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CA opens Net Business

Computer Associates creates a new business unit for electronic commerce and Web content services, targeting both enterprise and small business markets.

Computer Associates today announced the creation of a new business unit focusing on electronic commerce and Web content services at the CA World conference in New Orleans. The company also announced a series of partnerships with software and hardware makers.

The company's new Internet Business Unit will offer Web content hosting, development, as well as creation and management services. CA is targeting both the enterprise and small-business markets with corporate and community Web services.

CA is attempting to capitalize on its position as a leading vendor of software to Fortune 500 corporations. The added ability to provide Web hosting and development services may give the company the added cache it needs to win contracts to provide corporatewide software and services.

CA's corporate Web services will offer comprehensive Web site attention, from the creation of a site to its updating and management. CA will also analyze the effectiveness of a company's Web use and how it might use the Internet to gain a competitive advantage. IBM and Oracle offer similar services.

Where CA will differ from competitors is in its approach to small businesses, a new market for the classically enterprise-focused software maker.

The community Web services concept will let small businesses "live together in a shared domain," according to sources close to the company. In other words, a group of eateries in a particular geographical region could all have links on a giant home page hosting thousands of establishments.

Analysts said CA's entry into the Internet services market may not be as out of character as it seems.

"I think it's an absolute must-do for CA, just like it's a must-do for any software company," said Waverly Deutsch, an analyst at Forrester Research, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consulting firm.

Deutsch noted that CA may have some particular advantages in the Internet services market, leveraging Web-enabled versions of the CA-Unicenter TNG systems management platform, the Jasmine object-oriented development environment, and the CA-OpenIngres database.

CA sources said the business model is to charge these small businesses a discounted fee for the creation and management of a site, and then receive a percentage for each transaction completed over the Web. So, for example, if there's a regional clothing home page, CA would get a percentage of any transaction involving shirts and pants at a particular store.

CA would use its existing products, as well as offer templates and browser-based content management tools to customers.

The new division will offer the Web Database Wizard, a browser-based toolset for managing Web site content via a CA-OpenIngres database; CA-Unicenter/ICE (Internet Commerce Enabled), a Unicenter add-on for Web server management; an ICE version of OpenIngres that is HTML-enabled for Internet use; and the Jasmine development environment, for multimedia Web site content.

Several sites are already using CA's services. Announcements on the deals will be released this week. A partnership agreement targeted at the community Web services concept will also be announced at CA World.

Separately, CA and Intel today announced increased management capabilities between CA's Unicenter TNG systems management tool and Intel servers, based around a Server Management Module board that collects data about Pentium Pro servers.

Via the Desktop Management Interface (DMI) and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), data and alerts can be sent from the Intel board--which is powered independent of the box--to the Unicenter management console.

Intel officials said the Server Management Module board is distinct from similar offerings from Compaq Computer and IBM because of Unicenter-TNG's ability to correlate the data the board collects from the server. No pricing for the management tools was announced.

CA also announced a joint development and cross-licensing agreement with Tandem Computer that will eventually let a Unicenter TNG administrator manage a clustered Microsoft Windows NT, Unix or Tandem Himilaya server environment from a single console.

Tandem has reinvented itself recently by embracing Windows NT and offering key internal high-availability technology, such as its ServerNet software and hardware clustering interconnect technology, to the marketplace. A cluster-aware version of Unicenter would let an administrator manage a cluster of servers as one system or separately if there is a server failure.

Clustering technologies will soon have high-availability fail-over features that redistribute application processes across a cluster of servers if one server fails. Currently, fail-over from one server to another is all PC server manufacturers can offer. Unix vendors have offered distributed clustering solutions for some time.

Compaq Computer and NEC Technologies already have plans to implement the ServerNet technology in their systems. Dell Computer is expected to announce support for ServerNet soon.