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Computer Associates is readying plans to integrate components of the AllFusion suite with its network-management software to compete more aggressively against IBM's Rational and Tivoli software brands, sources close to the company say.
The plan, part of CA's on-demand computing strategy, echoes that of Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and other vendors that are tying together software assets to provide applications and services that can be redeployed or provisioned on the fly.
"Everyone is trying to have software that will interoperate between different platforms, and they want to create an atmosphere that they can provide [customers] with everything they need," says Javed Matin, CEO of Myriad Solutions, a solution provider. "That's one of the things CA would like to do, too."
As a component of on-demand computing, some vendors are building out their application life-cycle-management strategies so that applications are better built from the ground up.
For example, IBM recently began offering integration between Rational Robot, a testing and monitoring tool, and the Tivoli Monitor for Transaction Performance, which monitors network response time and availability, as well as identifies transaction failures.
Using Rational Robot, developers can simulate the number of users on an application and see how the network will react as a way to prevent and anticipate network failures before an application is deployed, says Eric Naiburg, market manager of desktop products at IBM Rational. IBM also plans more integration between Rational Tools and Tivoli, as it does between components of all of its software brands, including WebSphere and DB2.
Similarly, at its Professional Developers Conference in October, Microsoft demonstrated a new modeling tool that will map an application model to network topology to help ensure that the application will run properly once deployed, bringing testing and monitoring to play as part of the development process, not as an afterthought. The new tool, code-named Whitehorse, is slated to be a part of the next version of Visual Studio .Net, code-named Whidbey, which Microsoft says will be available later this year.
CA is working on similar product engineering with its AllFusion suite, sources tell CRN. The AllFusion brand contains seven products, including a leading data-modeling tool, the ERwin Data Modeler. Other AllFusion products are Model Manager, Process Modeler, Component Modeler, Model Navigator, Data Model Validator, and Saphir Option for ERP.
Together, these products are as strong as any application life-cycle-management package out there, says Rikki Kirzner, a research director at IDC. However, aside from the ERwin product, the AllFusion products aren't as well-known as they should be, mainly because of poor marketing by CA, she says. The AllFusion "suite is mature, solid, and well-integrated, but [CA] has not done a good job of marketing it or bundling it," Kirzner says. "It's not real clear to the outsider [as to] what I'm supposed to do to buy this."
Careful marketing, however, could make the tools, along with CA's network-management software, a serious threat to IBM's strategy to integrate components across its various software brands, solution providers say.
"If CA gets their act together they will be a force to be reckoned with," Myriad's Matin says. CA has "a lot of technology in their bag of tools."
"If anybody can go up against IBM, CA can," IDC's Kirzner agrees.
CA seems to be taking steps to help them better market AllFusion. The company recently hired former Forrester Research analyst John Meyer as VP of business strategy and product management for both the AllFusion and the information management software CleverPath brands to help them get the right message across to the market.
The company also is planning a channel push around its tools with new discounted software bundles that will pair AllFusion modeling tools with complementary technologies such as database and application management, says Shari Shore, VP of product marketing at AllFusion. The new bundles should be out by midyear, she says.
Channel partners might well be CA's secret weapon against competitors in the software arena. CA currently sells about 50% of its tools through the channel and has never had a stronger model for working with partners, Myriad's Matin says.
"Their channel model right now is hard to compete with," Matin says.
The outlook is not rosy on all fronts for CA, however. Two weeks ago, Nanci Li, wife of founder Charles Wang and CEO of the company's highly touted iCanSP managed-services subsidiary, resigned unexpectedly.
That news came on the heels of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issuing CA a "Wells notice," a procedural letter that informed the company of potential legal action related to questionable accounting practices during fiscal 2000.