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CA adds financial view to management

An update to Computer Associates' management software lets users bill for IT services based on usage.

Computer Associates International on Tuesday released management software designed to give businesses a better understanding of the costs associated with their computing systems.

The company on Monday introduced an update to its Unicenter IT Service Management line of applications. The Unicenter programs are designed to track the performance of the components used to deliver a business application. A company could use CA's software to measure the use of the hardware and software, such as servers, storage and desktop software, needed to run a sales order entry application.

The financial tools work in conjunction with CA's Unicenter monitoring software, which tracks performance and usage of network components. The suite, first introduced earlier this year, will give companies another way to measure use of IT equipment and software, CA executives said.

"Customers want to be able to define IT in terms of service for the business, not infrastructure elements, and be able to charge back for that based on actual utilization, not some flat basis like number of employees," said Lokesh Jindal, Computer Associates' director of product marketing.

The Unicenter IT Service Management suite includes a program for creating a consolidated view of the technology components required to deliver a business service, such as a sales application. The suite also includes a mechanism to meter usage of resources, which will let IT departments charge different corporate departments for use of shared resources, such as a common database server.

Business service management tools help companies get a better handle on computing costs through more sophisticated management software. These programs create a model of a business application and track the performance of the individual components used to run an application. Computer Associates is one of many companies developing such applications.

BMC Software introduced an update this week to a scheduling application meant to reduce system downtime by spotting dependencies between administrative tasks, such as issuing software patches. Other management companies in the field include IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Mercury Interactive.

CA's service management applications are also a step in the company's long-term plans to unify its management software components. The company's plan is to improve the integration of its management tools, such as help-desk software and software distribution tools, by using common components, such a single data model and user interface.

Its Unicenter IT Service Management products allow customers to define common practices, or workflows, across Unicenter programs. A company can automate a procedure so that patches are sent out once a month. Rather than write new script for each Unicenter component, that same patching process can be used with CA's software distribution and its configuration management, said Juliette Sultan, senior vice president of product marketing.