By Joe and Jane Clabby, Clabby Analytics
There are two important phrases that characterize this year’s CA World: 1) business rewritten by software; and, 2) the “application economy.”
The “business rewritten by software” message refers to the way that applications are now being developed and deployed. Enterprises are moving from traditional packaged application deployment to more flexible, agile, Web-based application designs that feature rapid deployment and constant updates (also known as development/operations or “DevOps” designs). CA Technologies believes that its software can help transform businesses by providing a means to deploy, monitor and secure this new generation of Internet-based applications. As CA Technologies puts it: “we now live in a world where customers are no longer just loyal to the brand or product or service. Instead, they are loyal to the complete experience a brand delivers. And that experience is delivered by software. Software is the business.” Business is thus being rewritten by software.
The application economy is CA Technologies’ vision statement. The way that CA Technologies positions its application economy message is this: the “Application Economy is tearing down old notions; breaking apart yesterday’s models; reshaping the landscape. In every market and in every industry, customers are looking at their business in new ways: leveraging the power of software to reinvent, create advantage, and drive growth. We are on the verge of a shift. Not a gentle evolution but a fundamental transformation of business, of society and life.” The new application economy is driving this shift.
We, on the other hand, see CA Technologies’ application economy message a little bit differently. To us, this application economy message serves as the “glue” that integrates CA Technologies’ various products and services around a common vision. It unites the company’s DevOps messaging with its cloud messaging, its infrastructure messaging with its security messaging, its infrastructure management with its operations management – and so on. It is the vision that shows customers how all of CA Technologies’ products and services can be integrated in order to help CA Technology customers to build and deploy new, high-quality Web-based applications more quickly than ever before.
In short, with its “business rewritten by software” and its “application economy” messaging, CA Technologies now has now articulated a solid strategic vision that defines its role (as a provider of DevOps, infrastructure and management, and related products) – and that unites its various product offerings to service a common cause (DevOps application design, development, deployment and management). Last year CA Technologies’ had a bunch of interesting product initiatives – this year CA Technologies has a solid, common vision of its role in the enterprise.
The key conference messages
In a nutshell, the problem that CA Technologies is trying to tackle is related to expedient, efficient application development. CA Technologies believes that the days of packaged application solutions are numbered – the development and QA cycles take too long, and then there is a reticence by customers to deploy new revisions of packaged software until that software has been fully vetted (preferably by others). Instead, CA Technologies contends that application development environments need to change. Agile development needs to become the norm; continuous delivery needs to replace today’s big revision cycles; and applications need to be deployed and managed differently (agile operations).
At CA World 2014, the company clearly articulated its vision and purpose. The way CA Technologies sees the market is this:
- Thanks to the invention of the Internet, the nature of business has changed. Enterprises are essentially open 24X7; physical storefronts have gone virtual; customers interact with business systems using mobile devices – and all of these changes are being supported by software.
- CA Technologies believes that applications are at the root of business change, and calls this new software-driven change engine “the application economy.” A more in-depth description of the application economy can be found here;
- CA Technologies sees its role in the new application economy as that of a:
- Software provider that can accelerate high quality innovation across the enterprise;
- Software tool maker that enables business to interact with its customers using identity-based solutions that create a frictionless user-experience;
- Maker of manageability software that enables enterprises to manage their rapidly expanding information technology (IT) portfolios.
To implement new application economy solutions, CA’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Gregoire described three imperatives: (1) the need to address high-quality innovation across the enterprise; (2) ensuring enterprise application/data security; and, (3) the need to better manage rapidly expanding IT portfolios – and then described how CA Technologies can help customers address each imperative.
To address the need to innovate, Gregoire pointed out that in today’s IT environments, customers need to innovate fast – delivering new applications “rapidly, seamlessly and predictably.” These new applications can’t take months or years to come to fruition – they need to be available in days (or even hours). According to Gregoire, with CA’s complete DevOps portfolio, customers can innovate more quickly than ever before. As Gregoire put it, CA’s DevOps portfolio “helps balance two competing forces, innovation and execution. Without the need to sacrifice quality or efficiency.”
To address enterprise security, Gregoire pointed out that CA Technologies excels at identity-based solutions that create a frictionless user-experience. According to Gregoire: “Security is at the heart of your business… this isn’t about keeping people out. It’s about providing the right access to the right users, at the right time, with the least amount of friction.” CA Technologies security solutions deliver this kind of frictionless experience.
As for managing rapidly expanding IT portfolios, several CA Technologies products can be used to simplify the management of IT infrastructure, databases and management environments. CA offers a management cloud environment, for instance, that is a “broad portfolio of solutions, built for speed, to manage growing IT portfolio complexity, with rapid time-to-value and a modern, mobile user experience.”
