Canadian users not affected by CA moves

Despite the recent news that Computer Associates International Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer Sanjay Kumar will step down, Canadian CA customers are putting on a brave face.

The Islandia, N.Y.-based company has admitted to booking revenue prior to contracts being finalized in order to inflate its quarterly results. This has resulted in criminal charges against the company’s former CFO and a number of his deputies.

CA has since been cleaning house — more than a dozen execs have left the company in the last six months — as it tries to distance itself from years of questions and investigations into its accounting methods, which were put in place before it changed its business model in November 2000 to one that’s subscription-based.

According to Zahid Kamal, a member of the Toronto Area Computer Associates Modeling User Group, the announcement of Kumar’s departure would have a minor — if any — impact in the short term on the group’s overall health.

“I can see in the long run there is a chance of shifting policies, up or down, on how to better approach the CA customer base and power users within Canada,” Kamal said.

Laura Rochon, an international chair of the Quebec-based CA user group Information Users Association (IUA), noted in an e-mail that she “is sad to see Sanjay Kumar step down as CEO.”

The IUA is an independent user group for CA’s CA-IDMS database management and application deployment software products. Kumar believed in and supported user groups and the IUA enjoyed a partnership with CA, Rochon continued, adding “the IUA looks forward to meeting the new CEO.”

That sentiment was echoed by a spokesperson for Toronto-based CA customer Rogers Wireless Communications Inc.

In an e-mail, the spokesperson for the mobile wireless service provider noted that the firm’s technological direction had never been affected by previous CA management shuffles and hence, “there is no perceived impact from the current management changes.”

CA products will continue to deliver value, said Clark Ammons, production and systems manager of information systems at Washington University in St. Louis. “We purchase the product and not the people behind the product,” he said. “There is a lot of thought and review process before there is ever a purchase done from any company.”

Paul Francis, senior manager of systems security at Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. in West Bridgewater, Mass., said he doesn’t expect any negative repercussions. “There’s a good management team in place. I don’t expect any disruption.” Shaw’s uses CA’s eTrust software.

CA recently named former Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) global operations head Jeff Clarke as its executive vice-president and chief financial officer. It then appointed board member Kenneth Cron its interim chief executive officer and quickly promoted Clarke to chief operating officer.

At the Canadian level, according to Warren Shiau, software analyst for IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, this news would not have any effect on CA’s leadership or sales teams. CA is set up in such a way that each product line is managed by a brand executive who oversees development, and that team remains in place.

The accounting issues don’t affect CA product development plans or its ongoing business ability, he added. “It is unlikely there will be any major impact here,” Shiau said. “It probably isn’t a big issue for CA users, except where they might have a direct account relationship with Kumar.”

But Sherry Irwin, chairman of the Canadian Software Asset Management Users’ Group in Toronto, expressed concern that Kumar’s departure from the helm could jeopardize the improvements he made in customer relations after he became CEO in 2000.

According to Mark Barren-echea, CA’s senior vice-president of product development, Kumar will remain at the forefront of building customer satisfaction in the newly created position of chief software architect. Asked why users shouldn’t be concerned that CA might slide back into its old ways with Kumar out of the CEO’s office, Barrenechea stressed that Kumar’s presence will continue to be felt.

So far, most users appear to be comfortable with that.

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