CA CEO: Cloud Computing Adoption Underestimated

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Business adoption of cloud computing enablers, from virtualization management to software-as-a-service, is happening faster than even the most optimistic projections, according to BIll McCracken, CEO of CA Technologies. And it's CA's partners and cloud-focused products and services that are among the best positioned in the industry to profit from that trend.

"The rate and pace is going to pick up," McCracken told a gathering of CA solution providers in New York Tuesday, discussing cloud adoption. "The industry estimates are wrong. They're low. You can write that down. It's growing faster and moving faster than we're predicting. The opportunity is standing in front of us."

The kickoff Tuesday of CA's first Channel Summit in several years showed a sense of renewal for the oft-conflicted software management company. A parade of CA executives -- many of whom have been with CA for less than two years -- sought to assure the more than 125 partners in attendance that CA is a channel-focused company, free of the channel conflict and process issues that have plagued its program in the past, not to mention the financial scandal that shattered confidence in CA years ago.

It's time to start a channel renaissance, said CA's leadership team.

"Years from now, we will look back and say this is the group of people we started a new chapter of growth with," said George Fischer, executive vice president and group executive, worldwide sales and operations.

At the heart of CA's strategy is a big bet on the cloud. In October, CA lifted the curtain on a new MSP channel program based off the acquisition it made of 3Tera and 3Tera's AppLogic offering. What's coming next, said CA executives Tuesday, is also a turn toward the midmarket, which CA defines as customers between $200 million and $1 billion in annual revenue and representing a potential $17 billion opportunity for CA and its solution providers.

Cloud is coming fast in the midmarket, executives said. It's coming fast, period -- even to the large enterprise customers that still account for 90 percent of CA's $4.5 billion in annual revenue, and who are hesitant to put aside the massive data centers in which they've invested millions.

But the change is unmistakable, McCracken said. CA is looking at ways to make all of its products deliverable as-a-service.

"Today's technology allows companies to change the way they're able to run their businesses and compete in their business," McCracken said. "Companies have a business model that's built on IT that drives their competition out of business."

In his keynote address, McCracken sought to portray CA as deeply experienced in IT management software, and therefore decades more prepared for the cloud migration than newer entrants to the market.

"We will grow off our base. We're not going into an adjacency," he said. "We have managed and secured IT for 35 years, and that's what's [needed] in the cloud environment now. It's our core, it's what we've done, it's what we've learned, it's what we've made mistakes in. We've probably forgotten more about management than some companies trying to drive into it have yet learned."

In the past two years, CA's spent about $1.2 billion on acquisitions, but also about $600 million on its own technology research and development, he said. That adds up to nearly a $2 billion investment by CA in the cloud environment -- "that's where the growth is coming from," McCracken said.

"You're in the heart of it, and we're in the heart of it," McCracken said. "We need you to partner with us to become who we want to be and grow the way we want to grow."

Next: CA's Focuses For 2011 And Beyond

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