CA Jumps into On Demand Fray

Software maker unveils six new enterprise management applications that feature automated server provisioning and reconfiguration.

Enterprise management software maker Computer Associates is joining the on-demand trend by unveiling six new products for its Unicenter suite of software that help customers "dial-in" network management resources as they need.

The new products are modules to be used with CA's Unicenter family of infrastructure management applications that monitor different platforms across a customer's enterprise.

"Everyone has a vision of computing on-demand," said Sanjay Kumar, chairman and CEO of CA, in a keynote address at the NetWorld+Interop trade show in Las Vegas.

CA's take on the trend, Kumar continued, is that the benefits of on-demand computing can be achieved largely through IT management, instead of deploying extensive overhauls of IT structures.

Kumar stressed that to achieve maximum flexibility, customers must have the ability to access computing resources regardless of platform.

His comments help illustrate the larger trend at play in the IT industry. Enterprise customers are increasingly calling the shots with systems vendors, especially as open standards are adopted across corporate networks, giving IT customers freedom from vendor "lock-in" that often left the vendors in the driver seat.

"It's not about switching out servers; it's not about the latest generation of hardware; it's about platform-neutral computing that allows you to use what you have more effectively and efficiently," he said. "It doesn't matter if a customer has Sun servers, a bunch of IBMs, an HP and Windows servers in the mix; we'll work with what they have."

The software releases represent only the first phase in its on-demand computing strategy, CA said.

The applications, which help deliver automated mapping of IT resources to business processes, automated software provisioning, and dynamic allocation and partitioning of servers to enable self-managing systems break out into six new releases:

  • Unicenter Network and Systems Management (Unicenter NSM) 3.1 -- A platform that enables IT organizations to view IT infrastructure based on the services it supports, and to keep those views current in a dynamically changing environment.
  • Unicenter Management for webMethods 3.0 -- This module works with Unicenter NSM to dynamically associate applications and individual infrastructure components with the business processes they support in an on-demand computing environment.
  • Unicenter NSM Dynamic Reconfiguration Option -- This also works with Unicenter NSM to monitor business service levels, anticipate when more capacity is needed to improve performance, and triggers the immediate allocation of more capacity.
  • Unicenter Software Delivery 4.0 -- This application helps deliver built-in self-healing and provisioning capabilities for applications and operating systems that provide automated provisioning and reallocation of resources to accommodate changes in business demand. It also manages software interdependencies to ensure that on-demand infrastructure functions properly.
  • Unicenter Asset Management 4.0 -- The upgrade provides intelligent, multi-dimensional software and hardware asset management capabilities that present an accurate representation of enterprise-wide resources.
  • Unicenter ServicePlus Service Desk 6.0 -- This application enables devices and applications to proactively and automatically interact with the help desk -- thereby embedding self-management into the on-demand computing infrastructure, the company said.

    "There is a growing trend toward enabling more effective business control of the full infrastructure, including network, systems, applications, with visibility and automation, and a focus on services management and business impact," Kumar said.

    "Many vendors are making an effort to answer this challenge to manage the infrastructure and everyone's got a name for what they propose to do, from "Adaptive Management" (HP) to "Autonomic Management" (IBM)," he said.

    "But there's been little progress in actually offering innovations that can realize the promise the names imply."

    Three of the products are available now, with three more in beta testing, CA said.

    Next up from the Islandia, NY-based CA, officials said, will be products that focus on managing communities of utilities. CA said that phase would enable CA's customers to access capability from outside their IT environment -- tapping into server farms or data centers in order to serve up the capacity they need at the time.

    Kumar said one of the interesting side effects of on-demand computing is that application services will become independent of hardware.

    "Customers will be able to use any type of device to receive the services they want, where and when they want them," Kumar said. "By the same token, customers won't care whether their systems use proprietary platforms or open software; they'll only care about the service they receive."

    Three of the six Unicenter solutions for managing on-demand computing are available now; the others are in beta test and will be available within 60 days, CA said.

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