Services & Software

CA joins the on-demand crowd

At NetWorld+Interop, Computer Associates outlines its vision for delivering on-demand computing through its Unicenter systems management product.

Computer Associates International on Tuesday threw its hat into the ring of companies touting the benefits of on-demand computing.

At the NetWorld+Interop conference in Las Vegas, the company described enhancements to its Unicenter product line that allow companies to make better use of their existing computing resources, including servers and storage devices. Unicenter is a suite of products for monitoring and managing corporate networks.

CA Chief Executive Sanjay Kumar outlined the company's vision for on-demand computing and how Unicenter fits into that plan.

Kumar said in a speech that "everyone has a vision of computing on-demand" but that "we believe that the benefits of on-demand computing can be achieved largely through IT management--not extensive overhauls of IT structures.

"It's not about switching out servers; it's not about the latest generation of hardware," he added. "It's about platform-neutral computing that allows you to use what you have more effectively and efficiently."

CA introduced a new Unicenter application for "dynamic reconfiguration," which is designed to provision servers and software automatically based on changing workloads. Other Unicenter application enhancements are geared at creating a view of the computing infrastructure that a particular business application depends on.

By monitoring the software and hardware that underpins specific business services, companies can better prevent application glitches and allocate resources more efficiently, according to CA.

Islandia, N.Y.-based CA joins other large technology providers, notably IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, in developing so-called on-demand, or utility computing, products. The idea of on-demand computing is that companies can be more thrifty and flexible by purchasing computing resources as needed, as they do with electricity, and by making better use of storage and server capacity.

The plans at HP, Sun and IBM for on-demand computing have focused primarily on better management of corporate data centers, in which companies house hundreds of server and storage devices. Unicenter is a well-established systems management product in data centers and competes with products such as IBM's Tivoli, HP's OpenView and BMC Software's Patrol.

Compared with HP's and IBM's products, those from CA and BMC have the advantage of not being tied to specific hardware as they launch their on-demand systems management strategies, said Richard Ptak, an analyst at Ptak & Associates.

"You have to link the operating and management of (hardware) resources on behalf of the business, and for that you need management," Ptak said. "Because so much of (on-demand computing) is the management piece, BMC and CA are in a real good position to contribute in this space and be competitive without being tied to underlying infrastructure."