November 10, 2005 2:11 PM PST

CA to give Unicenter a major facelift

Computer Associates plans to release a major upgrade to its systems-management product line next week and to begin a multimillion-dollar branding campaign.

The company is scheduled to kick off its CA World customer conference in Las Vegas on Sunday with a keynote speech from CEO John Swainson, who joined the company a year ago.

During the conference, CA executives are expected to announce the availability of Unicenter 11, a new release of the company's flagship systems- and network-management product line. Unicenter monitors the performance of networked computing gear such as storage and servers.

As previously reported, Unicenter 11 has been designed so customers and third-party software providers can customize the software and build add-ons.

Notably, the upgrade will deliver CA's Management Database (MDB), said Mark Barrenechea, a CA executive in charge of technology strategy and architecture.

First discussed by the company two years ago, MDB provides a single place on a network to keep computing-gear configuration information. It also will store security-related information, such as network IDs and access privileges.

The goal of MDB, the company said, is to simplify administration and help IT organizations answer questions, such as how many PCs and servers are connected to a network, or which servers have the most recent patches.

As part of the rollout, which will completed in coming months, CA is paring down the Unicenter portfolio from about 25 products to five product areas, Barrenechea said.

"We've effectively rolled up individual products--which look like features, if you will--into aggregated solutions," he said.

From the five products areas, such as asset management and job management, customers can choose modules that work with that application, he explained.

A common repository is becoming increasingly important for tracking technology assets, Swainson said.

Corporate customers are trying to monitor and manage the performance of their business applications, rather than compile performance data from individual components such as servers and routers, he said.

Swainson said that customers increasingly have said: "I need to look at this holistically; managing at the asset level is not enough. I don't care about the assets. I care about my order entry process."

CA also intends to offer Unicenter-related consulting on how to best operate certain administrative tasks, or flows, such as how to set up a new user on a network, Swainson said.

Shortly after taking over at CA, Swainson decided the company needed to focus on the systems management, storage and security product areas, and deemphasize others. In its first divestiture, CA on Monday spun out a company called Ingres which will sell services for CA's open-source Ingres database.

Unicenter 11 initially will ship with the MDB on Ingres; CA also will make versions available on Oracle and Microsoft's SQL Server database.

As part of the Unicenter 11 product launch at CA World, the company intends to upgrade its marketing efforts.

During the company's second-quarter 2006 earnings call last month, Swainson detailed the company's plans to spend about $20 million for "marketing in connection with CA World; upcoming product launches; and to support the performance of our acquisitions."

 

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