CA to Put Out Quick Integrated Releases

Users say the move makes sense but the proof will be in the pudding.

Now that its wrapped up the big integration work with its major R11 releases, CA plans quick integration releases to capitalize on the common services exploited by the R11 releases.

The first quick release involves the combination of CAs Service Desk and Harvest change management software and initial integration of the Niku Clarity project portfolio management software that CA acquired last summer.

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The combination of the three applications is intended to bring coherence to life cycle management of IT resources and automate the steps required to resolve the problem and close out a trouble ticket. If the required fix includes changes to application code, that change is part of the automated workflow.

"A developer is working, and suddenly a project shows up and [the system] says, Put that on hold and work on this. When that change is done, we go to [the] service desk and close the issue," said Jacob Lamm, general manager of CAs Business Service Optimization unit, in Islandia, N.Y.

"It makes perfect sense. Ive been waiting for them to do this," said Chip Gliedman, an analyst at Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass. "The outcome of a problem is a change request. As systems or people have issues, someone has to diagnose [them and] put through the changes to configuration, which means making code changes, scheduling them and putting them out there," Gliedman said.

Along with those tasks are scheduled enhancements that need to be bundled and released, as well as business strategy and prioritizing to provide the best business value with the available resources, he said.

Apparently, a few current CA change management users have been waiting for this integration as well, according to Ross Markley, president of Life Cycle Management Consulting Services as well as the Life Cycle Management User Group, in Tampa, Fla.

"This news will [resonate] with the users. It will make their [IT] shops run better with less human involvement and more automation," Markley said. Markley helped form the 132-member user group, which is focused on the integration of CAs mainframe and distributed systems change management products.

Other CA Service Desk users were less enthusiastic. "The integration is a nice feature, but its not the only reason Im buying [project portfolio management] software," said Harry Butler, support center manager at EFW, in Fort Worth, Texas. Butler said he is evaluating a similar offering from Pacific Edge Software as EFW looks "for ways to improve our business and monitor and maintain costs."

The integration of the three offerings from CA is available now. But it could take users as long as six months to implement the combined integrated offerings, Markley said. "Its a tricky challenge. It has to be thought out and implemented correctly [to yield productivity savings]," he said.

CA is also moving forward with its business service optimization strategy on other fronts. As competition heats up among the four major enterprise management providers around CMDBs (configuration management databases), CA this summer will offer a version of CMDB unbundled from its Service Desk suite.

CA was driven by customers and the market to make the CMDB available separately to allow an "apples-to-apples" comparison with competing CMDBs as well as allow prospective customers to "leverage existing investments in other products," said Lamm.

The unbundling could also be CAs response to a competitive threat from rival BMC Software, which hopes to establish its own CMDB as an industry standard, according to Gliedman.

"The CMDB has no value on its own, but having it separated from other tools allows a company to put that in and use it as a repository for multiple applications," Gliedman said.

Despite CAs efforts to build momentum on the strength of its integration efforts, the company cant seem to put its troubles behind it.

Last week, Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis announced his departure, following the announced departures of Chief Technology Officer Mark Barrenechea and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke. While Clarke and Barrenechea both left to pursue new career opportunities, no reason was stated for Davis departure.

In late April, the company said it would not meet its earlier revenue or earnings estimates.

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