CA Technologies: Looking to the cloud, but keeping its feet on the ground

IT management company aims for the cloud while looking after mainframes as well...

IT management company aims for the cloud while looking after mainframes as well...

As cloud computing adds another layer of complexity to enterprise IT infrastructure, CA Technologies is setting out its stall on how it plans to tackle the tech tangle.

Though the hype may suggest otherwise, it's still early days for adoption of cloud computing.

Much of current take-up is coming from smaller organisations who don't have the IT skills to run their own applications inhouse, while most of what's being bought in involves stand-alone applications, such as email.

Umbrella, storm clouds

CA Technologies may have got its start managing mainframes 35 years ago, but today it has its sights on cloud managementPhoto: Shutterstock

However, as more organisations decide to move key applications outside the boundaries of their own firewall, the question of how to manage and secure this growing number of cloud applications - which could be hosted anywhere in the world, on any type of hardware, by a third party or parties - is set to become a headache for CIOs.

IT management company CA Technologies may have got its start managing mainframes 35 years ago, but today it also has its sights on providing services to manage organisations' cloud sprawl.

Its plans for managing companies' cloud infrastructure were front and centre at its CA World customer event this month, with the company announcing a number of updates to its suite of products for managing and developing cloud services.

The announcements represent a quiet switch from the Cloud Connected Management Suite strategy it showcased at last year's CA World to one focused on a different package of cloud offerings - albeit based on some of the same underlying technologies - packaged as Cloud 360, CA Automation Suite for Clouds, CA AppLogic and CA Business Service Insight.

Last year, the company also announced it was to buy cloud management software company Nimsoft. With CA Technologies' customers typically on the large side - it's the very biggest companies that have sprawling IT infrastructure in need of management software - CA is hoping the acquisition will allow it to sell to a new medium-sized customer base.

But while the cloud may represent a tempting market, the company is still aiming to serve the traditional inhouse set-up as well as its original mainframe market: "Some customers don't need cloud hosted right away and they stick with our traditional products, which are the best. We will continue to develop and sell them and as customers need something that is hosted in the cloud we've got Nimsoft, so we are covering the bases," Russ Artzt, CA's vice chairman said.

At CA World, its mainframe audience, which still represents a significant part of its customer base, saw the...

...unveiling updates to its Chorus mainframe management suite bringing in a more modern user interface and extra role-based data analysis tools.

But with such a wide-ranging brief, spanning mainframes down to identity management, the links between the various parts of its product portfolio may be in need of strengthening.

According to Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, CA Technologies needs to present a vision of management across all computing platforms, from mainframe and client-server to hybrid clouds, and make its different technologies work together - a stage it hasn't reached quite yet.

"They've got all the bits that are needed to be a stonking company but they seem to be a stodgy company instead," he said. "If you're going to take on IBM then take them on across all IBM's software, and not just on the mainframe."

It's an area CA will have to work on if it is to fulfil its ambition of selling cloud products to larger companies.

"The products will evolve and ultimately be sold to our traditional base of customers as well because they are looking for SaaS management products," CA Technologies' Artzt said.

As part of the evolution, Artzt told silicon.com the aim is to develop its Nimsoft IT management offering further so that "ultimately it will be a full management suite", with the addition of functionality including helpdesk management.

CA Technologies is also making an integration play with the building of a common platform which will allow it to work and communicate with CA's other products, such as its CA eHealth line of network management tools. Nimsoft will be the first to use the platform, although the timescale for release is not yet known.

The company is also looking at the future of cloud computing, where business users start building their own applications. It is working with students at Stony Brook University, near its New York headquarters, on a project looking at the tools business users will need to build their own cloud apps from ready-built chunks of code.

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