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CA chief draws software road map

Computer Associates chairman and CEO Charles Wang details product plans for the more than 20,000 attendees of the company's user conference.

    NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana--Computer Associates (CA) chairman and CEO Charles Wang kicked off the company's CA World 97 user conference here with strong words for competitors in the enterprise management software market.

    A throng of approximately 20,000 CA devotees were treated to a spectacle of dry ice, explosions, and the illusionary tactics of a magician dressed like a bumble bee amid Wang's words.

    CA has sometimes been accused of being slow to adopt standards and to open up its platforms, but Wang dived into the multiprotocol, multisystem enterprise management software rhetoric with new abandon during his keynote. Add a few hints of the week's news, as well as a Wang magic trick, and the speech served as a telling statement of where the $4 billion software monolith is headed.

    "CA is the only choice for business software to run your entire enterprise," Wang boasted to a cavernous hall of attendees. "We need to empower [businesses] to do things we could never do before."

    CA provides database, enterprise management, systems management, and business software applications to Fortune 500 companies, with nearly 95 percent penetration of that elite corporate sector, according to internal estimates.

    Wang highlighted the benefits of a new Jasmine multimedia database during his speech, which he said would ship within 90 days. CA World attendees will receive a free copy of the software while they are here.

    As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, Wang also announced the new Unicenter TNG Framework, breaking out a base set of services for the management software platform to allow third parties to write applications for it. The CEO called it an "undeniable attraction" for developers who want a common way to develop applications across a disparate network. He also continued to characterize the platform as the "de facto standard" for the industry, despite players like IBM subsidiary Tivoli Systems.

    And Wang also hinted at a new series of management agents that are expected to be announced today that will expand the breadth of the company's flagship TNG product. "Intelligent agents will soon be as hot an industry term as NC and Web commerce," Wang predicted.

    A yellow-and-black clad magician, calling himself Cyber Man, also entertained the crowd with a series of tricks that followed on the company's "magic of software" theme. There was only one glitch in the magic display: part of the video promoting Unicenter TNG featured freshly ousted Apple chief Gil Amelio.

    CA World continues through this week.