At the CA World user event in Las Vegas last month, vnunet.com sat down with CA president and chief operating officer Michael Christenson to discuss the software management vendor's current and future objectives.
vnunet.com: Prior to joining CA in 2005, you were retired from a 23-year career in investment banking. What was it about the role on offer at CA that drew you back to the business world?
Michael Christenson: I knew Lou Ranieri, who stepped in as chairman [at CA after the departure of ex-chief executive Sanjay Kumar], I knew Jeff Clarke who was chief operating officer, I knew Ken Cron who was interim chairman. I saw the CA role as a great opportunity to do something different. It's a big company, not a startup or venture capital company. It has a broad base of technology. It was a big opportunity; the firm just needed a little realignment. It was also great to be inside a technology company.
At previous CA Worlds, much of the focus has been on transformation and moving the company away from its past financial irregularities, and that has not been referenced this year. Does that mean the transformation process is complete?
MC: I've banned transformation from people's vocabulary. But you can always do better, and we're not letting up in the drive to be more efficient. We've got good business processes, now they just have to be executed.
Another change has been the shift away from merger and acquisition activity. Previous shows have been a chance to round up all the latest purchases and detail how they fit into the CA portfolio - again, CA was very quiet on that front this year.
MC: There were some clear deficiencies in the product portfolio when I joined the company, particularly around identity and access management, network management capabilities, and application management capabilities. We had an offering but it wasn't market leading and the company hadn't acquired great technology. We spent $18bn for 15 companies, but there were three things that caused us to pause.
Firstly we needed to integrate what we'd acquired; we were also in the middle of an SAP implementation and didn't want to overlap that with integrating acquired firms; finally luck - there was nothing out there we needed.
But we haven't stopped acquiring; we're still very active in the market. We recently have begun to see some interesting work out of the VC world, and this is a good market to be a buyer. If it's a $50m to $100m revenue company it can work well for CA, you can bet that technology works. We just don't see that today though - firms are stalling in the $10m to $30m range, so we have to be much more careful in this market.
We have recently made two acquisitions, both in the security space: Eurekify and ID Focus. There are three or four others with active conversations, but we can't say who they are.
Another sign of CA's shift in focus has been promoting internal development and innovation at the firm, rather than always buying it in, for example Data Center Automation Manager, launched in October from an in-house project; and the details that were shared at CA World from the Emerging Tech division around connected health and using technology to manage the health of non-hospitalised sick people.
MC: We spend $0.5bn a year on innovation. With our emerging technology team, there is new market development going on but we are mostly focused on opportunities in our existing portfolio to solve problems. CA is most interested in what we have today that can be applied for healthcare.
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