New Day At CA

Wrapped in admissions that it has let down partners in the past, CA executives used the vendor&'s annual partner conference, CA World 2005, as a backdrop to introduce a sweeping new product strategy and as the starting point for dramatic changes in the way it pays its channel partners, involves them in sales, and trains and communicates with them. If that wasn&'t enough to invoke a sense of change, the Islandia, N.Y., company even officially shortened its name from Computer Associates International to just “CA.”

>> ‘What we are really doing is asking you to believe again.&'
—DONALD FRIEDMAN, CA executive vice president and chief marketing officer, on partner/vendor ‘trust issues.&'

“We are taking ourselves to the next level, and now we&'re going to earn the right to be your IT management partner,” said John Swainson, president and CEO.

Swainson said the name change illustrates the unification of the company&'s technology vision of Enterprise IT Management (EITM), and its new product platform, the Service Availability solution, which was launched last week along with four new flavors of Unicenter r11 (see related story).

To boost channel sales and grow its midmarket and enterprise product business, CA will begin to deliver rebates and MDFs to partners with qualified leads before the sales close, enriching partners sooner and empowering them to close deals faster, said James Hanley, senior vice president of worldwide partner sales. CA will also work to shorten sales cycles for partners and make sales opportunities more inclusive for smaller partners by reducing layers of bureaucracy and paperwork.

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CA will increase its field engagement with partners not just at the top-tier Alliance Partner level—those elite solution providers that assist CA&'s direct sales team in catering to the vendor&'s named accounts—but at the midtier Enterprise and Premier Partner levels as well, said Hanley. Incentives that include commission bonuses as high as 130 percent will be given to direct sales people who bring a partner in on a deal, he said. Refreshed training programs that educate partners about CA&'s new Service Availability solution product strategy will appear, as will an around-the-clock telephone support line partners can use to clarify sales, marketing and technical issues, said Hanley.

Solution providers attending the conference were thrilled, and a bit shocked, by CA&'s commitment.

Jose Albino, principal at Attain Technologies, an $8-million-a-year solution provider and CA partner in Englewood, Calif., said CA&'s pledges to shorten sales cycles are long overdue.

Albino, who said the changes in CA&'s product line could drive his revenue to $20 million a year, has been waiting for CA to get the lead out of closing deals with partners. He almost lost a large deal that included CA&'s eTrust security product because confusion from CA about negotiating the partner side of the contract dragged the deal out for more than three months.

“The deal went back and forth forever, mostly about how to create the contract and how the reps on both sides [the channel and the vendor] were being compensated,” recalled Albino.

Hanley said this type of behavior from CA would be curtailed. “We&'re going to speed up sales cycles,” he said. “We have been going through lengthy exception processes, what we call ‘BARFs,&' or business analysis review forms. They take time, and we need to learn to limit this.”

The Service Availability solution makes for a fine MSP platform, but CA has pledged not to compete against its partners, many of which are adding managed services, by becoming an MSP itself, said Hanley.

Steve Moisoff, vice president of sales at Computer Network Solutions, a CA partner who expects to make nearly $100 million in revenue next year driven primarily from its MSP business, said he&'s seen a “huge turnaround” in the way CA treats its partners. CA has been flexible in how it does business with Computer Network Solutions, and “has even worked with us on a cost model that takes into account the long-term billing of our MSP model,” he said.

“What we are really doing is asking you to believe again,” said Donald Friedman, CA&'s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. The “trust issues” between CA and solution providers are going to be resolved, Friedman said.