Computer Associates: A World of Change

The CA World conference will showcase the company's renewed focus on customers, partners and integration that executives say will return CA to a prominent place in the software industry.

Computer Associates Inc. will use this weeks CA World conference to reveal the results of a massive management shake-up and a slew of acquisitions designed to narrow its technology and business focus.

The company will also outline the strategy that senior executives say will return CA to a place of prominence in the software industry.

CA World in Las Vegas will be the first such show under the guidance of President and CEO John Swainson, who joined CA last year in the wake of the resignations and indictments that swept through the Islandia, N.Y. companys executive suite last year.

Swainson, a former IBM executive, said the event will be the coming-out party for CAs renewed focus on product integration and the importance of partnerships.

"Its going to have a very different look and feel, much more focused on customer value and much less focused on glitz and glitter," Swainson told eWEEK.


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"CA World is about making sure we exhibit the kinds of behaviors as a company that customers want in their business partner [because] the challenges on them to deliver more with less are greater than theyve ever been."

Admitting that CA in the past was too internally focused when customer concerns should have been the No. 1 priority, Swainson said the company has made a major effort to reverse that trend.

"One of the things I recognized when I joined CA [was] we had a very mixed relationship [with customers]. We had [relationships] that were as good as any in the industry, and some less so," Swainson said.

"We needed to beef up the partnerships we had with customers and ensure we were working on things that were relevant to them."

Those efforts involved a number of initiatives to remake the beleaguered software company from the top down.

Organizational moves included the hiring of executives from leading IT companies to change the face of the company; aligning sales teams more tightly around specific business units; and spending millions of acquisition dollars to beef up and eventually link more closely its four primary technology areas of systems and network management, security, storage, and business services optimization.

Customers looking for simplified management tools to help solve tasks extending beyond IT infrastructure toward areas such as compliance, permissions, access, policies and procedures are seeing changes in CAs strategy.

"We have noticed there is more focus and more direction in their products. We dont know how much baggage theyre going to carry from before, but all in all weve noticed there have been a lot of changes," said Sorrel Jakins, chief engineer in the Office of Information Technology at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.

Swainson said that in addition to trying to repair its relationships with customers, the company will give part of the floor at CA World to a host of technology partners, a major departure from past CA World shows and an indication of how heavily the company plans to lean on its myriad partners going forward.

"A new message at CA World is were going to be there hand in hand with a whole series of partners, from Microsoft [Corp.] to IBM, Accenture, BearingPoint [Inc.] and a host of others, and those partners will be talking more than we will," Swainson said.

Last years CA World show was abruptly canceled while the company searched for months to find a suitable replacement for former CEO Sanjay Kumar.

Kumar resigned from CA in April 2004 following an investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission into a series of accounting improprieties at the company over the last several years.

He was later indicted on charges of securities fraud, obstructing justice and conspiracy in connection with the multimillion-dollar accounting scandal. If convicted on all counts at a trial scheduled to begin in April, Kumar could face up to 100 years in prison.

Swainson said he expects CA to remain under its deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government for about one more year. But he hasnt let the weight of past events slow his work on reshaping the company.

During an enormous spending spree over the last 14 months, CA acquired a number of companies, including Netegrity Inc.; Concord Communications Inc.; PestPatrol Inc.; Niku Corp.; Tiny Software Inc.; Qurb Inc.; and, most recently, iLumin Software Services Inc.

CA faces the daunting task of trying to integrate all the new technology into its Unicenter technology platform.

Specifically, Netegritys technology is intended to shore up CAs eTrust identity and access management security portfolio, Concords software will be worked into CAs network and systems management business unit, and Nikus technology will address IT governance.

CA is building up its technology arsenal to simultaneously affect core applications, as well as storage, security and systems management functions, Swainson said.

For example, tasks such as patch management could involve multiple CA product areas working together in a unified offering.

"Thats the bet were making by delivering superior products that will cause [customers] to buy more of our stuff," said Swainson. "Weve got more technology rolling out over the next 30 to 60 days than, frankly, anyone can handle or, frankly, anyone can use."

Next Page: Speeding up installations a priority for CA.