CA To Overhaul Branding, Launch Access Tools

In an effort to deliver a more cohesive marketing message and clear up customer confusion, Computer Associates on the 26th will announce plans to overhaul the branding strategy for a large portion of its product line.

In an effort to deliver a more cohesive marketing message and clear up customer confusion, Computer Associates International Inc. on the 26th will announce a plan to overhaul the branding strategy for a large portion of its product line, according to sources.

CA, based in Islandia, N.Y., will dissolve the Jasmine product group and the products in that family will now fall under the vendors ADvantage group; the Jasmine name will remain as the moniker for the original Jasmine object-oriented database.

The companys data management and application development products will be re-branded with the AllFusion name and all of CAs portal and business intelligence solutions will fall under the CleverPath name.

The BrightStor, eTrust and Unicenter brands will continue.

Sources familiar with the plan said the decision to re-brand much of the product line was driven by customers who have complained the companys dizzying array of products and categories were baffling.

"CA has over 1,200 products and no focus," said one source familiar with the new strategy. "They wanted to clear up what CA was. Customers were confused."

CA officials declined to comment.

CA, which by most accounts has the largest product line in the software industry, has always struggled with its marketing and branding efforts. The company obtained the majority of its products through acquisitions, which has only served to confuse matters further as the company tried to assimilate them into its portfolio.

"Jasmine branding has been very confusing for some time. We think its good theyll save that [name] for the object relational database," said Betsy Burton, vice president at Gartner Inc., in San Jose, Calif.

"CA hasnt come up with a corporate strategy that reconciles their products. They are still point solutions," she added. "Until they are able to really solve that problem, they wont be able to make the transition into being a powerhouse vendor. The big challenge is that they have to figure out how to market themselves as a company with a clear market focus."

In addition to the branding strategy, CA is also planning two new product announcements in the coming weeks. It will introduce a new digital-rights management product called Advanced Content Manager, which has been ready for release for some time, but lacked a big-name customer to complement the rollout.

Also forthcoming is the general-availability release of Web Access Control, a single sign-on tool for Web-enabled applications, sources said. The new software includes support for PKI systems as well as some biometric devices.

On the storage front, CA plans to re-brand its Lifeguard backup tool BrightStor Mobile Backup. CA is also planning a major announcement of management software for storage-area networking, but the timeframe for that and for storage virtualization products is unclear. It will likely be later this year or early next year, sources said.

The Jasmine name change shouldnt be a CA priority, said Mario Soberal, CTO of MBIA MuniServices Inc. in Fresno, Calif. "Naming conventions dont mean much to me," he said. "I look at the product."

Conversely, Soberal said, the forthcoming storage products are essential. MBIA runs about three terabytes of data on network-attached storage units from Network Appliance Inc., accessed by 160 clients through a Web interface. "Theres no tools right now that really manage that well, you do it in sort of a seat-of-your-pants kind of thing," he said. Seeking a vendor with such tools, whether its CA or someone else, is "probably our next step as we get larger," he said.

With CAs backup software, he added, the name still doesnt mean much. CA should instead work on improving its compression technology, "so we dont spend so much time and effort in the tape swapping," he said.

CA officials said in July that BrightStor backup tools would also work with EMC Corp.s Fastrax and TimeFinder products. However, EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., has since released its own management software, AutoIS, and has already shared programming interfaces with Compaq Computer Corp. EMC officials have said that API sharing will be an ongoing process and that backup technology is one of the few things they may not do in-house, so its possible CA and EMC could expand their partnership, industry analysts speculated.