Behind CA’s Storage Reshuffle

The move will likely have mixed impact on most CA customers, although mainframe shops should expect some benefits

CA last week announced a plan to disband its venerable storage unit and disperse its storage products across three other CA technology groups—including two newly formed units, CA’s Mid-Market and its Storage and Mainframe business units.

The move could benefit CA but will likely have mixed impact on customers, according to Gartner analysts Dave Russell and Carolyn DiCenzo, who discussed CA’s move in a recent Gartner Research note.

First, the basics. "There will no longer be an overall storage business unit containing all the company's storage assets," the pair note. In the past, Russell and DiCenzo point out, CA’s Storage Management business unit was charged with promoting a dizzying array of storage management offerings, including products for recovery management, such as ARCServe (which CA acquired a decade ago from the former Cheyenne) and CA-1 (its mainframe backup and recovery solution).

Elsewhere, CA’s Storage Management unit marketed products for resource management—including, most importantly, CA Storage Resource Manager (CA’s open-systems SRM offering) and CA-Vantage (its mainframe SRM component)—and Information Management.

Just how does CA plan to split things up? For starters, the company’s new Mid-Market and Storage business unit will manage ARCserve, XOsoft, and CA’s Desktop DNA management products. One upshot of this, Russell and DiCenzo say, is that CA is effectively exiting the fiercely competitive distributed storage management business—at least in the enterprise segment—where it competes with the likes of EMC Corp., IBM Corp., and Symantec Corp.

On the other hand, Russell and DiCenzo point out, CA appears ready to redouble its efforts in the midmarket. That’s a risky strategy for a vendor such as CA, which has never had much in the way of channel chops. "[S]ince the midmarket is a fast-moving sector of the IT market, CA has an opportunity to use this new business unit and its current midmarket products to develop a more robust channel program," they write. "In the past, CA’s success in working with the channel has been limited. This effort must succeed quickly if the recovery products are to thrive."

Elsewhere, CA’s Message Manager and MDY FileSurf (a records management offering) will be folded into its Business Services Optimization (BSO) unit. Russell and DiCenzo see this as a sensible move. "Since part of the unit focuses on governance, the alignment with records management and e-mail archiving solutions could be a good fit," they point out.

Not so for CA’s SRM product, which CA has also slotted for its BSO group. Russell and DiCenzo aren’t optimistic about this proposed reshuffling. "The SRM product is capable, but has not been widely adopted because customers typically purchase this functionality from the storage array vendor," they write. "The Enterprise Systems Management (ESM) unit would have been a better fit for SRM. Given this poor fit, this move raises serious concerns over the future of the SRM solution."

Finally, CA’s mainframe SRM products will be funneled into its new Mainframe business units. This almost certainly portends an uptick in mainframe-focused marketing from CA and—marketing hyperbole aside—should be a good thing, at least for users of those products. "CA is looking to increase its mainframe-focused marketing and sales to compete better against IBM," the Gartner analysts indicate.

"CA has credible—even unique and compelling—mainframe storage offerings. If successful, this long-overdue reorganization could have a positive effect by enabling CA to better promote its mainframe assets, which were often buried in the former Storage unit."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.