Computer Associates is ramping up efforts to move its core management products to Linux.
By doing so, the software giant is strengthening its cross-platform systems management strategies relative to its rivals IBM-Tivoli, Hewlett-Packard, OpenView and BMC Software.
CA is also consolidating a complex set of third-party security products that would make it one of the few companies to offer an integrated security and management solution.
"We will have the ability to manage [security] across the enterprise, whether it is firewall related, network attacks, or viruses," said Sanjay Kumar, CA's president and chief executive officer.
"We will support ISS, Check Point, Cisco, Symantec, and McAfee with detailed product integration kits that can collect, reduce, and visualise data."
Many companies have tried to develop solid, multiplatform management-and-security architectures, but few have woven Linux into existing Unix and Windows platforms.
"If a platform like Linux is to be seriously considered as part of the enterprise architecture, it has to be secured and managed like any other business asset," said Dan Kuznetzky, vice president in charge of software architectures and platforms at market research firm IDC.
Kuznetzky added that CA has targeted Linux directly as a "significant opportunity" to satisfy the requirements of existing users and to snare accounts from companies that had not previously considered CA.
Many observers consider only three or four companies capable of delivering a complete security and systems management solution, including CA, HP, BMC Software, and IBM.
Of that select few, IBM appears to have an early lead.
IBM has steadily ported its bread-and-butter software infrastructure products to Linux over past several years, winning plenty of business along the way.
IBM's Linux-based security and management applications strategy was dictated by the rapid adoption of the open-source operating system by many of its larger customers, the company reports.
Enterprises initially adopted Linux to run low-level tasks - such as file and print services and rudimentary Web services - before they brought in higher-level applications to manage and secure those functions.
"Instead of making a big splash by porting all our products over at once, the approach we took with Tivoli was to time the release of various management and security capabilities at about the same speed that users were adopting those different capabilities," said Dean Zerhaeghe, IBM's director of market management for Tivoli. "So as Linux matured in the enterprise, the wider the scope of our portfolio became."
Show me the goods
One product key to CA's integrated systems approach is its eTrustCommand Center. The solution serves as the conduit that collects security event information and centrally manages and unifies its complete set of security offerings as well as third-party security tools.
Running on CA's CleverPath portal, Command Center assimilates data from a wide range of enterprise security hardware and software. It does not require a plug-in in for CA's flagship Unicenter systems management platform.
By extending the system and network management and, more importantly, the mainframe and low-end systems management, CA is simplifying security management of a heterogeneous environment, said Chris Christiansen, program vice-president, eBusiness Infrastructure and Internet Security Software at IDC.
"Among large customers there's a great desire to assimilate security into a broader infrastructure platform. I don't think everyone is comfortable with anybody's solution, [be it] CA, IBM, Symantec, Cisco, or Microsoft," Christiansen said.
"Even there, among that limited group there's going to be a high degree of centricity around certain products and orientations, but it [begins with] systems and network management."
However, Christiansen said CA must partner more to reach its desired goal of becoming "a manager of systems managers".
Kumar acknowledged the herculean task of integrating and managing traditionally disparate security products, even those from staunch competitors.
"One of the differentiators for CA is we've always focused on providing enterprise-wide, heterogeneous support for managing the enterprise, and it's no different with security," Kumar said. "It is a big job. It is no different than the job we've always had with Unicenter in terms of managing all of the different environments."
Preparing for change
Some CA customers will use their unified security and management CA products as a springboard that will allow the supplier to guide their organisations through a Linux transition.