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4/23/2007
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CA's Swainson Tries To 'Reset The Agenda' On IT Management

CA's betting that IT managers are placing a greater focus on running more effective IT operations.

At this week's CA World, CEO John Swainson pitched IT management and governance as the next breakthrough business discipline -- in the same way supply-chain management earned a new level of respect through the success of companies like Wal-Mart.

That's a tough sell to business folks who associate "IT governance" with the drudgery of Sarbanes-Oxley more than with breakthrough business innovations.

Yet it's not a preposterous notion that there's fresh attention being given to running IT better. Companies across industries are attacking woes like server and data center sprawl -- look at the central role that IT consolidation and improvement plays in Citigroup's recently announced restructuring, which promises to wrench billions of dollars from IT alone.

Swainson, in a keynote speech and press conference, said CA is trying to "reset the agenda" on IT management with its Unified Service Model, a framework for CA's products in security, IT management, and governance. Swainson likened the model to the "one view of the customer" concept in CRM; for IT, that means looking at an IT service everywhere that it's accessed by the business units, and measuring performance based on factors those businesses value.

CA didn't introduce any major new products in the first two days of CA World. Instead, execs have played up how it's integrating the string of acquisitions the company made the past two years. Chief operating officer Michael Christensen says its deal-marking is largely done for now, barring "tech add-ons" that add functionality it needs. "I don't anticipate any $300-$400 million acquisitions" near term, he said.

Even when the focus is on products, CA's history of accounting problems that led to the conviction of several of its former executives, including ex-CEO Sanjay Kumar, is never far from the surface. "CA is back. We're stronger than ever," Swainson said.

In discussing CA's ability to help companies deal with compliance and regulatory issues, Swainson said CA learned a lot through its own rocky journey of getting its financial systems compliant. It's a process that brought insight, although, Swainson said, "it's not one I'd recommend to anyone."

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