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Integration key in CA’s approach to change management

When CA purchased Niku in January 2005, it announced plans to weave Niku’s Clarity IT-MG software into its existing help desk (CA Unicenter Service Desk) and change management (CA Harvest Change Manager) apps.

CA closed its Niku acquisition in August. This week, CA officials are touting what they describe as the first fruits of the Niku acquisition—in this case, the integration of Niku’s Clarity portfolio and project management assets with its existing service desk and software lifecycle management solution stack.

The result claims Jose Mora, director of Clarity marketing for CA, is gestalt: a change management product family the integrated whole of which is greater than the sum of its parts. “All of these solutions exist today. They’re individual solutions. But IT continues to work in these silos. The applications are ‘siloed.’ The individuals are ‘siloed.’ The groups are ‘siloed.’ The asset manager doesn’t know what the groups are working on, for example,” he argues. “Part of what we’re hearing from the market place is that we need better integration between these silos.”

CA’s competitors in the change management market—BMC Software, IBM, and Mercury Technology Optimization, among others—will undoubtedly take issue with CA’s claim of unprecedented integration in its portfolio. There’s a sense, however, in which CA’s strategy—punctuated by the $350 million in cash it plunked down early last year for Niku—helps underscore the central importance of the unified change management stack. These technology areas have traditionally been silo-ed, and it wasn’t until relatively recently that CA and other companies started thinking seriously about integrating and extending them.

It isn’t that the service desk, project and portfolio management, and software lifecycle management disciplines need to be integrated with one another, it’s rather a question of why shouldn’t they be—especially if (as seems likely) obvious benefits will accrue from doing so.

What’s more, CA and other vendors have a blueprint for integration and interoperability: the hyper-connected service-oriented architecture. “Most of the systems [customers] have today are disconnected. So the overall cost of change is unknown, and it’s critical that they get that under control,” Mora argues.

In the integrated model, says Mora, compliant apps automatically generate error reports with Unicenter Service Desk (via CA’s embedded Service Aware control). Back at Service Desk, a support analyst reviews the incidents that have been reported against an app or apps. If need be, Service Desk can combine multiple instances into a single problem. Problems are in turn resolved through Requests for Change. At this point, the Change Request creates a Project or Task in the Clarity environment. Meanwhile, in the Harvest environment, a package is created to manage the RFC request. From that point, the dev lifecycle is controlled by workflow, says Mora. As code moves from dev to test to production, Clarity and Service Desk are automatically updated. “You’ve got this entirely seamless process that’s taking place, with information that’s very complex, but because it’s integrated, the information doesn’t have to be manually changed,” he concludes.

CA’s change management suite became generally available earlier this month. The Virginia Farm Bureau has already replaced Microsoft’s Project, Systems Management Server (SMS) and Visual Source Safe with CA’s trifecta, according to Mora. Ditto for an unnamed company that CA describes as a retail grocer and the eighth-largest privately-held company in the nation. In both cases, Mora claims, customers expect to realize additional value by virtue of the linkages and automation CA has built into its Clarity, Service Desk, and Harvest products.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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