NEW YORK — As information technology migrates to a new era of on-demand computing, the head of Computer Associates
is urging the industry to take a page out of the consumer technology sector’s playbook.
“Consumers have very little tolerance for products that fail to deliver functionality, simplicity of use and low cost,” Ken Cron, interim CEO of CA, said in a keynote address at the TechXNY trade show. “Consumer products either deliver, or you shelve them and walk away.”
By contrast, he continued, “too many IT products are designed without putting customer needs first. And the wide variety of products from a wide variety of vendors has created too much complexity.”
Vendors must “focus on designing products that meet customer needs, reduce complexity, and mitigate risk,” he said.
Cron, who was named CA’s interim CEO in April after Sanjay Kumar resigned amid an accounting scandal, offered a kind of warning to tech vendors who don’t recognize the trends driving the IT and software industry. These include a shift from an era of single vendor and platform lock-in to adoption of open standards that can interoperate across heterogeneous systems.
As the IT industry moves to deliver software and computing services on-demand, utility style, vendors must adjust expectations of how customers will invest in, and pay for, IT systems and services.
Most organizations have made years of investments in processing and computing power to meet peak demands on their systems. As a result, overall utilization is low, he noted. Take storage systems. Cron said utilization rates now average about 25 percent to 35 percent of actual capacity. He said servers can average between 10 percent and 25 percent of capacity.
Cron said the IT industry as a whole invests more than $20 billion annually in R&D. And, as a result, new technology stacks, platforms, and operating systems are regularly introduced. But vendors still don’t talk to each other, he said.
“Computing should work like electric power. You walk into a room, flip a switch and the light comes on. You want light and you get light. It should be that simple. Plug in and go,” he said.
“With on-demand you pay for what you need, when you need it and for how much you need,” he added. “Ultimately what business users want is what consumers already have: easy to use at a reasonable cost.”
CA has been aggressive in embracing the shift to software on demand in the past few years, such as its Unicenter family of infrastructure management applications that monitor different platforms across a customer’s enterprise.