LAS VEGAS—CA Technologies isn’t one of those companies mentioned often in cocktail conversations. When someone asks what exactly CA does, even longtime employees have to stop, take a sip from a drink, and think for a minute before carefully offering an answer.
Some folks familiar with the company roll their eyes when the name comes up. CA, a survivor of 40 years in the business—a veritable millennium in IT time—isn’t known for making headlines in innovation sections of tech magazines. It is a steady performer with a widespread installed base, and while it may not be flashy, it is experienced in problem solving. Please note: Boards of directors who spend lots of money on IT systems like steady, experienced and dependable.
CA could use an accurate descriptor. Unless you’re downloading or installing a function, software is taken for granted; the code gets loaded, the icon hangs around until you need it, then the app does its chore. That’s the nature of the business. But this is a company that often gets lost in the marketing noise, which is exceedingly easy to do in the spinning-turnstile world of tech.
Point-of-Service Transactions Touch CA’s Software
For example, when you swipe your credit card at a payment location, you’re most likely hitting a mainframe somewhere in the world with CA’s software that connects the dots for that transaction. The user sees Wells Fargo and Visa, for example, but certainly not CA, which is providing the handshake and perhaps the security authorization for the purchase.
CA also makes development and testing tools so that banking software works correctly every time you want to use a credit card. It develops high-end security authentication middleware and has an agile DevOps platform for new-gen software development. It has a highly successful API (application programming interface) products and services division. It has provided mainframe software for IBM z Systems and others for decades. All of these are important but not easily understood, thus they’re often overlooked.
So CA, a veteran company that is in the early stages of a rebirth, is abundant with software only techies will ever know about. Still, it would be beneficial if it had a tagline to help identify it to the world at large.
To try and determine one, let’s start with a few facts: CA is both a coach and a player in enterprise application and infrastructure development; it offers real-time products and services in addition to instruction and consulting in the same areas, based on more than a generation of real-world IT experience.
It is an enterprise platform enabler, a provider of agile developer tools, a distributor of new-gen software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, an API manager for all kinds of use cases, and a respected security authentication market player. It’s also moving briskly into the big data management category.
Architect of the Application Economy?
CA World ’15, which attracted an international audience of about 5,000 (up 25 percent over last year; 45 percent of whom were new attendees) last week at Mandalay Bay, was all about how the software-making world is being uprooted and replanted by new techniques. These all revolve around speed, automation, security and rapid iteration—attributes CA is now baking into all of its products.
In its own way, with all its new tools and services, CA has rebounded from an old-school approach to become an important potential architect of the application economy.
Every developer in every division of CA is creating, testing and deploying its software in an agile, continuous-delivery methodology, new CEO Mike Gregoire told eWEEK. They’re also looking at how to insert analytics capabilities into as many corners of the apps as possible.
CA bought Rally Software earlier this year for $480 million for its agile big data development platform, considered by many people as one of the best independent products of its kind in the business.
“If you want to take a look at what every forward-thinking company has got going, right now in their R&D lab, they’re taking analytics a step further: They’re getting into cognitive and machine learning,” Gregoire, who took over as CEO in early 2013, said. “We tie those two things together; that’s what you’re going to see in systems of the future.”
“The whole way you interface with a system that is cognitively aware and has a machine-learning component—which means it gets smarter as it gets more data—is going to be incredibly different for us three years from now. I don’t know of any of our competitors on the higher end that aren’t spending time and energy on those two things. We’re obviously spending a lot of time and energy on those things as well.”
Why CA Technologies Appears Well Set for Mainstream IoT
Why CA Appears Well Set Up for the IoT
The Internet of things is all about continuous delivery, rapid iteration of new and updated software. CA appears ready for that product demand. The API business is another one the New York-based company is banking on for the long term, precisely because all those sensors, all those IT handshakes to be made, and all those devices yet uninvented will need APIs to connect them, and an API management platform to make them work optimally. Thus, the coming of the mainstream IoT bodes well for CA Technologies, which has one of the busiest API products-and-service divisions in the business.
Most of this new development will be in mobile applications. CA acquired Layer 7 in 2013 for its mobile API gateway, which secures and manages enterprise-level mobile APIs. At CA World ’15, the company launched a new Live API Creator using the Layer 7 know-how that provides fast access to databases and enables network administrators to stand up a mobile app and deploy it in a mere few minutes. The demo at the conference was one of the most popular of the event.
“Our APIs management tools are core IP for us,” Tyson Whitten, CA’s director of API management product marketing, told eWEEK. “Our mobile app API services use message querying and are all about engagement in the form of SDKs software development kits). Those who might be interested should check out our site on Github.”
CA’s Mobile API Gateway empowers enterprises to safely and reliably externalize legacy systems in mobile-ready formats and make it easy for developers to apply strong security to their apps, among other features.
Having the API management and agile development tools already in place gives CA a one-up on most other competitors when it comes to developing apps to use in the IoT.
Go here to see a video and obtain links to more resources regarding CA and its strategy to provide software for IoT-related devices and microservices.
Security Another Major Component
Finally, the IoT is also about improving the security of all these transactions, and CA has an app for that, too. The company bought a hot 70-person startup, Xceedium, last August for its privilege access management system, which is already at work in a number of federal government agencies (including the Department of Homeland Security) and Fortune 2000 companies.
“The OPM [the federal Office of Personnel Management], which was widely reported and clearly the biggest breach in human history [with more than 4 million personal records stolen last June], came to us afterwards,” Mo Rosen, CA vice president of product management and strategy for privileged access management, who was COO at Xceedium, told eWEEK. “All data breaches happen through using stolen privilege access, we’re convinced of that.
“These large, high-profile breaches change the world for everybody. Our product is a next-generation product primarily focused on securing and auditing all privileged accounts, and securing and auditing the activity of all privileged users, because these are the guys who have keys to the kingdom. They have access to everyplace.
“Every breach you have ever read about, always involves—at some point in time in the kill chain—the elevation of privilege and the compromise of a privileged account. Every one you’ve ever heard,” Rosen said.
The big breaches are mostly about stealing credentials from network administrators, Rosen said. These are what Xceedium’s secret-sauce platform is designed to monitor and protect.
In summary, CA’s main program areas are these: agile development, API management, identity-centric security, mainframes and DevOps. The company now needs to execute efficiently against a bevy of tough competitors in the new application economy.