Computer Associates touts on-demand computing

Computer Associates International Inc. gave its on-demand computing initiative a nudge on Tuesday, rolling out six products under its Unicenter banner at Networld+Interop that are intended to make it easier for users to kick-start their on-demand strategies.

In his speech at the conference, CA Chairman/CEO Sanjay Kumar said that the basic goals of on-demand computing are to dynamically align IT resources and a user's continually changing business priorities while simultaneously maintaining the efficiency with which those resources are being used.

Kmar believes that what has been missing from many on-demand initiatives from his competitors, such as IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., has been a lack of management software. He believes that "true on-demand" technologies and strategies can be achieved when IT capacity can be delivered as a utility. Not surprisingly, he believes CA has such capabilities.

"Many companies are finding that common resources, such as Windows servers, are seriously underutilized running at 20 percent capacity. What is missing is something to drive these resources to higher utilization, and the best way to do that is with systems management software," Kumar said.

What users need to do is identify problems quickly and then just as quickly identify where the resources are that can be delivered to fix those problems and to deliver those solutions through the most efficient means possible, all of which systems management software can do, according to Kumar.

"Users want to see these solutions delivered in minutes and not days. This is what on-demand computing will be all about," he said.

Managing on-demand computing will represent a critical step in the ongoing evolution of Unicenter, according to Kumar. The six new products all take advantage of CA's Common Services platform, which offers users shared "Business Process Views" synchronization between business processes and infrastructure and self-management capabilities.

Chief among the new products is Unicenter Network and Systems Management (NSM) Version 3.1, which is designed to enable IT shops to view infrastructure based on the services it supports. This is key for most on-demand initiatives because IT resources are always being reallocated to services based on-demand.

The second offering, called Unicenter Management for webMethods 3.0, manages the performance and availability of webMethods and works in concert with Unicenter NSM to associate applications and individual infrastructure components with the business process they support.

The company also introduced a new Unicener NSM Dynamic Reconfiguration Option that works with Unicenter NSM to monitor business service levels as well as anticipate when more capacity is needed to improve performance.

CA introduced Unicenter Software Delivery 4.0, capable of delivering built-in self-healing and provisioning capabilities for both applications and operating systems. It also provides automated provisioning and the reallocation of resources to accommodate changes in business demand.

Unicenter Asset Management 4.0 offers intelligent multi-dimensional software and hardware asset management, while Unicenter Service Plus Service Desk 6.0 enables devices and applications to proactively and automatically interact with a help desk, thereby embedding self-management into the on-demand computing architecture.

Kumar sees on-demand computing progressing in two phases. The first is to deliver a series of technologies that allows corporate users to better utilize existing IT resources by mapping their resources to their existing infrastructure, which is what the six products unveiled Tuesday will help users do. The second phase, the more difficult of the two, involves what Kumar called the Community Grid or Utility, which will enable users to access a wide range of different and remote platforms seamlessly.

"We have spent the last year or more talking to users about what on-demand means to them and about how we can get them started down that path to doing some useful things," Kumar said.

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