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Server Den: CA Seeks IT Automation Sweet Spot

Don Ferguson, chief technology officer of CA Technologies, talks about work to build IT management tools that'll bring transparency to highly virtual and dynamic enterprise architectures.

Dynamicism is a word that's hard to say three times fast, yet probably describes quite well where data centers architectures are headed. As in, the proliferation of virtual processor instances and of network sprawl is creating a confusing situation with lots of IT bodies in motion.

It's the aim of Don Ferguson [picture at right], chief technology officer of CA Technologies, to bring some clarity to the situation. Whether you're talking on-premise or cloud, or more likely the hybrid architectures most enterprises are tilting towards, Don is leading the charge to build effective management tools.

Ferguson's career has prepared him for the challenge. Prior to signing on at CA in 2008, he was a technical fellow at Microsoft. That followed a 20-year career at IBM, where he also rose to the technical fellow rank and cuts his management-tools teeth leading the WebSphere and Tivoli teams.

We talked about the work he's currently championing to develop management software adept enough to play in the emerging world where dynamicism rules.

InformationWeek: What's your big area of focus?

Don Ferguson: My goal is to make managing IT environment 10 times simpler than it is today.

InformationWeek: How do you get there?

Ferguson: One way is via integration. You have a single, logical place where you can go to understand and manage IT. You don't have to run around from system to system. The unified service model builds on and reuses the system that you have, but it integrates the information.

It'll show you a graphical, end-to-end transactional view of your application, so it's not only pulling information together but it moves it up a level closer to the way that you think conceptually. Then, once you have that abstraction, you can connect it to various user interfaces and modeling tools.

InformationWeek: Tell us about some of the related elements you're thinking about.

Ferguson: Informed optimization. We are, by various mechanisms, providing applications and systems that will recommend the optimal action to take. What we want to do is start introducing intelligent, decision-making optimization so that we can recommend the actions you should take and then automate the process, as opposed to just having you guess.

InformationWeek: What type of things are you referring to when you say optimized? Optimized movement of data, employment of virtual instances?

Ferguson: It would be all of those things. It's an extensible environment--as we add capabilities we expand it out. If you have a physical grid and you have a pool of virtual images, it will optimize based on service objectives. If you are getting a set of alerts from system, it will analyze the alert and recommend what preventative action you should take.

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