While many major software vendors embrace a specific platform, Computer Associates, Inc. has focused on the middle ground — breaking down the barriers between different platforms, managing the heterogeneous enterprise or acting as middleware between complex systems. Its products currently support everything from IBM mainframes running zOS and OS/390 down to PDAs running Windows CE.
In keeping with this tradition, CA is now getting behind Linux in a big way, adding 23 new Linux applications over the past three months.
“Unlike companies that add a Linux agent to a pile of products and then loudly proclaim, ‘We do Linux,’ Computer Associates has done the real work,” says Valerie O’Connell, managing director, enterprise systems management, for Boston-based research firm Aberdeen Group. “The result is an offering for Linux that is comparable to Computer Associates’ capabilities in Windows 2000 and Solaris.”
What initially caught CA’s attention, was that fact that Linux’ growing popularity wasn’t supported by an adequate range of management tools. In particular, Linux servers didn’t integrate well in an enterprise environment with equipment running on other platforms.
“If you can’t manage it, you can’t deploy it,” explains John Pincomb, CA’s vice president for eBusiness Solution Platforms.
With more and more of its clients demanding a Linux deployment, it was up to Computer Associates to come up with the management software.
“In talking with our customers, we saw that it was one of those movements in the industry that was going to take off,” continues Pincomb. “It was something we wanted to be a part of.”
CA released its first Linux product in April 1999, a module for its Unicenter TNG framework package, and the following year it released a complete framework package, Unicenter TNG for Linux.
Since then, it has steadily continued to port its products over to the new platform. Over the course of this year, CA has released 23 more products to bring its Linux total up to 54.
In keeping with the company’s agnostic approach to platforms, each works with the Caldera, Red Hat, SuSE and TurboLinux versions of Linux. These applications cover each of CA’s six product lines:
For enterprise management, the company offers modules for Unicenter covering service level management, job scheduling and cluster server management as well as network and systems management for devices, applications and databases running on Linux.
Its storage management line has products specifically designed to back up and restore Linux systems; and its enterprise backup software supports Linux in a heterogeneous environment.
In addition, CA offers a variety of security management applications covering virus protection, policy compliance, security monitoring and access control either in a Linux environment or for Linux boxes operating in a mixed environment.
“We’ve been releasing and updating these products for over three years,” says Pincomb. “The main products needed to make Linux viable in the enterprise are now available.”
Equality for Penguins
CA’s timing, it seems, coincided with a greater overall acceptance of Linux in the enterprise marketplace. Take the case of Bording Data A/S, a software engineering firm based in Denmark. Bording has seen a lot of operating systems since it began in the mid-1950s. Over the past decade there was a rising demand from its clients for Linux, but the company didn’t want to use Linux until it had the support needed for a high-demand corporate environment.
“Being free of charge, Linux has lurked in the background for quite some time,” says Jan Johannes Kyhnaeb, Bording’s International Sales Manager. “But we wanted to wait until Linux rose above the nerd- and university-driven level where only true enthusiasts would have the time it took to keep it up and running. That time has come.”
Bording builds integrated solutions for Internet, Back Office and ERP systems, such as Web shops integrated to the ERP system sharing business logic, B2B marketplaces giving customers online access to orders and inventory, and customer-specific solutions for eProcurement using PDAs for stock replenishment.
Its customers use Bording’s systems with hundreds of connected users who process more than 100,000 transactions per day and Internet applications that handle more than 70,000 users during peak hours. Now that adequate support exists for Linux, Bording is offering it as an option.
“We always try to go with the OS best suited for a task and price is only one parameter in that respect,” says Khynaeb. “We have found that Linux is less hardware demanding in terms of capacity and maintenance — it will run on smaller machines and will offer higher availability.”
To build its multiplatform solutions, Bording incorporates several Computer Associates products, including the Advantage IngresII database, Advantage OpenRoad, CleverPath Portal and JasmineII.
In addition to using Linux with its clients, Bording also now uses the operating system into its own network, along with Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, SCO UNIX, HP-UX and AIX. Currently the firm uses CA’s IngresII database, but is looking at incorporating the other CA Linux products it is using in its client offerings.
“One of the nice things about CA tools is that there is almost no difference in the installation process between different Operating Systems,” says Khynaeb. “It takes under an hour to install Advantage IngresII and make the initial configurations, and creating databases in it is a matter of minutes.”
As the tools to manage Linux continue to grow, so does its penetration into the corporate world. With support from giants such as IBM, HP/Compaq and now CA, it has surpassed UNIX to move into the No. 2 position in terms of new server operating systems.
“Our customers say Linux is important to them and they want to rely on it as a peer in their IT environments,” says Pincomb. “Our job is to make that possible.”