Computer Associates has made many shifts in its marketing strategy and management organization in the past, to the point where jaded observers would yawn with each new one. The latest shift is an emphasis on security that includes the appointment of CA co-founder Russell Artzt as head of the companys security division. For the good of CAs many customers, this latest move ought to be far more than a periodic exercise in marketing spin.
CA certainly knows something about security already. It sells several products in its eTrust line, including firewall, anti-virus, and access and management packages. And it augmented the eTrust line just last month. The problem is, CA also sells a vast array of other products for storage, network management, portals, and database and application development. The companys focus on security could hurt the rest of its business unless it can reposition all of its products as aids to assuring uptime and protecting data integrity—which are, after all, the bottom-line goals of securing IT.
Unfortunately, CAs message so far is more about its own goals than its customers. “For us to grow as a business, were absolutely focused on security,” said Simon Perry, vice president of the eTrust security unit, at CA World late last month. Customers may rightly fear that security is merely CAs strategy du jour, since profits have been scarce in security territory recently. RSA, for instance, whose only business is security, reported a net loss for the first quarter of $13.7 million. VeriSign and ISS also posted poor earnings. For its own part, CA isnt doing all that well financially, either, so it had better hope that customers buy into the security message.
Over the past two years, CA has shifted away from an acquisition-based business plan to rely mainly on internal product development. Now is a good time to demonstrate just how good CA development really is by creating the industrys best security products and then wrapping them in a complete set of integration and management services.
CA owes it to its customers to strive toward its security goals with sustained focus and determination. Given the tone of CAs rhetoric to this point, nothing less will do.