Security, Storage and Survival

eLABorations: Reporter's Notebook: CA World was all about the customer, but can the love outlast a sluggish economy?

If you are a Computer Associates customer, I want to hear from you. Thats because CA is following your money and I want to know if it is really doing the right thing.

Its clear from four days of interviewing, attending press conferences and lurking in tech sessions that CA is putting security and storage products front and center and loading them with portal capabilities and Web services.

Last year, CA regrouped its products into six brands and broke up its Unicenter TNG monolith into tens of different point products that all sit on top of a Common Services agent. From a marketing point of view it makes sense, and it also seems to work from a technology standpoint. But as almost innumerable CA execs told me earlier this week, "Were in business to make money," and for six consecutive quarters, CA hasnt.

So, CA customers, the three-part question is: Is the company doing what it takes; is there something that CA is missing, or is it just the economy? In many respects, I think it is the economy. As a reporter, Ive been to my share of big company shows this year, and the image Im forming is that of a bunch of prize fighters whove taken four rounds of heavy beatings and have nothing but five more to look forward to. CA is still standing, which makes me want to know what you, the customer thinks of the company.

Its hard to be around CA and not hear incessantly about you, the customer. CA loves you, or at least it loves your money. Your needs are its priority. You have but to ask (and flash a lot of the green stuff) and CA will do your bidding. Theoretically, everything I saw--from portal technology to employee provisioning to database management to the pepped-up (and chopped-up) Unicenter--was done in your name.

So, if youre a CA user with a story to tell, Id like to hear it. Tell me if the company is really doing everything it can, or better yet, what it can and should do better. Now is the time to speak, or forever hold your peace.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at

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