CA Reinvigorating its Mainframe Software Line

CA is preparing an innovation infusion for its legacy mainframe software products

Last year, CA effectively reinvented itself; it appointed a new CEO (John Swainson), conducted a major reorganization, and closed the books on half a decade of legal wrangling with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (see http://esj.com/Case_Study/article.aspx?EditorialsID=2651).

Along with its reinvention, CA announced creation of several new business units, including (crucially) an organization dedicated exclusively to mainframe sales. At the time, officials touted CA's reorganization -- which eliminated CA's venerable storage unit -- as a clear indication that the company really had charted a new course.

Officials also announced an all-new mainframe business unit into which several of CA's mainframe storage resource management (SRM) tools were funneled, calling it a boon for users of the company's mainframe software. CA, they said, was determined to shrug off its image as a company whose business model consisted mostly of acquiring and rescuing legacy products and maintaining them for their maintenance revenues (see http://esj.com/storage/article.aspx?EditorialsID=2587).

Was this all just marketing spin or something more?

Last week CA unveiled five new mainframe product suites that are repackaged versions of existing products that it says are both more affordable and more intelligently packaged. That alone may not spark significant interest in the company, but CA also kicked off an ambitious new mainframe sales strategy, expanding its mainframe software sales force to compete more aggressively for mainframe software share. What's more, officials claim, CA is prepping an innovation infusion for many of its legacy mainframe software products.

Add it all up, they argue, and you have a company that's making good on its promise of a turnaround.

"CA is focusing on its mainframe business again," says David Hodgson, senior vice president of CA's new mainframe business unit. "About nine months ago, we formed a mainframe business unit and carved out the mainframe product responsibilities from the other business units that we had. [We recognized] that our mainframe business unit was key to our business model and key to our growth, and not just as a maintenance business, but as a source of new revenues."

It all makes for a dramatic renewal of purpose, Hodgson says. "We're refocusing on mainframe development, refocusing on mainframe [product] innovation. We're going to be making some announcements about that [innovation] soon. What we announced last week, [along with these new suites] was that we're refocusing on sales. We're focusing on expanding our [mainframe] sales efforts and getting some dedicated mainframe sales presence [out in the channel]."

CA unveiled five new mainframe software suites:

  • Mainframe Security Management Suite helps identify exposures, validate security system integrity and effectiveness, and take corrective action to safeguard information assets and improve performance
  • A new Tape Utilization and Compliance Suite helps customers secure information with encryption, improve utilization, and simplify migration or consolidation projects
  • Its Mainframe Resource Management Suite facilitates IT financial reporting, capacity planning, and system performance tuning
  • The Mainframe Database Performance Management Suite can pinpoint DB2 for z/OS performance issues across subsystems, objects, applications and SQL
  • The Mainframe Automated Storage Optimization Suite unifies storage management operations by automating the monitoring and analysis of DASD, tapes, tape management systems, robotics, and virtual tape systems

Priced to Move

For the most part, Hodgson concedes, the new suites are repackaged versions of CA's existing mainframe software assets. "We're continuing to develop these, put new enhancements in, keep them current, [and we're] packaging them up so that customers who have maybe one or two products in an area can get the rest of the CA product offerings in that area at an advantageous price," he explains. "It's really a way of simplifying what we have, both for our customers and, frankly, for our mainframe sales force. We're refocusing by creating a sales force with a focus on selling these specific products."

The repackaged suites are also priced to move, Hodgson claims.

"We've aligned ourselves with IBM's [MSU pricing] strategy to better meet what we think is the expectation of our customers in the marketplace, [which is] to really deliver what we think is an unbeatable price-performance curve," he indicates, citing Big Blue's much-ballyhooed -- and occasionally misunderstood -- MSU pricing dividend (see http://esj.com/News/article.aspx?EditorialsID=2483).

Just what kind of price cuts can customers expect? A site with 1,000 MSUs (or 7,000 MIPS) could cut costs by up to one-third by adopting CA's new MSU-based pricing model.

The cost-savings are undeniable, Hodgson says: "As people upgrade to bigger machines, there isn't a linear relationship to price -- it isn't tied to MIPS in the traditional way it's been, so customers can leverage what IBM is trying to do by putting out more and more powerful machines and really redefining the relationship of MIPS to MSUs."