On-Demand Road Map

CA backs up its vision with products based on Unicenter.

Sanjay Kumar
Computer Associates International Inc. last week outlined its vision for on-demand computing and put products behind it. Unlike platform providers, with strategies centered on hardware, CA waited to be able to deliver functionality before launching its campaign, according to Sanjay Kumar (pictured), chairman and CEO of the Islandia, N.Y., company.

"We decided a year ago to start on this, but we wanted to have products to show. We have taken the first steps. The platform guys—IBM, Sun [Microsystems Inc.] and [Hewlett-Packard Co.]—talked about [utility computing], but they had no products and no road map," said Kumar in an interview here.

CAs Unicenter is at the heart of the companys strategy. CA introduced six new or enhanced Unicenter offerings that support its vision, in which "resources can be managed on demand beyond the enterprise in a loosely knit grid of computing power," Kumar said.

Unicenter Network and Systems Management 3.1 adds the ability to dynamically discover and map IP resources to the business functions they support. In the new release, maps are updated as changes are made to the networked environment. New data integration services in the Unicenter monitoring tool allow it to access and aggregate management data from multiple sources, such as BMC Software Inc.s Patrol application performance management software or Cisco Systems Inc.s CiscoWorks router management software.

"Auto-discovery allows us to map these views to our customers business with no user intervention, and well be able to detect software configuration problems from a single location," said Unicenter user George Fiedorowicz, vice president of technology operations at Concord EFS Inc., in Memphis, Tenn.

CA added a new Unicenter NSM Dynamic Reconfiguration Option, which allows users to monitor business service levels, anticipate the need to boost performance and trigger allocation of more capacity.

Such capability wont work with applications that cannot deal with multiple instances of themselves, Kumar said, although most enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and other enterprise applications can do so. In addition, applications that exclusively own the data, which cant be shared with other applications, wont be supported.

But generic services such as file and print services or storage area networks can be addressed, along with Web-services-enabled applications, Kumar said. "Its the generic computing capability where the vision starts," he said.

CA also announced Version 3.0 of its Unicenter Management for WebMethods, which also works with Unicenter NSM to dynamically link applications and infrastructure components with the business processes they support.

Version 4.0 of the Unicenter Software Delivery electronic distribution tool can distribute applications and operating systems that automate provisioning and reallocate resources based on fluctuating demand. It also manages software interdependencies to better support on-demand infrastructure functions.

Unicenter Asset Management 4.0 can present an accurate representation of multidimensional software and hardware assets.

Finally, Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk 6.0 brings self-management to devices and applications under the control of third-party tools by allowing those elements to automatically interact with the help desk.

The platform-independent CA pitched the idea of using IT management to achieve the goals of on-demand or utility computing, which include the ability to dynamically allocate computing resources with changing business requirements, and at the same time increase the efficiency with which those resources are used. Others advocate an "overhaul of existing equipment," Kumar said.

"The need for on-demand computing is clear. Resource utilization of IT systems is really low. Most computing environments are overengineered to meet peak demands. Whats missing is the efficient management of those resources," Kumar said in a speech here.

The benefit to customers is the re-alignment of IT with the business, greater IT responsiveness and greater IT efficiencies, Kumar said.

CAs on-demand management vision takes place in two stages. The first involves an "internal utility"; the second involves the "community utility," Kumar said. "Today were getting set for the first stage: how to reconfigure blade servers transparently."

CAs vision will incorporate its security and storage management brands later in the year, according to Yogesh Gupta, CAs chief technology officer. "We will do cross-brand solutions suites," Gupta said.

Those developments could be outlined as soon as CA World this summer, Kumar said.