Do it fast and do it right was Computer Associates (CA) chairman Charles Wang's mantra at the software vendor's annual conference and exhibition in New Orleans last week.
It may seem blindingly obvious when referring to the need for businesses to metamorphose into effective clicks and bricks organisations, but Wang claimed that far too many companies approach ebusiness believing that doing it fast means not doing it right.
Indeed, CA itself spent much of the week pushing the message that 'ebusiness is our business', which might have left observers wondering exactly who CA was trying to convince.
Clive Longbottom, analyst at Strategy Partners, said: "CA has finally woken up to ebusiness, it's just a case of whether it has left it too late at a time when the e-bubble is bursting and dotcoms are falling flat on their faces. But [Wang's] words show that CA is taking an inclusive view that it's not just about dotcom, but about clicks and bricks."
And if CA's business is really about ebusiness, then the company also made efforts to position its core products as the infrastructure of ebusiness.
The scent of Jasmine
The general availability of Jasmine intelligent infrastructure (ii), announced last week, embodied the essence of CA's message. Dubbed 'the ebusiness platform', Wang said Jasmine ii is the only product that lets users build ebusiness internet exchanges and portals that can be personalised dynamically.
It's the first solution that meets the challenge of doing it fast and right, said Wang.
It is a claim that Oracle and Sun Microsystems might contest, but the technology incorporated into Jasmine ii, especially its predictive Neugent (neural agent) software, is undeniably on the cutting edge.
Based on CA's existing object-oriented database, Jasmine ii also includes an application server, a publish/subscribe engine and an object request broker. It supports a range of application services including distributed transaction management, messaging, naming, events, encryption and cache management. CA said Jasmine ii provides users with a single platform that natively supports the eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Enterprise Java Beans and Java.
CA also launched a suite of optional ecommerce applications based on Jasmine ii, including catalogue merchandising, purchasing and shipping. The Jasmine iApplication Suite enables trading partners to electronically receive and transmit XML/electronic data interchange and other document types, while mapping and translation tools are aimed at helping users integrate their back-office packages with their trading partners' supply chain applications.
Where do resellers fit in?
The availability of this technology may be well and good for CA's consultancy arm, but resellers may claim that such developments have little relevance for them, as they are, with a few exceptions, reduced to selling the less sexy line of Advanced and Workgroup edition products. There are only a handful of UK resellers qualified to sell highly complex products, such as CA's Unicenter TNG, and Jasmine ii also fits into this infrastructure sale category.
David Ball, European channel marketing director at CA, said Jasmine ii will be sold by some resellers, but denied that the technology was irrelevant to many VARs.
"This technology is very relevant to resellers because at the high-end it filters down into the lower-end products, and the technology is definitely there at the lower end. Some of our channel products now have Neugent incorporated into them," he said.
Reinforcing the sales force
And it wasn't just its product set that CA has spruced up for ebusiness. The company has just undergone its largest internal sales force reorganisation, merging its product sales group with its services sales arm to create a single solutions division. The new division will shortly include the sales staff from Sterling Software, which CA bought last month.
The reorganisation was welcomed by Longbottom. He said CA's problem has always been to manage its diverse product portfolio in a cohesive manner, suggesting that the way around this is to break the company's products into the vertical roles they play. This is exactly what CA has done. The manifestation of the reorganisation of the company's sales force in the channel is the creation of distinct areas of focus.
CA resellers will be placed into one of four product categories according to their specialisation: storage, security, network management and desktop. Each category will be managed by a CA representative, and resellers that sell products in more than one category will be managed by a sales lead account manager.
Ball said that the net result of the reorganisation will be to bring resellers into closer contact with CA. "We've found that the more resellers engage with CA, the more opportunities they create and the more components they sell. Also, if a reseller is only interested in selling network management software, then we will know that and can leave him to it," he added.
Certified resellers are already separated into specific product categories under its VIP programme, said Ball, which means there will be no need for modification.
CA resellers will also be pleased to hear that the company intends to open up a number of products from Sterling Software to the channel. Sanjay Kumar, chief operating officer at CA, said that this will be done as soon as is practically possible, but was unable to elaborate any further.
- CA UNVEILS MASTER LICENSING
Computer Associates has unveiled an additional tier to its volume licensing programme, which it says will give greater discounts to enterprise users and boost margins for resellers.
The Master License Programme (MLP) covers the vendor's Workgroup and Advanced Edition products. Set to be launched on 1 May, the scheme sets a reseller's rate of discount based on a projected sales forecast over a two-year period.
CA said MLP was being introduced following the success of the Open Licensing Programme (OLP), which was unveiled last year. Under OLP reseller discounts are based upon a VAR's initial order from a CA distributor. That margin is then fixed for the next two years.
David Ball, European channel marketing director at CA, said resellers that start selling under MLP and fail to hit the sales volume targets, will be relegated back to OLP.
Christopher Hickey, vice-president of channel sales at CA, said MLP will also reduce implementation times for enterprise users because customers will receive the software and the licence agreement on a CD, reducing the need for box products. In many cases CA will ship the product direct to the end-user.
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