CA pushes 'Sonar' automation as on-demand computing tool

Computer Associates International will reduce the need for human intervention in enterprise management and make it easier for IT staffers to more efficiently exploit unused assets.

That was the vision sketched by CA executives at the CA World 2003 user conference, as the company evolves its systems management software so it will dynamically allocate server or storage resources to best serve the most critical business units. While CA has over the past several years been steadily enhancing its software to help IT staffs prioritize which systems receive the most support, its newest architecture, code-named Sonar, will speed the process and boost efficiency by automating it with business intelligence.

In a keynote speech, CA President and CEO Sanjay Kumar explained that Sonar will look for IT assets, catalog them and then decide how they will be delivered to support a given business process.

Executives elaborated on Sonar but were vague on some of the details. For instance, Sonar could do things such as download a copy of Linux to a Wintel server in order to run a specific application to support, say, a human resources application. After the task was completed, the server would revert to its original state.

Sonar would also make sure that the application was supported by adequate security. Such dynamic reassignment of resources is currently impossible without automation.

If it works as planned, Sonar could address IT's demand to cut down on the costs of idle hardware and the people needed to manage it, said Clark Ammons, production and systems manager of information systems at CA user Washington University in St. Louis.

For instance, at the university, some servers remain idle most of the time but are needed for occasional spikes in demand, such as when students are registering for classes. That hardware could be better exploited during downtime, making the most of the investment and allowing the university to make do with what it has rather than having to buy expensive new assets. "I'd be foolish not to look at it," Ammons said.

In other CA news, Kumar also announced the planned rollout of the eTrust Vulnerability Manager. This tool, which will automatically detect weak points in a network, has database of some 6,000 known vulnerabilities.

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