It was with a note of caution that Information Age reported in June 2004 that management software vendor Computer Associates had already printed up T-shirts for its 2005 customer conference. After a series of shareholder revolts, an attempted boardroom coup and years of accounting controversies, it seemed a touch optimistic.
In the event, the pre-prepared T-shirts did go to waste. However, it was a deliberate act of sabotage: a week before the conference the vendor launched a massive re-branding programme, aiming to put previous woes behind it.
Alongside a new name – CA – the company has a new logo, and a plethora of new executives, including CEO, COO CFO and several more c-level positions.
The abbreviated name is intended to reflect its new mantra of “simplification and integration”. The ‘new’ CA has redefined its core business: in future it will focus on enterprise IT management (EITM), comprised of four key market areas – enterprise systems and network management; security management; storage management; and business service optimisation.
“We’ve been in a lot of different markets and we’ve maybe had a reputation for not being the best in any of them,” said CEO John Swainson. “I see CA’s job as understanding how to manage every aspect of our customer’s IT environment, from legacy systems to the newest environment,” he added.
The first result of this new focus was CA’s decision to spin off its relational database system, Ingres, in November 2005. While CA has kept a 20% stake in the unit, its strategic importance to CA was clearly waning. “With IBM and Oracle making such massive investment it just wouldn’t be prudent for us to drive investments in this area,” explained Jeff Clarke, CA’s chief operating officer.
“Those areas which aren’t strategic we’ll maintain to keep stability to the platform but we won’t make significant investments in them.”
Likewise, application lifecycle management (ALM), whilst identified as a good market is no longer seen by CA as strategic, but the tax costs associated with divestitures mean that a maintenance approach makes more sense financially.
But not everyone has bought into to CA’s new vision. “It’s a bit perplexing because I don’t see it really does anything,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, an analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, of CA’s EITM re-branding strategy. “The whole [user] event – including EITM – was as much about trying to galvanise the company internally as it was about telling the outside world.”
Finally rid of unwelcome distractions, CA has clearly voiced its intentions, but there’s still a long way to go. “CA has talked about this before: they can explain what they want to do, but now they’ve got no excuses,” says Ward-Dutton.