CA starts fresh with customers

Computer Associates kicked off its annual CA World user conference this week ensuring attendees the new management team, more focused technology direction and renewed commitment to customer service will outweigh the company's checkered past.

President and CEO John Swainson delivered the Sunday night keynote speech with details about the company's image update, commitment to customer service and product news, which includes some 26 new and upgraded products, out of a total 86 revamped with integration features. Swainson explained to attendees the company's vision of Enterprise IT Management, or EITM, which will provide IT managers with comprehensive and integrated products to manage and secure technology within enterprise companies.

"We may have gotten the reputation of having a product in every market, but not one of being the best in any one of them," Swainson said. "We have refreshed our major product lines -- Unicenter, eTrust, BrightStor -- and have established a new structure among all our products that will change the paradigm of systems management."

With product development focused in four primary areas -- network and systems management, security, storage systems management and business services optimization -- Swainson said CA can "simplify and unify" IT management for its customers. The "comprehensive and integrated" approach to management will enable CA customers to automate manual IT labor and become more nimble when managing critical business applications, Swainson said.

The change can be attributed to CA's Integration Platform, which company officials explained would equip CA software with common policies, integrated processes and workflows, integrate data sharing and a consistent user experience. CA Integration Platform will enable CA products to work together, as well as work with third-party software, according to Mark Barrenechea, CA's chief technology strategist.

"There is an unprecedented level of cost and complexity associated with IT," he told press at the conference. "We stepped back and built an integrated schema for how to manage and secure IT."

The changes can be attributed to a lot of engineering work, according to Jeff Clarke, COO of CA. He explained how for the past five years CA invested some US$650 million per year in its vision to deliver EITM, which "totals about $3 billion in product engineering." CA also pointed to its acquisitions in the past year, eight total and four the company dubbed "substantive," as a sign of its commitment to developing market leading products in its designated four key areas.

CA also announced it will help customers with packaged best practices, workflows and other process tools in its EITM Accelerators, which the company said are based on the tenets of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and the Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) among other best practice frameworks. The EITM Accelerators will provide customers with various on ramps to the over EITM strategy, because CA officials said they are aware customers will not be ripping and replacing their current infrastructure management tools.

In addition to the product plans, Swainson said among his top priorities is increasing the company's customer service satisfaction levels among customers. The company has improved its customer satisfaction numbers by 25 percent over the past few years, according to Clarke, and Swainson added the management team would not stop until it reaches all customers with its new attitude.

"Our words must be reflected in the actions of every one you deal with at CA," Swainson said.

Lastly CA announced it will officially and legally be known as CA. Computer Associates will be a name of the past in a few months as the company follows the path of competitors such as Hewlett-Packard, or HP, and International Business Machines, or IBM, with its more simply stated company name CA.

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