CA lays Web services tracks

Spearheaded by cross-product line integration enhancements to its CleverPath portal, Computer Associates International Inc. continues its campaign to meld Web services into the future of IT systems management.

Attempting to meet demand for Web services-based systems management tools, the announcements build on plans CA revealed in November 2001 to consolidate its entire product range under six headings – systems management, storage, security, application development life cycle, data management, and portals.

A key component underpinning this strategy is a thin layer of integration software – called Common Services – that ties together these product streams. Common Services is comprised of CA’s Advantage integration server, and contains discovery, event management, messaging, and common communication interface, an underlying agent technology infrastructure, and a common object repository features.

“CleverPath 4.0 will consume Web services automatically. This portal will represent Web services [for CA and its customers],” said Yogesh Gupta, CA’s CTO.

“You point [CleverPath 4.0] to the URL of a Web service and it automatically generates a portal, and you have a complete user interface for [managing] Web services.”

CleverPath also features wireless infrastructure support, giving IT executives the ability to tweak a Web service, publish it to a customized portal via a handheld device, and deploy it, Gupta said.

Meanwhile, CA has plans to transform the gamut of its business intelligence solutions, including Neugents, into a Web services personalization engine to be delivered for Microsoft .Net and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) environments.

CA’s application lifecycle brand, AllFusion, will also fit into this plan, serving as the product line to model and build Web services for customers step-by-step.

In addition, the Islandia, N.Y.-based company will include wireless infrastructure support for the Unicenter network management platform.

Sanjay Kumar, CA president and CEO, said that the portal push includes the creation of integrated stand-alone storage and security Web portals to be introduced at CA World.

CA will meld its eTrust security and BrightStor storage management offering with third-party vendor solutions and Web services.

The BrightStor portal will address storage resource utilization and optimization management to help stabilize complex SANs (storage area networks), third-party equipment, and data backup.

“Customers today are focused on managing storage in bits and pieces, and I think they’re tired of that,” Kumar said. “The slowdown in the economy has forced customers to look at spending and has forced more integration out of the box.”

Kumar said management software must be able to learn more about an environment automatically, yet exist in smaller chunks to deploy.

“Since CA has done so much work to tie their technology together to make it loosely coupled or tightly tied, they’re in a good architectural position to take this on without dismantling everything,” commented Valerie O’Connell, managing director of enterprise systems management at Boston-based Aberdeen Group Inc.

CA’s drive to use Web services to unify its products comes as the company enters its second CA World under a cloud formed by persistent inquiries by the Security and Exchanges Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office over counting revenues for multiyear software licensing agreements.

Compiling its problems, the company spent much of last year battling Texas billionaire Sam Wyly’s defeated proxy fight to oust Kumar and CA chairman Charles Wang.

Kumar conceded that the experience has taught the organization it needs to work harder to communicate and articulate with customers about sales, customer support, and R&D efforts.

“We’re telling [sales people 20 per cent] of their compensation will be held until [customers] come back and say they’re happy. That’s a big change,” Kumar noted.

Perhaps not surprising then will be CA’s announcement next week of CustomerConnect, a Web service designed to initiate customer support, field billing, and contact name and address information to provide a breakdown of the customized CA relationship.

CustomerConnect is the enterprise version of an internal application CA has built called ServiScope – a Web services-based tool that weaves together disparate applications and services using SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) behind the CleverPath portal interface.

In conjunction with a subscription-based pricing option, CA is hoping CustomerConnect will improve its customer satisfaction ratings, Gupta said.

One customer watching CA closely is Ty Holden, IT security manager at Golden, Colo.-based Coors Brewing, who said his company had a rocky seven-year relationship with CA until recently.

“We got software we couldn’t use and felt like we were getting shoddy treatment,” Holden said.

Holden said CA has improved in areas such as offering application support for its CCCHarvest change control solutions and eTrust security products and providing credits for dated, unused software.

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