CA's Nugent Sheds Light On Upcoming Release Of Unicenter

Computer Associates Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Unicenter business Alan Nugent, who took the helm overseeing CA's crown jewel Unicenter product suite on April 8, recently spoke with CRN News Editor Steven Burke about plans for the new r11 Unicenter suite and other issues. Below are excerpts.

CRN: What are your plans as the head of the new Unicenter division?

Nugent: I am going to follow the overall strategy that (Computer Associates CEO) John (Swainson) and the executive team are putting in place which is to be a leader in the market of networked services. As you doubtless know, we did an acquisition [of Concord Communications] and we are in the process of doing that integration of the Concord team. I think that is going to add a lot of value to the product (Unicenter).

We are also in the process of beta testing our r11, which is the next major release of the entire Unicenter product suite. We will be shipping that later this summer. And we are going to continue to drive the product value and direction. We are going to add to the pillars of network management, systems management, app management, database management, etc. We are also going to drive up and create opportunities to build an IT service layer for IT management and then a sister business unit called BSO, Business Systems Optimization, that is going to be creating that business process view that will link the IT services view. Business people look at business stuff. IT executives and management looks at IT services stuff. And the good old guys that do all the hardware still look at the things they want to look at.

CRN: Talk about r11. How big a release is it and what is it going to mean to the channel?

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Nugent: It is a major overhaul of the product from its previous incarnation. A couple of the highlights is it has a complete autodiscovery process and it is a continuous autodiscovery. It is always watching the environment to see if anything new has been brought in. It has something called the MDB, the management database. All of the tools are talking to a common data model and a data engine. That just makes integration a whole lot easier than it used to be. We also have built a lot of interfaces around the product and also a lot of bridging technology to other people's products so we'll be able to coexist better with maybe an OpenView or something like that.

CRN: What kind of interoperability are you looking at?

Nugent: We haven't announced yet what all those product sets are, but you can pretty much guess. What I'd really like to be able to do, and I am not suggesting this will be in r11, what I want to be able to do is go in and reach into an OpenView database and pluck out all of the information stored in it. Those are the kinds of things we are thinking about: how to use the technology to become a better service provider, a better product provider for our customers.

CRN: There was a move to componentize Unicenter. Where is that at?

Nugent: That is really what r11 is about. If you look at it it is very different than its predecessors. There is several pieces here. The way we have got the business units set up is I run applications, database, network, systems and what we call job management. And then the BSO organization they have asset management. There is an example of a Unicenter R11 component that is sitting in another business unit componentized. The agent architecture allows you to do that.

CRN: What is your goal in terms of making this product more attractive to solution providers that want to sell it and have experience with Unicenter?

Nugent: First of all I want to be able to take advantage of the way that the product was architected I may want to do some specific repackaging of the technology for certain elements of the channel. I am not saying I will do this or be able to do this. But an example might be something like Unicenter for small business. And it is very hard to do that if you don't have the product architected and componentized in the way that we do today. It is not a matter of building a whole new product. It is a matter of reconfiguring the components, maybe a smaller database technology, drive the price down, etc. and creating it in such a way that resellers can go off and add value to it.

CRN: Is Unicenter going to play in that small business segment?

Nugent: I can't announce anything, but I think that we will have the latitude to be able to do that given the architecture.

CRN: What is the message to solution providers who are interested in Unicenter and CA?

Nugent: The message about CA is we are back and I think in terms of the solution provider it is take a good look at what we are doing with r11. I think they will be very happy in terms of how they can work with us and we can work with them to address the needs of their marketplace.

CRN: Talk about how r11 will bring together security with network management?

Nugent: The eTrust business unit is a sister business unit. We have gone through great pains to work closely with them to make sure that those customers that want to incorporate all of the eTrust stuff, which includes some of the Netegrity stuff we acquired last year, are going to be able to do that. Before the integration was hard to do. We have actually done a lot of work already so that customers that want to do that, invest in R11 and the next generation of eTrust will find that there is a closer integration of those products.

CRN: What is that going to mean to solution providers that want see tighter integration?

Nugent: They are going to get what they want. We are at the beginning of this. One of the things I did at Novell was the Identity Computing Initiative. I want to do a similar thing here. I want to be able to use the eTrust infrastructure to build a composite digital ID that identifies the users of business application and all of that. And you can't do that without tight integration of the product. That is where we are going.