A closer look: The mainframe strategy
Each product organization at CA Technologies has developed strategies that support the company’s application economy vision. In the mainframe world, the management and analytics messages in the mainframe world have shifted since last year. Last year, the mainframe organization primarily focused on infrastructure management. But with the new focus on the application economy, the emphasis has shifted to include management across mainframe/distributed environment (described above), applications management, and analytics management (more specifically, the use of predictive analytics to read through logs and other sources of information to help troubleshoot problems or to take proactive steps to prevent future problems). As Mike Madden, CA Technologies mainframe general manager told us: “It’s now about knowing what’s going on beyond your silo – we want to be able to understand the entire IT environment as a whole.”
A closer look: the application management strategy
There are two key areas that caught our attention with respect to CA’s application management strategy. The first is Application Performance Management (APM) which has been around for quite some time and “API-assembled applications,” where API’s will be the unifying platform for a wide range of data sources ( social networks, search engines, databases etc.) and will enable applications to be spun up quickly and easily.
In a break-out session, Matthew LeRay, Business Unit Executive for APM, described the “rebirth of CA APM.” A year ago, a new leadership team was assembled with a mission to make CA APM easy-to-use, market-leading, with a quick time-to-value and an ability to drive proactive behavior. After extensive customer research, the entire solution has been reinvented around a newly-coined “EPIC” theme – Easy, Proactive, Instructive and Collaborative. CA 9.7, due out in December, is the first step in the new CA APM’s evolution and is designed to serve a wider range of organizational roles in existing customers, as well as attract new customers. Future releases will continue to build on the EPIC theme. By combining this new approach with CA’s rich history in APM and comprehensive APM services, including “deep-dive” application diagnostics, end-user experience monitoring, synthetic monitoring, and analytics, CA APM will differentiate from competitors that offer fewer features and services.
Amit Chatterjee, EVP of Enterprise Solutions and Technology, spoke about API-assembled applications and CA Technologies’ leadership in API management. By connecting CA Service Virtualization to API management and the API security and management capabilities from the Layer 7 acquisition, CA Technologies provides a platform for agile parallel development, continuous delivery and agile operations. In the application economy, API management will drive revenue growth. In fact, according to Chatterjee, Salesforce.com is a good example of this trend, with 50% of revenues being generated by APIs.
Customer panel discussions
We really like this application economy message because we constantly see applications changing the way that businesses interact with their customers – and the way that businesses seek competitive advantage over their competitors. Probably one of the best examples of how applications are changing the way that customers and businesses interact was provided at this conference by Rent the Runway – a high fashion clothing rental organization that described itself as a “software” (applications-driven) company. According to Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway’s Co-founder and CEO, the company is, at its heart, a software company that provides various services for its customers including rental, collaboration and design services. Software is the company’s core competence – its means to service its customers’ needs and requirements most effectively.
Another panel discussion included Chris Satchell, Consumer Technology Officer, at Nike. Nike’s underlying philosophy is that “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” Nike has been successful by expanding this notion of an athlete to include all of us and by, according to Satchell, “meeting people where they are,” which means meeting them digitally. Today, Nike has 275 consumer-facing software products with thousands of integration points. Software is an extension of the brand, and through software, Nike can deliver services by knowing the customer better and reaching them through new applications- using a “serve before you sell” approach.
At last year’s CA World (CA World 2013), CA Technologies told us of its commitment to development/-operations (DevOps) development environments, to cloud computing, to Big Data, to mobile computing, and to operations and infrastructure management. But something was missing: a corporate vision. What business/industry problem was CA Technologies trying to tackle? Without such a vision, it looked like CA Technologies was trying to tackle a bunch of infrastructure and management issues, a bunch of mobile issues, a bunch of software development/program/project management issues – and so on. In other words, CA felt like a point product solutions provider.
At this year’s CA World (CA World 2014), CA Technologies corrected its “vision” challenge by providing a unifying corporate strategy it calls the “application economy.” A closer look at the application economy shows how DevOps products simplify application development – enabling enterprises to deliver application solutions to market more quickly. The purpose of security is to ensure that applications are protected. The purpose of the company’s management cloud is to ensure that applications run smoothly; the purpose of the company’s mobile computing products is to provide unwired access to applications and data services; and so on. Each CA Technologies product offering supports some aspect of application design, deployment or management.
There is much more going on at CA Technologies than simply articulating its strategy and vision. Behind the scenes, Gregoire has made solid progress in rationalizing the company’s product portfolio; realigned sales and marketing organizations; restructured internal business processes and was experimenting with new business models. We described his plans in greater detail in this report – and now, with a clear strategic vision and realigned resources, we see solid evidence that Gregoire’s plan to revitalize CA Technologies is working.