Computer Associates (CA) has unveiled its corporate agenda in an attempt to reinvent itself as a multi-market, channel-orientated software vendor.
In a series of high-profile announcements at its 1998 user conference, CA World, the company expressed a hitherto unprecedented commitment to the channel and to providing systems management software - based on its flagship Unicenter TNG framework - to businesses of all sizes.
These measures, which mark a dramatic break with the CA of old, include: the establishment of a global channel organisation called the VARsity programme, consolidating CA and Cheyenne partner operations (the Cheyenne name will be swiftly phased out); the launch of a workgroup edition product line aimed at the SME market - to be sold exclusively through third parties; and a string of support initiatives and training programmes for new and existing partners with a commitment to push at least 50 per cent of its business through resellers by the year 2000.
A product line aimed at the lower end of the enterprise market was also unveiled. It will be sold directly and indirectly. CA presently does about 80 per cent of its business direct and traditionally has only dealt with enterprise-level customers.
An open licence scheme offering significant discounts on volume purchases of workgroup products was also launched. This is further evidence of CA's efforts to position the Unicenter TNG framework - upon which all its applications are based - as an industry standard.
The move has been bolstered by alliances with Microsoft and Compaq which will see CA's 3D interface integrated with NT 5 and will allow resellers to bundle the Unicenter framework with the industry-leading hardware.
CA chairman and CEO Charles Wang said: 'This company has reached a milestone in its development. All our products are now channel ready.'
According to Claus Egge, industry analyst at IDC, following the failure of the CSC deal, the emphasis on channel partnerships was crucial to CA's continued growth.
'Even taking into account the promised investment in services, CA badly needs partners to install and support these products as well as sell them,' Egge told PC Dealer. 'But while Cheyenne personnel will provide some indirect expertise, it remains to be seen whether CA will be able to master the channel and recruit partners with the necessary skills as rapidly as it plans.'
Mark Marron, who heads up CA's European channel development team, was more positive: 'In the past year, we have tripled the size of our training and certification groups across Europe. We have an entire group being put together dedicated to lead generation and are offering free sales training to our channel partners.
'We have replaced the multiple agreements and multiple resource outlets across Europe with a consistent homogeneous programme which mirrors the programme I set up in the US. This was a necessary step from both a practical and legal standpoint.'
But Marron declined to say which European distributors would be authorised to stock the channel-exclusive product line. 'We have a distributor's council coming up at the end of May, where we will discuss how these new products will be positioned and how they can benefit both customers and the channel.'
He added: 'The key thing is that we now have channel-only products. This makes it easy for me to say where CA's commitment lies.'
CA PRODUCTS FOR SME MARKET
CA's products to be sold exclusively by the channel for the SME market
- AimIT (asset and inventory management) ARCserve (storage management) CryptIT (secure data communications) DoubleIT (network data compression) FAXserve (fax management) Ingres II (relational database) Inoculan (antivirus) Jasmine (object-oriented database)
- Paradigm (helpdesk) ProtectIT (network security) Remotely Possible (remote control) ShipIT (automated software distribution).
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