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CA hones utility computing plan

At its customer conference in Las Vegas, the software maker introduces new tools designed to better manage utility computing.

Computer Associates International on Monday launched new tools designed to better manage utility computing.

At a customer conference in Las Vegas, the software company detailed new products and technology under development designed to help companies better manage complex networks and computing resources on a pay-as-you-use basis.

CA executives announced a project called Sonar, which the company says is a key piece of CA's strategy for managing utility computing, or what it also calls on-demand computing. CA said the tools could help lower the administrative burden required to maintain and fix corporate systems.

The Islandia, N.Y.-based company is engaged in a battle with industry heavyweights IBM, Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems to develop technology for utility computing.

Under the industry's utility computing vision, computing power will be served up like electricity or water. Ideally, outages will become less frequent and corporations will be able to use their installed base of hardware and software in a much more efficient manner through automated equipment provisioning and servers that can warn of impending equipment failures.

CA executives said Sonar software can link a company's technology infrastructure to specific business processes. By mapping the underlying servers and networks that support given business applications, CA executives said, a company can make better use of its computing resources and save money. For example, a bank could use CA's network monitoring technology to prioritize computing problems, so a glitch with an automatic teller machine gets fixed before a minor printer malfunction gets fixed.

Sonar technology will be used in CA's Unicenter systems management line, as well as in its storage management and eTrust network security products, according to a CA representative. The first editions of products using the new network monitoring technology will be available later this year. CA has an established base with large corporations that use its Unicenter systems product line for tracking the operations of corporate networks.

In the next six months to 18 months, CA expects to be able to automatically create maps for 75 percent of a company's applications, David Hochhauser, vice president of CA's Unicenter brand unit, said recently. CA is also looking to enhance its Unicenter line gradually with the ability to better provision hardware and software in reaction to spikes in demand and to introduce more "self-healing" capabilities, in which applications can fix glitches without human intervention, he said.

More responsive computing systems is the CA's key design goal for its management products, Sanjay Kumar, CA's CEO, said in a statement Sunday.

"Flexibility will become the key differentiator because there is no way we can predict what the future will be," Kumar said. "We believe that the key to reaping the benefits of on-demand is management."

CA also outlined a companywide initiative to incorporate Web services across the company's product portfolio, a representative said. Web services is a set of programming conventions and protocols that allow business systems to more easily share information.