“If you went to bed last night as an industrial company,
you’re going to wake up this morning as a software
and analytics company.” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt
In the late 1980s an analyst said IBM faced two bad choices: it could shoot itself in the foot, make drastic and expensive changes to survive, or it could wait until the market shot it in the head, at which point survival was unlikely. Almost 30 years later, CA Technologies has been grappling with the same dilemma: make drastic and painful changes or hope to survive when the market makes those changes for it.
Originally focused exclusively on the mainframe market when it opened its doors in 1976, the company has set its sights on the Digital Transformation segment in general, and the Application Economy in specific. At November’s annual customer and partner event, CA World 2016, it highlighted its new motto — Built To Change — which pretty much says it all about the opportunity/challenge before it (and the rest of us), a world of constant change where the optimal application of speed and agility to new and emerging business opportunities is becoming the norm.
While mainframes aren’t disappearing any time soon, they’ve long been replaced by other platforms as the ‘compute’ growth engines, so CA’s focus has had to change with the market. The company’s other core competence, software development, has also been under increasing pressure as the world moves to DevOps and the demand for cheap, fast and secure application development that addresses everything from mainframe to mobile, sensors (IoT) to the cloud.
So CA has been remaking itself over the last few years and the new and improved software giant showcased a variety of new and improved offerings last week, including new DevOps capabilities with intelligent analytics and integrations for cloud services and virtual networks, and predictive analytics capabilities with machine learning for the mainframe. The company also reinforced its ‘shift left’ messaging, a term originally applied to moving testing to the left on a timeline, i.e. earlier, in the software development cycle.
However, CA is using the term in a broader context. Customer expectations are never met, said CEO Mike Gregoire, they always want more. “We call that shift left.”
The new digital world is all about “creative disruption and destruction”, said CA’s Ayman Sayed, President and Chief Product Officer, at last week’s event. The world as we know it is changing: “traditional business models are threatened, fading or obsolete,” and the company’s mission is to help customers win digital transformation, “breaking the barriers between ideas and outcomes.”
A big part of the company’s new focus is simplifying things, making it easier for developers, IT and end users, without compromising performance, stated Sayed. “You no longer have to choose between powerful and easy; you can get both.”
“We need to disrupt or be disrupted,” said Sayed during a media/analyst scrum. “We also need to minimize time to value.”
Along with digital, applications, security and change, CA is also focusing on customer value, a term that occured in most of the general and media sessions. As customers figure it out, they’re developing new ways to bring value to their customers, said Rahim Bhatia, SVP, CA API Management, CA. “We’re seeing customers embrace this, and also seeing once they embrace it… they’re seeing new ways of value”.
Digital Transformation has had a big impact on the way CA conducts its business, said Gregoire. “We’re a software company so it affects everything you do.”
For the company, DT means creating products that are easy to install, easy to use, and affordable, he said. “I can’t stress this enough: the role of a company like ours is to make technology easy.”
CA is also releasing up to half a dozen a products a week, and you can’t handle that pace manually, Gregoire added. “It’s completely changed [how we run the business].”
The company is evolving, but that’s an ongoing process, said Gregoire. “We’ve picked up our compete level… but we want our customers to talk about us”.
As for its future directions, the company is looking at containers, microservices and machine learning to improve its products, said Sayed. It has laid out its investment strategies — shifting left again — and most of the focus will be on organic growth, not acquisitions, he added.
Analytics is another “great example”, said CA’s Otto Berkes, EVP & CTO. “Analytics is about making better decisions faster.”
At the end, it’s about changing the conversation from products and tools to outcomes, and speedy outcomes. “The name of the game is velocity,” said Sayed. “That’s what build for change is all about,” added Berkes.
Digitization is an extinction-level event, one that will unfold over the next 7-10 years, and CA believes it is selling the tools that will help its customers survive and thrive. The company is promising a lot, but it appears to have the resources to deliver on that promise.
In other news, yesterday the company announced a new and improved CA Identity Suite, which includes integration with CA Privileged Access Manager for governance of privileged accounts, as well as new deployment options. “The latest release of CA Identity Suite enhances security and time-to-value by providing privileged user governance to help mitigate the insider threat, and proven workflow templates and a new virtual appliance option to dramatically accelerate deployment” said Mordecai Rosen, SVP&GM, CA Security business.
And today, CA announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Automic Holding GmbH, a developer of business automation software, for approximately 600 million euros. It intends to add new cloud-enabled automation and orchestration capabilities across the portfolio and increase its reach into the European market.
DISCLAIMER: I’m a CA shareholder, and the company looked after airfare and accomodations at CAW16.