Welcome to the cloud market, CA

If anyone doubted CA Inc.'s intention to get into the cloud computing market, you can't get away with that skepticism anymore.
Written by James Staten, Contributor

If anyone doubted CA Inc.'s intention to get into the cloud computing market, you can't get away with that skepticism anymore. This company is serious. Its acquisition of early cloud leader 3Tera takes their nascent cloud entreaties to an entirely new level. 3Tera was one of the poster children of the emerging Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market when its AppLogic platform was deployed across a collection of service providers as the basis for their cloud solutions. The company since has grown this into a network of more than 30 service providers across the globe, and a small collection of enterprises who use its software to power their clouds. As a cloud infrastructure platform, that’s a substantial lead-in market penetration compared to the other favorites such as Eucalyptus, Enomaly, and of course VMware vCloud Express.

I call 3Tera’s customers a network not because they are interconnected but because the AppLogic software provides a higher level of abstraction than simply the hypervisor, and this abstraction eases the movement of workloads, whether single virtual machines or complex distributed applications, from one cloud to another. It’s also a differentiated platform play from Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and the other IaaS leaders as it has workload management built in, letting you package multiple VMs into a single service and deploy it as one logical entity and manage it as such. This ability to encapsulate applications comes from the roots of AppLogic as a workload management system, resulting in a relatively simple management system that can institute auto-scaling and failover policies.

Many of the leading grid management vendors, who have workload management as a key component of their offerings have made similar moves to 3Tera, such as Platform Computing, Librato, and Datasynapse, which was acquired by Tibco last year to complement its cloud strategy. Datasynapse, which had a stronghold in financial services, aimed FabricServer at its installed base. 3Tera saw an emerging opportunity to help service providers deliver greater value atop VM hosting. That moves seems prescient today.

However, as a small company of just 20 employees, it became difficult for 3Tera to convince service providers to bet their future on its technology. Now with the backing of CA, that’s no longer a concern. But one has to wonder if 3Tera’s challenges weren’t limited to its size. Confidential reports from two Forrester clients who tested out the platform substantially, stated that they found challenges in implementing the software and adapting it to their business needs. Hardly substantive, as the same can easily be said for nearly every IaaS platform in this immature space, but clearly something CA will have to examine once they get their hands on the actual code.

But this isn’t simply a market acquisition for CA. It’s a foundational move that it can now integrate with other CA products and technologies including Spectrum Automation Manager, its server provisioning and management product, its IT service catalog and its application performance management suite to give service providers a strong set of end customer tools for managing their cloud (and traditional hosting) deployments. It can also add Spectrum Infrastructure Manager, its suite of service assurance tools and its security management tools to aid service providers own operations. This also takes CA beyond just a management software company and potentially beyond even just a software company. The service provider partners form a channel, one that positions CA as not just a software vendor, but also now a provider of cloud services itself. Its software portfolio becomes firmly rounded for hybrid cloud enablement, but this fundamental shift is a major event in the evolution of CA and its rebirth from the ashes of the dreaded old Computer Associates.

As always, the devil is in the details. Acquisitions, even those this small, are much more difficult to assimilate than most people realize. Truly integrating 3Tera into the CA portfolio will prove slower than customers would like, but CA (the new CA) has proven it is among the most adept acquirers in this market.

In short, CA may have just taken the lead in IaaS platforms.

Editorial standards