If it runs on electricity, somebody’s itching to network it.
That premise became startlingly clear to the 25,000 attendees of the recent CA World 2000 user conference in New Orleans. Apparently every conceivable sort of device can be networked (and then managed by Computer Associates International Inc. technology, of course) – from vending machines to refrigerators to vehicle fleets.
In fact, CA hosted a press conference aboard a massive Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ocean-going vessel that actually uses CA Unicenter TNG software to manage the Windows NT and Unix servers aboard the ship.
That’s where CA announced integration of its Unicenter TNG management platform with Salt Lake City, Utah-based emWare Inc.’s EMIT product. The EMIT software networks devices with embedded chips in building-automation equipment, manufacturing tools, energy management and security systems. Meanwhile, CA has joined about 25 vendors in the emWare-founded Extend The Internet (ETI) Alliance, which is reportedly committed to “extending the Internet to any device.”
emWare demonstrated networking and management of household appliances, such as microwaves and refrigerators, particularly to monitor the health of the equipment. That would make it possible to arrange for replacement of appliance parts before they even fail, according to Todd Rytting, emWare’s vice-president of technical services. Currently, a typical fridge repairperson needs an average of 1.5 visits to diagnose and correctly repair a problem with the correct parts, he said.
“We’re connecting any non-IT devices to the IT world,” noted Solbyung (Stella) Yoon, president of Toronto’s cStar Technologies Inc. cStar installs wireless communication devices in vending machines, although the wireless connection can be shared between machines in one vicinity, relaying information about machine temperatures, coinage or inventory levels over the electrical system. And CA has introduced what it calls the Unicenter TNG Optimal Vending Solution, to let vending machines act as nodes in a managed network for remote diagnostics, monitoring of inventory and real-time sales tracking.
Laurie Wood, Palm Inc.’s director of strategic alliances and business development, said Palm is working with CA in the “control and access area. How can we effectively control the deployment of these devices in an enterprise?” Indeed, last year CA extended its Unicenter TNG management environment to include Palm devices.
Wood said businesses must think about the security surrounding those devices and the information they represent. She noted there’s a concern that unauthorized people could pick up Palm devices and have access to corporate customer databases, for example. “The one thing that keeps business managers and executives up at night is the challenges around information.”
But while some companies are eyeing the management of portable and mobile devices, Dan McLean, network analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, suggested the most basic computer network management is still lacking at many corporations. In fact, he said more than 90 per cent of Canadian businesses don’t have any sort of proactive management system in place. At most companies, “management is really the idea of waiting for something to break, then going out and fixing it,” McLean said.
Meanwhile, many industry players are advocating standardized wireless solutions such as the Wireless Application Protocol. But in an exclusive interview, CA’s outspoken CEO, Charles Wang, scoffed at the notion that the industry would cohesively work with just one wireless standard. “Just like we have one electrical system, right?” he asked, pointing out that he has to carry a caseful of adapters as he travels around the world.
CA has a long history of expansion through acquisitions, the recent notable example being the US$4 million acquisition of Sterling Software Inc. – a move that should help solidify CA’s position in the portal market, according to Sanjay Kumar, CA’s president and COO. For instance, Sterling’s Eureka enterprise information portal software will be integrated with CA’s Neugent predictive business intelligence technology.
Other Sterling contributions are in the areas of data warehousing, storage and network management – for example, Alexandria, a high-end back-up and restore technology for Unix and NT. “It really strengthens CA’s position in the enterprise storage market,” said Nigel Turner, CA’s senior vice-president of mobility. He also pointed to Sterling’s Vantage, which allocates storage for OS/390, and the Lifeguard automated data back-up solution for remote/mobile PCs.
CA’s interBiz division announced shipment of the BizWorks ebusiness Intelligence Suite, meant to enable open and secure inter-business collaboration via the Internet, incorporating visualization and prediction technology (leveraging Neugents again). Bob Toth, senior vice-president of operations for InterBiz, said BizWorks “filters out the noise of too much information,” to let senior managers be presented with the right information to help them make decisions.
An IDC briefing paper says BizWorks “can collect and analyse business data from the various applications internally and externally in the organization in real time, predict business events based on historical data from various data sources, and contextually visualize the information for users.”
Myers Industries Inc., a Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer of plastic and rubber products, is using CA Unicenter TNG and plans to add back-office integration capabilities by adopting BizWorks. At CA World, Andrew Winer, Myers’s corporate systems and information manager, said the technology helps meet corporate goals to increase knowledge about company processes. “This allows us to achieve a higher utilization of our capacity on the shop floor,” he noted.
Alessandra Pinza, senior research analyst for International Data Corp. in Milan, numbered BizWorks among a number of “quite significant” expansions to CA’s platform. “In my opinion, it’s a good base for the future.”
Application Service Providers
CA seems firmly behind the advancement of the application service provider (ASP) market place. In fact, the company has directly partnered with various firms on a number of Asian ASP ventures, including a partnership with Acer in Taiwan.
At the show, CA announced a “strategic alliance” with Center 7, a Draper, Utah-based ASP. Center 7 will deliver Unicenter TNG and other products to worldwide customers through an ASP model. Center 7 also runs the Unicenter TNG Framework. “We eat it, we cook it and we serve it,” said Kelly Phillipps, Center 7 president and CEO. Regarding a successful ASP strategy, he noted: “The applications have to be customizable to meet specific needs of business, with safety first, then speed and cost.”
CA CEO Wang said ASPs need to offer secure, reliable and available data. However, he doesn’t think all companies will eventually outsource their technology. “Some will and some won’t,” he said. But he warned that businesses should evaluate the competitive advantages of the new technology, because “the world is changing faster than ever before.”
Grace Casselman is a Calgary-based journalist who specializes in technology and business reporting. Her Web site is at www.casselman.net.
Wang: trying to make the road safer
Charles Wang, the chairman and CEO of Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc. (CA), has reportedly met with U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss computer security issues. Wang said he talked to Clinton about how denial-of-service attacks often go through computer systems at government organizations or universities.
He added: “It sets a bad example to have the FBI site come down.”
Internet security can’t get in the way of doing business, but it’s all about “trying to make the road safer,” Wang said. For instance, he said, when the first cars were built, there was no need to worry about stop signs or traffic lights because you could see everything coming. Now the challenge is to set the rules, he said, without slowing growth.
“If you have a hole in the wall, an army can slip through. They’re just going to walk right in,” added Sanjay Kumar, CA president and COO. “At the end of the day, security is the linchpin that holds all this (e-business) stuff together.”
He said CA doesn’t believe encryption should be the key defence in security. Rather, he advocates “trust management” with the use of certification.
– Grace Casselman