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11/17/2008
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CA Unveils Cloud Management Strategy, SaaS Unit

CA unveiled Monday a cloud computing strategy that includes management as a service and management of third party cloud computing environments such as Amazon's EC2.

The current wave of cloud computing spread with point products like CRM before moving into infrastructure services and "platforms" from companies like Amazon and Google. Now, even management is getting into the act. On Monday, CA unveiled a broad cloud computing strategy that includes management as a service and management of third party cloud computing environments.

In order to provide management as a service, CA has opened a new SaaS business unit, and will use "On Demand" as the branding for its cloud services. Having hosted software through partners for a few years, the company is just now getting skin in the game on its own, earlier this year introducing Clarity Portfolio and Project Management On Demand. On Sunday, CA announced Governance, Risk and Compliance Manager On Demand and, for business continuity services, Instant Recovery On Demand.

The strategy, however, is more sweeping. CA will ultimately include a service element or SaaS version of just about every CA product. According to Jules Ehrlich, CA On Demand SVP, this is a "non-trivial task" that will take a few years to play out and includes CA building a consistent underlying platform on which its services will run, though no new data center build-out for now.

Erlich said in an interview that cloud-based management will bring an ability to get installed and running quickly, a big departure from some on premises management software. Management is a natural fit for the cloud, he said, because IT orgs want to focus on strategy, not keeping the lights on.

For example, as CA pushes into application management as a service, CA's new management services represent a shift from the management model many companies are used to. CA itself will be helping businesses meet service level agreements for their own on-premise apps by doing things like performance management and benchmarking, instead of the customer setting benchmarks and managing the apps themselves.

In the beginning, he says, many of CA's cloud services will likely be either point products like Clarity PPM or locally deployed but remotely managed software. Some management software, like event monitoring, may never make it to the cloud because it needs to be on premises near hardware and applications.

There are a variety of opportunities for CA to manage companies' cloud computing resources, including discovery, health and performance monitoring, change and configuration tracking, and provisioning additional cloud computing capacity.

The first step is setting up partnerships with companies like Amazon and VMware that host and power the cloud. On Monday, CA will announce a partnership with Amazon to provide management capabilities around Amazon's EC2 utility computing platform, potentially including discovery of software running on EC2 instances, performance monitoring, configuration management, software deployment capabilities and provisioning. It's still early days. "We're just at the cusp of thinking," Stephen Elliot, CA's VP of strategy for infrastructure management and data center automation, said in an interview.

CA joins a small slate of start-ups like Hyperic and RightScale that can also monitor and manage EC2 apps. Hyperic's HQ 4.0 suite, unveiled last week, can monitor EC2 app performance.

But as customers venture further into cloud computing, they'll increasingly look for more unified management, Elliot said. While some companies today provide some baseline management and extensive administration capabilities and will continue to do so, CA could eventually act to manage multiple clouds at once and likely more deeply than the cloud vendors' own management software. "It's nice to have an independent company like CA focus on management rather than having the company itself say, hey, we're delivering this for you, take a look at our portal," he said.

CA Data Center Automation Manager is being upgraded to help IT organizations automatically provision and manage cloud computing resources and their service levels as needed. It's also being touted as software cloud service providers themselves can use to manage their own environments via features like virtualization and performance management.

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