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CA making smarter network tools

The company plans new agent technology for its enterprise management software suite to automate many of the tasks currently performed by administrators.

Management software may soon get a cerebral boost.

Software giant Computer Associates (CA) will demonstrate new agent technology at its upcoming user conference in April for its flagship Unicenter TNG enterprise management software suite that will automate many of the tasks currently performed by administrators, according to sources.

CA gained the technology via the December acquisition of AI Ware, a veteran provider of predictive software applications. The technology is often referred to as "artificial intelligence," since the software can essentially analyze network problems and react to them without human interference.

"Artificial intelligence software has the unique capability of learning from experience," said Ed Wilson, managing director for CA's AI Ware division.

Active agents based on AI Ware's technology will likely reside on devices and systems managed by Unicenter. Those agents will then collect data, feed it into a predictive software engine, and a resulting solution will be triggered, if necessary.

A likely use of the technology is in performance monitoring, for example, where the application can learn what are normal thresholds for various network elements and what are not, adjusting as a network continues to run. The technology could also be useful in CA's object-oriented Jasmine database.

"We're through the hype and into the concrete applications solutions," Wilson said.

Some analysts beleive the technology, to be demonstrated at this year's CA World, could be a key component in the company's drive to make Unicenter a "de facto standard" for management software vs. competitors like Tivoli Systems and Hewlett-Packard.

"If they're able to deliver on what the early indications are of what they are planning, it will give them a significant advantage," said Richard Ptak, director of systems management research at D.H. Brown Associates. "If CA manages to pull this off, it will be a very big step forward. They will raise the bar in distributed management capability."