CA Commits to Enterprise IT Management

Q&A: The company rolls out 26 Unicenter R11 offerings, utilizing its common services integration platform.


CA, the company formerly known as Computer Associates International Inc., formally launched its Enterprise IT Management initiative at CA World in Las Vegas earlier this month.

This bet-the-business initiative included the rollout of some 26 enhanced Unicenter offerings that exploit CAs common services integration platform, as well as three new products.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about CAs new Enterprise IT Management initiative.

The services include a common user interface; common workflows; a universal Management Database, or MDB; and shared policies. The introduction was the biggest in CAs history, officials said.

To get a better idea of how extensively the new Unicenter R11 versions exploit the platform and what the migration effort will be like, eWEEK Senior Editor Paula Musich talked with CA Chief Technology Officer Yogesh Gupta.

How complete is the integration of the 26 new releases with the common services platform?

They are as complete as is appropriate for them. Every product has the same user interface and look and feel. MDB use depends on what type of data they are keeping. Event managers use the MDB for availability data, state changes and so on, but they dont keep event data. The workflow engine has a Web services workflow engine combined with other pieces so that you can do any workflow you want to do. The 26 do leverage the workflow.

[The new Unicenter] Asset Intelligence and Service Intelligence look at the information and make it meaningful and understandable: for example, which PCs are running operating systems that are out of compliance with policy. They dont participate in the workflow. There are a total of 86 products that participate in this. Unicenter Service Desk R11 has a complete Web services interface that we call "service-aware." We took 40 products and made them service-aware.

This sounds a lot like the old enterprise management frameworks that were so hard to implement. How is it different?

It doesnt require the customer to buy it all. They can start small and build. The integration platform isnt one big monolithic thing. We used [service-oriented architecture] for all the products. It is a challenge for us to show the world how it is different. The fact that the products deploy on the services they need, are modular, are based on SOA [service-oriented architecture], is very different technologically and implementation-wise than the frameworks were.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Unicenter R11 as shown at CA World.

With such a radically different new architecture, how difficult will the migration be for existing users?

We built a lot of migration tools to automate taking data from existing CA products and bring it into R11. That includes asset data, service desk information. We wrote the translation. We have a product today for data extraction and loading. We use that as part of the automated tool we built. Its not 100 percent automated, but for many products we migrated everything. Historically, what its taken [to migrate] in the industry has been hard. This will be the easiest upgrade people will see with CA products.

The MDB sounds very much like the configuration management databases competitors such as IBM and BMC [Software Inc.] are creating. Theyre taking a federated approach because they believe its the only way to scale. Is CAs single MDB really scalable?

The MDB is broader in scope than a CMDB. CMDBs dont have information about users, policies, state, performance, usage. The MDB is a superset of a CMDB. The intent is to be a complete management database. Then the question is, Whats the right way to do it?

It is comprehensive and real-time. Were building real-time links that bring the data inside and keep it current. That is the value of the connectors we are building. But those are a work in progress. [Microsoft Corp.s Systems Management Server] is one [connector] we are building. Other connectors we could build are BMC with Remedy, IBM with the [Tivoli Enterprise Console], [Hewlett-Packard Co.] with OpenView and Peregrine Systems Inc., and [Symantec Corp.]. Those are the obvious ones.

We have started others besides SMS. We tested the MDB with larger asset repositories than any repositories our customers have. We tested it with 10,000 service desk analysts.

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