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5/1/2009
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6 Questions With CA CEO John Swainson

The leader of the software management vendor has some very strong feelings about IT innovation, cloud computing, acquisitions, and remaining independent.

With about $4.5 billion annual revenue, CA sells enterprise software to manage and secure the IT systems of large companies, competing with companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and BMC.

John Swainson, CA's CEO since 2005, recently met with InformationWeek editor-in-chief Rob Preston and editor Chris Murphy. Here are excerpts from the discussion.

InformationWeek: Are CIOs thinking in the terms of having to move money out of the 80%/70% bucket for ongoing IT, and into the 20%/30% bucket for new projects?

Swainson: Absolutely. And it takes a bunch of different forms. You hear people talk about needing to get higher server utilization, with virtualization perhaps a tool to do that. You hear people talk about needing to get more automation of the data center processes, and tools like ours being a vehicle to do that. But there's generally a recognition that we aren't very efficient in the way we use the investment in IT, in particular the investment we make in IT operations. It takes too many people to still run IT. It's a fact.

The IT processes haven't been automated nearly as well as they might have. And that's an indictment of the entire industry, including my piece of it. The tools haven't delivered always on the promise they should've. Customers have been siloed about their development and haven't thought end to end. ... In this environment, when there isn't enough money to go around, they're having to look hard at how do we squeeze more money out of it.

InformationWeek: Are companies really making hard decisions, and not just nip and tuck?

Swainson: More than ever. Some of these decisions are hard because they imply turning upside down years of established practice. Some of them are hard because the end result is you're going to lay off a bunch of people. It's always hard to go into that kind of process when the outcome isn't necessarily the same people being in the same chairs.

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