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4/27/2007
05:10 PM
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Is CA Serious About Software Development?

It's promising a more balanced approach between development and acquisitions.

Think of CA, once the definition of the serial-acquirer software company, and "organic development" doesn't leap to mind. But a homegrown mobile device management tool CA has in beta is a sign of things to come.

Can Swainson sell "governance" as business revolution?

Can Swainson sell "governance" as business revolution?

Photo by Erin Lubin/Bloomberg News/Landov
First a word about the tool itself, then what it could mean about CA's buy-vs.-build strategy.

Here's why people need mobile device management software. Asked how many smartphones CA has, CTO Al Nugent says 4,000 or 5,000, then adds "probably more than that. We probably have 10,000." Nugent isn't out of touch; that's the kind of response many a top IT exec would have. Business smartphone use is growing, and IT managers are scrambling to keep up.

CA's mobile device management tool isn't available yet; it's in beta with a few hundred CA employees and a half-dozen customers. Nugent says it will do tasks such as mobile device inventory, remote data wiping, e-mail backup, and device software management. The first version will work for BlackBerry devices, with those based on Windows Mobile to follow. The product fits with CA's mantra to "govern, manage, secure" IT systems.

The product's intriguing on its own but means more if it indeed shows that CA is striking a more balanced mix of acquisition and internal development. "We are focusing our talented people on building creative offerings, rather than reaching for our checkbook," Nugent says.

At last week's CA World, CEO John Swainson pitched IT management and governance as the next breakthrough business discipline--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. Yet there's definitely attention on running IT better, from consolidating data centers and virtualizing servers to reining in mobile devices.

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