CA recently launched an update to its Application Performance Management suite. I had some basic questions about what they were doing and more importantly, how the company was doing it. I guess my questions went somewhat beyond what company representatives normally get during a product launch briefing. I ended up speaking with CA several times. In the end, it is clear that this product is part of a comprehensive collection of products designed to help organizations manage their complete IT infrastructure.
A big part of my challenge was dealing with CA's segmentation of IT infrastructure itself. CA doesn't speak about the layers of software and hardware technology in use and how CA's products would help organizations get a glimpse into a highly complex, distributed, multi-vendor, multi-platform application environment. Instead, the company speaks of the following segmentation: executive, operations, applications and infrastructure. I found this very confusing. I later discovered that CA's different business units, hereby called "silos", looked at different parts of the software and hardware infrastructure. Each, I suspect, uses a different model.
Where, for example, would application frameworks fit in this model. I wondered whether this very important application execution and development environment would fit in applications or infrastructure. Applications turned out to be the answer.
As CA presented their product update information, I was constantly confused by where the company put different aspects of a computing environment in this very simple model and how products would allow organizations to see what was happening and effectively deal with application slow downs or outages.
CA, I must point out, was really keen on explaining a new communications hub, called CA Catalyst, that allow management information from one system, component or what have you to communicate with management tools. It appears that CA has developed a number of "connectors" for popular applications, frameworks, database engines and the like. If a customer uses an uncommon tool or a custom application, it would need to either develop its own connector using CA's software development kit or engage CA's professional services to build a connector. I was informed that CA is constantly building new connectors for commercial software products. CA, by the way, was very proud of a tool that uses CA Catalyst to gather and display operational information to executives using a smartphone.
The briefing included a demonstration of several of CA's management tools. While they appeared easy to use, I found myself confused over what tool was being used to monitor what operational data, what was packaged with what and what a customer would need to purchase to get the proper tools for the job at hand. I also wondered how CA's system management, network management, and/or power management tools fit into the picture.
If I was asked to try to explain it to a Kusnetzky Group client, I would be forced to use words like "comprehensive," "powerful," and "confusing." I have found it far easier to understand what other suppliers of management software, such as IBM or HP are doing.