2013-The Rebirth Of CA?

“If you are in the tech business, you need to be willing and able to change”

This statement was made by Michael P Gregoire, CA Technologies’ (CA) new CEO and it pretty much summed up the vibe at CA World 13 this week. I have to admit, as I sat with my fellow Forrester colleagues, Eveline Oehrlich, Courtney Bartlett, Peter O’Neill and Glenn O’Donnell, waiting for the opening keynote I had thoughts in my head of the CA of old. These were formed during my time as an enterprise management consultant in which I saw CA make numerous, good acquisitions but struggle to keep their promises of integration and simplicity – two key ingredients for good enterprise management solutions. To be fair, this has not just been a problem for CA though, as many of the other large solution providers in this space have tripped over the same hurdles.

But, times are changing and the IT Management market is experiencing a renaissance with innovative new solutions that aim to accelerate I&O professionals adoption of Business Service Management (BSM). BSM until now has been a utopian dream but with the increased complexity of IT, from a people, process and technology perspective, means that this now has to become a reality for enterprise IT organizations. Encouragingly, some solution providers in this space are rising to the challenge and judging by the vision and energy portrayed by CA execs over the course of CA World 13 – CA could end up being one of the front-runners of the pack.

This is because CA talked about putting their customers first, helping their customers become more agile by providing guidance and solutions around DevOps which will lead to true “Business Service innovation” or as the tag line for this event stated – “IT With Impact”. Obviously, time will tell or more importantly CA’s customers will determine whether the vision turns into reality, but CA are definitely a business to keep on your radar over the coming years. Vision and strategy takes time to bed in and so CA World 2018, five years from now, could very well be a key milestone or litmus test to check the success of the strategic journey on which CA is embarking.

There were many announcements made at CA World including the acquisitions of Nolio (Application Release Automation) and Layer7 (API Management) but for this post I would like to concentrate on the vision outlined by CA execs over the last couple of days: 

  • “Organic innovation, success with our products, and moving you to new releases”, Michael P Gregoire, CEO – This is a direct, ambitious statement and is most welcome. The CA of old and many other, large IT management vendors focused on solution acquisition which has led to many of the integration pains felt by IT management customers today. We look forward to the ‘organic innovation’ that will come out of CA over the coming years. It’s easy to be skeptical about this but CA are already making strides to keep their promise here with investment in a new engineering R&D center fueled by recruiting directly from US universities. Also the launch of the CA Clarity Playbook solution shows great promise in helping make sure that enterprise IT is delivery real value to the business. In regards to moving their customers away from old, hard to support releases, well again, this statement is commendable but will take time. The challenge will be a) convincing customers to move without losing them and b) not only moving them up to the latest versions but also moving them to SaaS based platforms…
     
  • “SaaS solutions can benefit enterprises, partners and service providers”, Peter Griffiths, EVPThe future for CA solutions will be SaaS. The benefits of SaaS are clear – simplified adoption, licensing and maintenance. From a drawing board perspective this is the perfect sugar-coated strategy to eradicate many problems and complaints that CA have faced in the past. Will it succeed? Well CA Nimsoft Service Desk is a good start and for new customers and those who have leaped over the data privacy hurdle then this SaaS approach will no doubt be appealing. But CA have to be cognizant of those customers who can’t move to public SaaS because of security and privacy concerns plus those who may want to ‘dip their feet in the water’ with a hybrid approach. CA can’t afford to alienate these organizations as this approach needs the full support of CA’s existing customers to be successful. Also, those customers who are on older, on-premise versions could provide many headaches as they move up to newer versions before transitioning to a SaaS based framework. However to alleviate these challenges CA will…
     
  • “We will make sure our customers are getting value from our products with free services to make sure it happens, Michael P Gregoire, CEOThis was a jaw dropping moment during the keynote. The enterprise IT management market (plus most other IT solution markets) has been dogged by the need for high cost professional services to help ‘implement, train, customize and migrate’ many solutions. In fact this approach has helped the ecosystem to develop but for CA’s SaaS roadmap there are not many existing enterprise customers who would stomach this potential cost. CA are aware of this and are planning to help existing and new customers by offering ‘free’ support services. What ‘free’ will entail we will wait to see but Forrester finds the approach fresh and praiseworthy. The challenge for CA will be to convince its shareholders that this is the right approach as success for public companies is largely portrayed in the share price. If this approach works then CA will no doubt have a strong and loyal customer community which is just what a tech company needs in today’s world.
     
  • “Big data with management analytics is incredibly powerful”, Michael P Gregoire, CEOThis statement is spot on. The equation is simple: customers of enterprise IT services + multiple devices + multiple applications + the need for agile IT = complex, data rich, back end IT infrastructure with the potential for lots of inefficiencies. The IT Management market is experiencing its own big data problem and the solution is IT analytics. The companies which can make analytic solutions that are simple to use, capture data both in flow and from fixed source points and then turn data into information plus knowledge, stand to have a compelling IT Management solution which will be needed by I&O professionals. Therefore CA’s announcement of their OEM partnership with Prelert is most welcome step here. If you want to read more about IT analytics then check out this report by Glenn O’Donnell and J.P Garbani.
     
  • “DevOps can drive 30-50% faster delivery, 80-100% quality improvement, 20-30% resource cost reduction”, Michael P GregoireDevOps has been emerging as a real challenge for enterprise IT organizations. Simply, modern business requires rapid solutions from their enterprise IT organization to bolster competitive muscle. This leads to a focus on AGILE application and solution development which in turn is creating friction with the process and control orientated IT operations discipline. CA are looking to develop, innovative solutions to remove this friction and the CA Clarity Playbook is one example which will help here. Also the announced acquisition of Nolio is another firm commitment that CA will be striving to help their customers solve this challenge. With that said, CA need to be aware that applications and solutions are all very well but DevOps challenges are as much about people, process and organizational structure problems as they are about technology. Therefore for CA to be successful here they will also need to provide clear guidance to their customers in these areas.

So there you have it, CA is setting out to prove that a leopard can change its spots. CA World 13 showed that you don’t have to be a small-medium sized company to be disruptive as it’s largely about the employees, their desire to change and make a difference. Forrester saw the desire and energy to change during this conference. The stage is set, the audience is waiting so it’s now time for CA to start the show.