CA emphasizes integration

By Heidi Biggar

In what the company billed as its most significant product introduction since the launch of its BrightStor platform in 2001, Computer Associates this week introduced 13 product updates and a new automation platform--BrightStor Process Automation Manager.

All products fall under the CA BrightStor r11.1 umbrella and are designed to provide users with storage management applications that are more intelligent, integrated, and automated, according to company officials.

With data growth rates of 30% or more per year, users need management tools to help them rein in storage costs, better manage data their data with existing, or fewer, staff and, perhaps most importantly, extract business value (e.g., new revenue streams) from their data on an ongoing basis.

The problem, however, is that many organizations are tackling their storage management issues on a case-by-case basis, which typically means they are implementing multiple tools from multiple vendors, according to Anders Lofgren, vice president of product development for CA BrightStor.

While this type of strategy works for the short term, Lofgren contends that it can lead to significant problems over the long haul. "Users will get to some threshold where things go from easy to complex. In the long term, this type of situation [e.g., multiple, stand-alone products] can't exist," says Lofgren.

What users need are products that work together, have a common user interface, and allow them to leverage their experiences with existing software applications, says Lofgren. To that end, CA, as well as other leading storage software vendors, is working to integrate its product lines.

BrightStor r11.1 provides users with several new points of integration (in both open systems and mainframe environments from a single interface), notably between BrightStor Storage Resource Manager (BrightStor SRM) and SAN Manager; BrightStor SRM and ARCserve Backup; and BrightStor SAN Manager and Process Automation Manager.

The integration of BrightStor SRM and SAN Manager gives users a more complete view of their storage networks (from applications down to disks) from a single interface, which allows them to more easily gather information about their entire storage infrastructure. The integration of BrightStor SRM and ARCserve Backup, in turn, feeds critical information from the backup environment to SRM software.

Customers will be able to use these "tools in combination, not in isolation," says Lofgren. Previously, customers used BrightStor SRM to gather information about disk utilization and BrightStor SAN Manager to see what was going on in the SAN. A common interface ties the two products together.

As for plans to integrate some of these products (e.g., SAN Manager and SRM) into single products down the road, Lofgren says that possibility exists but for now CA will continue to offer them separately or as part of suites.

CA is also heeding customer input on the automation front. Though its new Process Automation Manager software is designed to automate a variety of key processes within the storage network, CA says it is first tackling provisioning. The company will introduce other templates over time, although no details were provided.

In addition to the new products/updates, CA also introduced a simplified capacity-based licensing model, three new managed capacity suites or bundles, and a single backup family under the ARCserve name.

Pricing for the new managed capacity suites is on a per-terabyte, rather than per-server, basis. CA believes the managed capacity pricing option will be particularly attractive to larger organizations, which will no longer have to track individual server licenses that can number in the hundreds or thousands.

Explains Lofgren: "Because pricing is based on capacity, users will be able to more easily add servers to their networked environment. They won't have to worry about getting agents for each server."

The new managed capacity option is priced at $3,500 per TB and has a 15TB minimum.

This article was originally published on September 14, 2004