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CA’s storage future looks bright

Jun 01, 20044 mins
Data Center

* The wheels at CA's storage unit are starting to turn

Last week, Computer Associates held its CA World meetings in Las Vegas.  As I usually do when I go to these things, I spent several days talking with senior management, engineers and users discussing where they are going with their storage products.  Over the next two issues, I’ll share some of what I have learned.

This is a time of change for CA at the senior-most levels.  At the corporate-level, much of the old guard – some of whom had been in place for over a decade – are now gone.  There is lots of fresh blood in the BrightStor group as well, although this influx of outsiders doesn’t seem to be connected to the changes in the executive offices.  The new BrightStor management is a senior team, a mixture of in-house CA talent and seasoned outsiders with storage experience at AppIQ, Compaq, Unisys and a number of other places.  And after several years of seeming slumber, it looks as if the wheels are ready to start turning at CA again.

CA has a huge product set for desktop, distributed and mainframe systems, and includes among other things enterprise management, network management, security management, various portals, training services, applications, databases and many other things in addition to storage. 

As regards CA’s storage management strategy, it is moving into place in a manner that may lack excitement at first, but certainly appears to be logical.  At the highest level, here is what to expect:

“On-demand” is as central to the corporate marketing thrust here as it is at HP, IBM and Veritas.  Call it what you will – utility computing, on-demand (with or without the hyphen) or any of a half dozen other things – it is clear that most of the major players have taken the bait and are trying to build architectures that support the idea of providing users with resources on an as-needed basis. 

Efficient storage management is critical to providing an on-demand IT system.  Conceptually, CA divides its storage management approach into four categories of process: Identification, Classification, Definition and Automation. View these as four interrelated phases. 

Identification involves asset discovery, storage-area network topology mapping, and reporting on storage resources.  Classification refers to data classification (of storage assets and data assets) and process classification, which covers business processes and infrastructure and device management.  Definition specifies processes for workflow management, best practice implementation and security and risk management.  The final category automates processes that contribute to operational efficiency and address service levels.

This is all pretty high-level stuff of course, but it provides a useful framework for analyzing the products.  When CA’s reps start to drop by, see how all this fits in with what they have to say.

If you could walk through the halls with the other 15,000 attendees and work your way past the signs promising “business-centricity” and a few other more-or-less predictable platitudes, you might sense that CA actually may be starting to focus on solutions rather than just on products.  This of course is not a novel idea, but it is a useful one. 

And notwithstanding what a CA sales rep told me (“Yeah Mike, maybe management does want us to offer solutions, but my customers still want to buy products!”), it’s good to know that the products (presumably) are linked into the storage strategy. It’s also good to know that that strategy seems to be complete at least in respect to one important criterion: it takes advantage of CA’s enterprise-wide areas of expertise and views IT as a complete and interrelated system rather than as an assemblage of distinct and separate parts. 

If CA’s on-demand offerings really do dip into its corporate pool of expertise in storage, networking, systems management and security, and if the quality is good and if the deliverables appear on time, this should make for a comprehensive solution. If… 

Next time, CA’s view on information lifecycle management.