CA last week detailed its Management Database, technology the company detailed at a briefing last week and which is expected to emerge in CA products as early as this year. Typically, each CA product has its own data repository, but with the new technology users will have the option to use a shared database or maintain a separate database for each CA applications.Jeff Goldberg uses many Computer Associates Unicenter software applications to manage the network at Walter Reed Army facilities. With each CA product, he says he has to tap into a separate database and sometimes hop from console to console to compare management data via the administrator interface."At the very least, it's inefficient, but it could also be causing performance and back-up issues," says Goldberg, director of enterprise management services for Management Solutions & Systems, a systems integrator in Capital Heights, Md., in charge of maintaining management software for Walter Reed, in Washington, D.C. "CA needs to integrate its products more. If certain products were sharing the same database, it would make it easier for reporting and back-up purposes," he says.Goldberg is the kind of customer CA has in mind with its Management Database, technology the company detailed at a briefing last week and which is expected to emerge in CA products as early as this year. Typically, each CA product has its own data repository, but with the new technology users will have the option to use a shared database or maintain a separate database for each CA applications.CA says it has created a standard interface for its software that customers can opt to use via the company's portal software for multiple products, or maintain separate consoles."Integration is really a tax on IT users. They pay for the product, but then have to pay more and more for integration," says Mark Barrenechea, CA's executive vice president of product development.CA CTO Yogesh Gupta says by sharing data, CA management, security, storage and application life-cycle products also can interact to automate complex IT tasks such as patch management. He says CA doesn't expect customers to replace everything they have with new CA software, but they might want to reap the added benefits of integration."If the software that tracks your assets can use that asset data to perform vulnerability scans and patch machines, then why not take advantage of the capabilities gained by sharing data," Gupta says.Industry watchers say it will be a challenge for CA to integrate its vast product line."The biggest challenge for CA is to identify where it makes sense to integrate. The company needs to focus on what customers need now," says Stephen Elliot, a senior analyst with IDC.Competitors such as HP and IBM also have announced integration plans: HP with its OpenView Management Integration Platform, which lets management systems share data via Web services; and IBM's Common Event Infrastructure, which helps Big Blue better integrate and correlate events from business, application and IT systems on one console."All of these product lines are beginning to hone in on what their value is and how much more they can do if they actually share information," Elliot says. "The management vendors realize the economy has changed and there is a trend toward tool consolidation among customers, so they need to make the case for using their products stronger."In Goldberg's case, he'd like to see a database shared among products such as Asset Management and Software Delivery because he uses the products in concert to upgrade applications and roll out patches. But he says he is skeptical about all CA products tapping the same data resource."There is too much of an element of putting all your eggs in one basket for me," Goldberg says. "It's just too easy for a database to become corrupted. I wouldn't want everything tied to the corrupt data source."\u00a0The Computer Associates planThe company\u2019s network and systems management plans face several challenges.Strategy Challenge Provide an integration framework under the covers and across all products.CA needs to establish a clear product calendar detailing which software will be upgraded with the integration technology in areas customers most need, such as management, security and storage.Attack security problems with products to address identity, threat and security information management.CA has to either combine existing products or develop new products that can proactively detect advanced security threats, such as spyware, and lock down networks from further infection.Integrate business-process policies into its primarily IT-management product line.CA must prove its technology background can translate into letting customers identify and define processes and translate that into management software.