CA's secret recipe: An organic engineering team

At CA World, CA's executives spoke about the company's emphasis on developing in-house engineering skills.

I spent the early part of last week at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas attending CA World. This was a very different CA World than in the past. It wasn’t just that Magic Johnson and The Fray appeared, it was that CA has a new laser focus on the three key pillars on which they are building their business. All three are built on the back of the “organic engineering team,” which has been built up under the leadership of CEO Mike Gregoire.

Since taking over in 2012, Gregoire has steered CA into a strategy of building the company holistically rather than via acquisition. I had a chance to sit down and speak with Michael one-on-one.  He says his biggest accomplishment is building a “culture of software engineering.”

In today’s world, every company is a software company. If you don’t have the resources in-house to develop software, it is hard to succeed. As Gregoire put it, “engineering matters.” As a result, while he is not ruling out an acquisition here and there, he is committed to growing CA organically.

The CEO was not the only CA exec I had a chance to meet with. I also chatted with Amit Chatterjee, Executive Vice President in the Enterprise Solutions and Technology Group; Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President in Product and Solutions Marketing (don’t let the title fool you, she is an engineer too); Dimitri Sirota, SVP of Business Unit Strategy, and CTO John Michelson. All of these execs were consistent in defining what CA’s focus is going forward.

That strategy is grounded in three key areas:

  1. DevOps – From Gregoire’s keynote, “Customers need to innovate. Fast. They need to deliver new applications—from design to launch—rapidly, seamlessly, and predictably. Not in weeks or months—but sometimes in days, and increasingly…in hours.”
  2. API Management and Security – Again from the CEO’s keynote, “…we live in a development world driven increasingly by APIs. These are the building blocks of an Application Economy. You have to manage them, open new development environments, and attract a community of developers. Security is at the heart of your business. But let me be clear – this isn’t about keeping people out.  It's about providing the right access to the right users, at the right time, with the least amount of friction.”
  3. The Management Cloud – “Third, managing the enormous growth of your IT environment. We built the Management Cloud to transform this complexity into business opportunity. To help you take control of this environment. Tomorrow – it will expand with such velocity that it threatens the integrity of your business. We’re ready.  From decision support to service management. For the power-user up to the C-suite. We are going to help you manage IT like a business – and create value across the enterprise.”

In my discussions with Michelson and Ravichandran, the DevOps focus came through loud and clear. Michelson cited some studies that show over the next three to five years, 99% of companies that consider themselves leaders will have adopted a DevOps approach. Even among those who identified as laggards, 75% will adopt DevOps in that time period.

CA’s view is that we are living in an application-driven economy with software driving the business. A company’s ability to thrive is based upon its ability to develop, use, and manage software. CA is delivering the tools that will enable their customers to do all of the above. More so, they are eating their own dog food by living by these mantras themselves.  It starts with a culture of software engineering, led by an organic engineering team within the company.

I don’t disagree that software is eating the world. CA has the customer reach and resources to be an arms dealer in the software/application economy. If Gregoire is given the chance to see his plan through, it could be a big winner and more relevant than ever.

Check out this video of the presentation from CA World.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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