the business through an agentless intelligence technology that can correlate business processes to the supporting IT assets. The technology provides root-cause analysis, assesses the business impact of an infrastructure failure, analyzes traffic on the network for inappropriate usage, pinpoints security issues and causes, and builds and updates maps of resources, explained Yogesh Gupta, CA’s senior vice-president and CTO.

In a separate interview, Michael Jaeger, director of marketing at CA’s office in Dusseldorf, Germany, said Sonar technology fits in with the principle of understanding business needs to dynamically align IT to the business. Pinpointing the assets – hardware, software, operating systems – in a company not only helps keep IT managers up to date with licence compliance and various product versions; it also makes it easier to trouble-shoot when a technical problem emerges.

“If you do not know what kind of assets you have in your infrastructure, it’s hard to solve problems,” Jaeger said. “Sonar helps you start where the pain is the biggest.”

The four new on-demand computing management solutions include: BrightStor Process Automation Manager, which automates the allocation and provisioning of storage resources across multiple platforms in response to business demands; eTrust Vulnerability Manager, an asset-based vulnerability management appliance that provides monitoring capabilities and security intelligence to automatically pinpoint vulnerabilities; Unicenter NSM Option for VMware Software, which monitors virtual machine environments on Intel-based Linux and Windows platforms and determines when additional resources are needed; and Unicenter NSM Dynamic Reconfiguration Option for managing and dynamically provisioning VMware virtual machines.

Akram Askoul, manager of client computing with the Ontario’s Region of Niagara, told ComputerWorld Canada that the Region is currently using another Web-based, on-demand-related solution, Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk. According to CA, this service desk solution informs support personnel about critical issues that require immediate attention and enables devices and applications to interact with the help desk in a proactive and automatic manner.

Askoul said the Region is now seriously looking at using CA’s portal technology in an on-demand context. It’s all part of being able to “utilize the technologies you have today without having to purchase modules from a lot of vendors,” or bring in new vendors altogether. In the public sector, control over IT costs stems from the need to be accountable to citizens, Askoul said.

“Taxpayers take a much more serious look at what their governments are spending,” and it is the job of the IT department in a region such as Niagara to “look at whether we are serving our citizens as best as we can without increasing costs and taxes.” On-demand computing, he said, will hopefully allow the Region to continue doing that.

Donald LeClair, divisional vice-president at CA’s office of the CTO, agreed that it was finances that first motivated customers to look into on-demand computing -“how to do more with less.” But the goal now is to move toward automated management, so that users can “relate the IT infrastructure to business processes, to be able to make intelligent decisions,” he told ComputerWorld Canada.

A connection to business processes is necessary before on-demand computing can become really valuable, LeClair added.

“If I don’t have a business context for automation, I might be able to get things done faster, but that might not necessarily be the right thing for my company.”

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