Computer Associates launched a baker’s dozen of software product improvements this week along with a proposal for approaching IT management that sounds a lot like a well-known manufacturing methodology.
The Islandia, NY-based applications firm has made enhancements to its Wily Application Performance Management, service management and workload automation tools, among several others. The 13 releases also included updated versions of its business continuity, project and portfolio management software.
CA is promoting its products by using the tagline “Lean IT,” which it describes as a way to cut costs, increase productivity and reduce waste in enterprise environments. The concept of “lean” is best known in supply chain circles as a production practice that considers it wasteful to use any resources in any way other than pleasing customers.
Jimmy Fulton, CA Canada’s country manager, said the Lean IT concept is intended to bring a similar sense of just-in-time efficiency to technology management.
“What we’re doing is not revolutionary anymore,” he said. “It takes technology to monitor inventories, demand, to monitor each of the steps of the production process. IT should be subject to the same kind of discipline, rigour and benefits.”
Wily Application Performance Management, for instance, has been changed so that any transactions across legacy or service-oriented architecture environments can be easily monitored for potential problems. CA said the software will show the real-time health of an application and whether any issues with it are affecting the bottom line or customer service.
Fulton made a direct correlation between managing application performance and securing enterprise infrastructure.
“The most critical applications have some or most of its infrastructure relating to the Web,” he said, pointing to Canada Post as one of the company’s marquee customers here. “Security is one of its largest areas of growth in fiscal 09.”
Application performance management is emerging as a hot area. HP recently announced updates to its Assessment Management Platform, for example, which also scans corporate software for quality issues. James Quin, an analyst with Info-Tech Research, pointed out that although network monitoring tools already exist, they tend to look for inappropriate traffic and track it back to the signatures it knows. Such products don’t look at application vulnerabilities, which is why more firms are looking for something to test and monitor at the software level.
“The idea is before I throw something into production I’m going to knock the snot out of it with this tool, as it were, to make sure there are no vulnerabilities.”
Jasmine Noel, an analyst with Ptack, Noel and Associates in New York, said the CA products are focused on making it easier to strive for better IT management even as newer technologies like SOA and virtualization crop up.
“I think CIOs have been headed down this road for a while; it’s just that new technology keeps throwing roadblocks in the way,” she said. “I think what CA is trying to do with Lean IT is make it easier to deal with the roadblocks so that CIOs can floor the accelerator.”
CA has been working on a comeback after accounting scandals involving its most senior executives made it a poster child for poor governance. Where some might have questioned CA’s viability over the last few years, Fulton suggested the company was among the few stable vendor partners for IT managers and CIOs.
“What I love the most about CA is it’s not changing. Among other vendors, the trend is to have a message du jour. That can no longer be said of CA,” he said, noting the recent consolidation among software titans like Oracle with systems companies such as Sun Microsystems. “CA has stayed its course on just software, not servers and software.”
Noel agreed. “CA’s solutions manage infrastructure regardless of where it comes from, so customers can be sure that CA has no hardware or application platform agenda,” she said. “As long as enterprise IT continues to buy infrastructure from several vendors there should be a place for CA to compete.”
CA also said process changes and service provisioning will be sped up in its service catalogue, expanded asset inventories in its IT Client Manager and a unified view of planned or detected changes in its service desk software.
Meanwhile, CA plans to offer one-day seminars on Lean IT with key customers and a series of half-day seminars around the world with industry analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester, but Fulton said CA Canada was focusing on attending targeted third-party events like the recent B.C. CIO Executive Summit.