Aggressive takeover attempts, several name changes, former chief executives doing porridge and a turbulent channel strategy.
We can only be talking about one company - CA Technologies.
As the vendor gears up to launch its CA World event in Las Vegas again next week, it is also celebrating its 35th birthday in 2011.
In technology terms - particularly with the testing economic conditions we have seen over the past decade - reaching any such milestone is no mean feat, but with revenue of $4.4bn (£2.8bn) in fiscal 2011, $500m a year investment in designing and supporting software, and customers in every country, the company appears confident that it will be going strong for the next 35 years.
CA has had what can be best described as an up-and-down history - both internally and with its channel partners - but it certainly seemed to have its collective head screwed on at its last CA World event in May 2010, where new chief executive Bill McCracken outlined the vendor’s commitment to its cloud strategy and its partners.
What its message at CA World 2011 will be remains to be seen, but the vendor’s own research revealed the management software market will be worth an estimated $42.8bn by 2015, and it appears that CA intends to chase more than a small slice of that pie.
Innovate to accumulate
It was in 2007 that the vendor finally appeared to embrace the channel, announcing plans to reward its direct sales teams in the UK and Ireland for pushing sales through the channel (as revealed on ChannelWeb, 7 May 2007).
Since then, the vendor has launched a number of channel strategies, and its acquisition of Nimsoft in 2010 created a number of channel opportunities, Russ Artzt, vice chairman and co-founder of the software giant told CRN last year (ChannelWeb, 19 May 2010).
“[The acquisition of Nimsoft] will give us new customers and partners that we have never had as the technology is geared around MSPs and enables us to add new customers,” he said at the time.
The company was keen to put all its woes behind it and focus on innovation once more, he claimed.
“CA as a company is innovating again. CA is both a technology leader and a thought leader,” Artzt added at the time.
Now, in a year when most 35-year olds contemplate a mid-life crisis, CA is looking to the next phase of its development and by all accounts it is bringing the channel along for the ride.
Speaking to CRN, Colin Bannister, chief technology officer UK and Ireland at CA, said the firm has been through its fair share of changes over the years.
“I have been at CA for 15 years,” he said. “If you look at where CA started in its IBM mainframe days, it developed software for the mainframe better than IBM could do it. The proposition has not changed that much, given that IT over the past 25 years has been increasingly critical to business - particularly management software and the way we secure it.
“As we have gone through various cycles, layers of complexity have been added into IT that have not actually changed it that much.”
This certainly ties in with one of the themes from last year’s CA World, where chief executive Bill McCracken talked about removing layers of complexity from IT.
After the furore surrounding the accounting scandal and the ensuing SEC investigation which resulted in the then chief executive Sanjay Kumar stepping down and eventually receiving a 12-year prison sentence, the company was given some much-needed focus in the form of replacement chief John Swainson.
“John brought a degree of focus and also some financial governance to the organisation that was most welcome, particularly as our portfolio had started growing into areas beyond management and security,” Bannister said.
He added that the channel remains an important part of CA’s focus in the future, particularly as the industry enters a new hype cycle.
“It is clear that we go through cycles and there have been some very disruptive changes in IT and the client server world. The internet and technology was overhyped in its early days, virtualisation is another area that became a hot trend, and cloud is the next cycle. The question is, is it overhyped?” he said.
“When we meet CIOs, they have cloud structures on their whiteboards and are saying ‘we are going to interact with the cloud’. And we intend to help them to do that.
“We see the channel as a route to an expanded customer base. It is important that we help our partners take advantage of the market opportunity. We have been through difficult times with our partners, but today with our clear leadership around management, governance and cloud security, the channel becomes even more important,” he said.
And one area CA will be focusing on in the future is avoiding channel conflict.
“There is a need for some kind of product segmentation and some of our acquisitions are more appropriate for channel partners such as Nimsoft. Segmenting products helps us to be clearer with our partners and opens up areas of the market where we may traditionally compete. Our drive into the cloud makes us even more relevant to the MSP marketplace, so there is a strong future with our partners,” he said.
One partner, Simon Carter, founder and chief executive of VAR Sandhill, echoed this statement.
“Sandhill has been a CA Technologies partner since 1999 when it added the Erwin software to its portfolio. The partnership has provided access to large companies and their decision makers, enabling Sandhill to grow into a global partner serving markets in the UK, Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and South America,” he said.
“The strength of our relationship has ensured that the partnership has withstood all the challenges that have been thrown at it over the past 12 years by the winds of economic change. I look forward to ensuring that we continue this tried and tested partnership for many years to come.”
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