Sunday, June 6, 2010

One year later: a peek at what the Cassatt folks have been up to

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been a year since CA acquired people and assets of Cassatt Corp. A nice “congrats” anniversary e-mail I received from HR on the day of the event caused me to do a little reflecting. Read on for a few quick thoughts, plus something that came out of our CA World efforts: a peek into what’s been going on behind the curtain here at CA with the help of the Cassatt alums.

Experienced fish in a much bigger pond

For those of us who were working for Cassatt, the change to become a CA (now CA Technologies) employee has obviously been much more significant than just changing business cards and moving offices. We were 50 people; CA is over 13,000. That in and of itself can make my head spin. And often has.

But beyond the superficial numbers, the past year has been pretty significant for everyone involved.
It turned out that the Cassatt acquisition was the first in a flurry of cloud-related M&A activities at CA. The company wasted no time in applying new blood from our acquisition (and, frankly, from the ones that followed) to existing challenges – and big, new ones.

It’s those new ones that I’ve had my sights on. I personally think our Cassatt experiences have been able to make timely contributions to CA’s thinking -- and to help plan the company's moves in and around cloud computing.

Last summer at this time, CA was in the middle of developing the strategy to move from a value-based company to one focused on growth. The product and technology components of that effort are at the center of the acquisitions and announcements you’ve seen recently.

Optimization sounds important – and familiar – for IT and for cloud computing
An important piece of the CA strategy that Chris O’Malley (EVP of the CA Cloud Business Line) described at CA World had to do with looking at IT as a supply chain, and constantly evaluating the choices you are making in running your IT environment. The goal is to find the best fit of IT resources to meet business objectives, based on what’s available at any given time.

If you think some of that sounds a lot like what was in the Cassatt DNA, you’re right.

In fact, many of the people who came over from Cassatt were involved in one of the concept demos we showed at CA World. The guys were showing off a technology preview of our cloud optimization efforts using 3 brand new iPads and a cool 3D interface in the Cloud booth at the event. And, being the hams they are, they of course filmed one of the demo walk-throughs and posted it on YouTube.

About the sneak peek: so what is it?

In the clip, Craig Vosburgh (a sometime blogger, who has posted here at Data Center Dialog about what you need to know before moving to private clouds) shows software that makes smart, policy-based choices to support an example application. He (somewhat cruelly, if I do say so myself) creates “capacity shortages” on the application, causing the software to harvest new resources to help. Policy dictates whether that harvesting is done from an internal “spare” pool of physical or virtual servers, from servers currently handling internal low-priority applications, or from external cloud Microsoft Azure resources.

The whole video is only runs 6:29. Extra points if you at least make it through my cameo at 3:09.

Helping to move the needle

Of course, the YouTube demo is just a preview. But actually seeing these concepts in action gives you a feel for what kind of impact constant, automated optimization could make in a cloud computing environment – and for IT in general.

Keep an eye out for the Cassatt DNA as CA’s plans (and deliverables) progress. It should play an interesting role in what we’re working on. Something that was intriguing in the hands of a 50-person start-up is now part of something that could potentially have much more impact. 13,000 people is a lot.

One other interesting question: have we (the Cassatt folks, plus the other recent acquisitions, plus everyone in CA working on our cloud efforts) already made an impression?
Just last week Datamation posted a write-up about 10 cloud computing leaders. Forbes did something similar. CA Technologies was noted in both. “If I had written this lineup a few months ago before CA went on a cloud shopping binge,” said Jeff Vance of Datamation, “the company wouldn’t have even been considered for the top 10.”

Sounds to me like some good progress. But, hopefully, only the beginning. It will be interesting to see what another year will bring. I’ll keep you posted.

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