CA product lines get second overhaul

For the second time in the past four months, Computer Associates is reshuffling its sprawling 1200-product software line-up in an effort to make it easier for users to get a handle on the various tools and applications the company sells.

CA plans to announce an expansion of its core product brands from four to six and detail enhancements to its Web portal software and Neugents neural network products. As part of the move, CA will create three product groupings, undoing a catch-all middleware category that was put in place in July.

Perhaps most significantly, CA will roll its Jasmine ii database and middleware technology into a new grouping of data management and application development tools. Its Web portal software, which has been part of the Jasmine line, will become part of a separate product group along with its business intelligence tools.

CA is positioning the latest changes as a further refinement and clarification of its product marketing strategy.

A company spokeswoman said the move wasn't driven by lagging sales but by input from users and industry analysts.

"CA is trying to show that we listen to our customers' needs," she said.

Given the breadth of products CA sells, analysts said, it isn't surprising that some users are baffled by parts of the line-up particularly Jasmine, which CA has had to go to great lengths to explain.

Another CA user was less impressed. The planned changes "will not fix any of the real problems", said an administrator at a large school district in the southeastern US that runs a number of CA's mainframe software products. A bigger concern is that the company's sales force "does not care about after-the-sale issues" at customer sites because of the way they're compensated, said the user, who asked not to be identified.

However, CA is trying to change its reputation of being a less-than-friendly business partner, and other users have given the company credit for improving its customer support.

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