CA prepares security, storage management portals

Computer Associates International hopes to ease the headaches of users running heterogeneous storage and security management applications -- without making them buy the company's enterprise management applications.

To that end, CA plans to roll out stand-alone Web portal software that it claims will simplify and ease storage resources and security management for users. This week, CA executives told Computerworld that the portals will be announced at the CA World user event in April.

The move offers new evidence of CA's desire to become more modular in its sales strategy and offer individual management products rather than trying to make users buy into the complete Unicenter enterprise management platform.

Storage users face ever greater complexity with the proliferation of technologies such as storage-area networks (SAN) and the new high-speed interconnect InfiniBand, according to Russell Artzt, executive vice president in charge of the BrightStor storage line. The new BrightStor portal will help users cope with managing multiple storage protocols (such as Fibre Channel or SCSI), processes and vendor hardware in their networks.

As with Unicenter, disparate applications will be tied together in one easily accessed portal, Artzt said. "Storage has got to be managed end to end," he said.

Rather than make users navigate through multiple screens to access data on the performance of individual devices or applications, CA plans to allow them to manage and monitor their storage resources centrally through its customizable BrightStor portal. Users will be able to do things such as check into backup operations run by CA or other vendors' applications, or view the health of IBM Corp. or EMC Corp. storage hardware.

The portal will also take data feeds from CA's SAN manager product. Users can set acceptable performance threshold limits by group, application or individual using the storage resources. If any of the thresholds is violated, an alarm will be triggered, said Artzt. Users will also be able to issue reports on things such as disk utilization.

The product will be in beta by next month, with general availability expected in midsummer.

CA, along with rivals such as BMC Software Inc., is recognizing how complex it can be to create a storage management platform, and it's trying to simplify it, said Bill North, analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.

"What you're seeing is a move to a more discrete, performance-specific function product that can be installed without having to invest in a huge infrastructure upfront," he said. Most storage management applications can only handle one portion of a storage network at a time; the real benefit of a portal is to integrate all the multiple device and application views into one interface for the user.

In the same vein, CA will also be announcing a security management portal, which will be in beta around the time CA World is held, said Simon Perry, a manager in the company's eTrust security division. The portal will let users access and manage their intrusion-detection, antivirus, policy compliance and other Web-based security applications from one point, said Perry.

The portal will initially be available on the Windows platform. CA would not disclose pricing for either of the portal products.

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