CA maps out development priorities

CA maps out development priorities

Computer Associates International hopes to improve sales with a renewed commitment to its channel business and a handful of targeted investments in technology development.

Chief operating officer Jeff Clarke identified five areas in which CA intends to focus its investment funds. First, in its flagship Unicenter line of management software, CA will expend development around service, desktop and asset management technologies.

It will also invest heavily in security management research and development, focusing particularly on identity, access, security information and threat management.

To improve its internal financial controls, CA will buy a standard enterprise resource planning system to replace its homegrown software. SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle are the most likely suppliers for the new system, Clarke said.

CA's other investments will be aimed at expanding its customer base. The company plans to add 150 new employees and improve its infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also add 200 employees to help build its channel business, an initiative which interim chief executive Kenneth Cron called CA's number-one priority this year.

Less than 10% of CA's business currently comes through the channel, Clarke said.

"CA has a very concentrated set of customers and is under-represented internationally," he said. "That's due to an over-reliance on direct sales."

CA introduced at its CA World show a new partner programme intended to give channel resellers access to more products and more flexible licensing terms, along with additional marketing and training support.

CA until recently offered only backup, anti-virus and modelling tool software through the channel, said Gary Quinn, CA's newly appointed head of partner relations. Last year it began selling some BrightStor storage and eTrust security products through resellers, and this year it plans to expand the partner portfolio to Unicenter software.

CA once sold Unicenter through partners, but that effort was fraught with certification problems and conflicts between CA's direct and indirect sales forces. Quinn said he is confident the company has learned from past mistakes: "We've become more channel-savvy."

When asked whether CA considered waiting till a permanent chief executive is in place before tackling new initiatives such as its channel overhaul, Clarke said the company's management and directors were unanimous in agreeing to move forward now.

"Steady is not acceptable," he said. "We need to grow again."

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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