CA unveils simplified suite, SaaS portfolio

Enterprise IT executives want to buy management software now: as integrated bundles and via subscription.

CA this week introduced a slew of product enhancements that industry watchers say reflect how enterprise IT executives want to buy management software now: as integrated bundles and via subscription.

The company, while hosting 5,000 attendees at its CA World 2008 conference in Las Vegas this week, unveiled upgrades across several product suites and expanded its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings by hosting more management applications and adopting subscription pricing options. Industry watchers says the company's move toward advanced integration -- to the point of selling the applications as a cohesive package -- shows CA hears customer complaints and is working to address them.

"CA is simplifying how companies can buy integrated capabilities. Instead of buying four different CA products, you have one package that incorporates the four products, you get everything at a lower per-user price point and you get the package implemented in a standardized way," says Jasmine Noel, a principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates.

For instance, CA Service Desk Manager 12 unifies service desk, change management, configuration management database, application dependency mapping, knowledge management, remote support automation and reporting capabilities. The product should help customers looking to adopt best-practices and move away from ad hoc tasks to more streamlined processes.

"Customers are starting to buy all products related to a specific process, such as incident management, from a single vendor," Noel says. "Customers are shifting from a task-based approach to managing IT to a process-based approach. They don't want to deal with integrating a bunch of task-based tools into a cohesive solution supporting a repeatable process."

CA has incorporated new features into the bundled product as well. Now the software includes role-based user interfaces based on the ITIL best practice framework that can be personalized depending on an individual's position. It also features a change management schedule that lets all users of the application see scheduled changes in a calendar view to better assess potential impact and minimize downtime due to changes. And the software now segregates data, processes and roles in a multi-tenancy manner to reflect IT support organizations that service multiple internal and external customers, CA says.

"We simplified the licensing of the product and included playbooks that detail repeatable methodologies based on years of experience to help companies support ITIL or other best practice frameworks," says Kathy Shoop, vice president of CA Service Management.

Scheduled to be available in December, Service Desk Manager 12 will be priced "as an attractive upgrade for existing customers" of the previously stand-alone applications that are now bundled together.

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