In the year since Computer Associates International Inc. first canceled, then reinstated and then delayed its user conference, the company has been working not only on its tarnished corporate image but also on ways to integrate a complex lineup of disparate products.
The CA World conference in Las Vegas next week will be the showcase for the long-awaited Unicenter Release 11, which brings CA squarely into the IT Infrastructure Library world with the addition of a common configuration management database, according to early users of the technology.
A long list of Unicenter tools have been updated in R11 to exploit the new management database, and CAs BrightStor storage line also uses the MDB. In addition, eTrust security products are slated to use the MDB beginning next year, beta testers said.
The database is unique in the more monolithic approach it takes, rather than the federated approaches competitors such as BMC Software Inc. and IBM have taken, according to observers familiar with the new MDB.
"Its not federated, and theyre putting in more than just configuration items and relationship dependencies. This will include performance data," said Ray Paquet, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Lowell, Mass.
But the database is open and extensible, allowing users and integrators to customize it to bring in other data. Third-party applications will be able to integrate with it as well.
"The schema will be extensible so you can add things to it. It will be fairly easy to modify the database," said Unicenter user Karl Jackson, infrastructure engineer at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.
The MDB, acting as the integration point for all Unicenter applications, enables the kind of real integration users are looking for, according to beta tester Harry Butler, support center manager for EFW Inc., in Fort Worth, Texas.
"To me, using the same database and not having to have multiple databases to maintain is integration. Thats one benefit of R11—using one configuration management database and everything feeds into it. R11 of [Unicenter] Service Desk, R11 for the [Unicenter Network and Systems] feeds into it. Its going to be a complete thing," Butler said.
Other common services in the rearchitected Unicenter include a common workflow engine as well as continuous discovery and predictive capabilities through the Sonar technology CA acquired when it bought SilentRunner Inc. in 2003.
"It can find usage and utilization using a mathematical formula based on call volumes. It looks at blocks of time and anticipates when those predictable patterns will recur," Butler said. "Sometimes its accurate and sometimes its totally off the wall. It tries to predict those patterns for you so you can staff accordingly. The longer its running, the better the predictability is."
Also on tap for CA World are new capabilities culled from CAs iCanSP suite of products, including service catalog, service metering, service management and service provisioning. These capabilities are aimed at bringing a service-provider mentality to IT, according to one source briefed on the news, who asked not to be named. CA will also provide more detailed road maps on its integration plans for technology acquired from Concord Communications Inc. in June.
"CA will make major announcements at CA World on our vision for enterprise IT management and the solutions that support it. Officially, we have no additional comment," said a CA official.