A new era for CA

In a much-anticipated keynote, Ken Cron, the interim CEO of Computer Associates International, did not shy away from recapping the company’s accounting scandals to the 10,000 or so attendees at this year’s CA World.

But what would you expect from the former journalist/publisher of Computer

Reseller News and Information Week?

That said, he announced that CA is undertaking a new commitment to have the highest standard of fiscal discipline and integrity.

Another somewhat surprising announcement from Cron was that CA’s No. 1 priority will be the channel. “”We are beefing up our channel operations to make it easier for customers to buy our products through partners, and for partners to collaborate with CA.

If Lewis Ranieri, CA’s new chairman and the man who hired Cron, chosen an executive from Dell instead of CMP Media, would CA’s new direction still be channel or totally direct? Having said that, I believe Cron’s new commitment is significant. CA was a company founded on a strategy of selling software direct and for big profits. It has built a successful business for 27

years largely without the help of resellers. This is a historic shift for this company, and basically introduces a new era for the infrastructure management software developer.

CA’s channel king George Kafkarkou, who last year introduced a partner program based on making resellers more profitable, was absolutely ecstatic at his press conference Sunday. He noted that Cron mentioned “”the channel”” twice in the first sentence of his keynote and later on said the word “”partners”” three times. Until recently, Kafkarkou had been championing the channel to a culture inside CA that really did not see the need for it.

Cron put CA’s history into perspective by saying, “”CA 10 years ago was a company built on profit. Now we’ve changed to become a company based on flexibility.

Now, Cron added, every employee at CA will become a partner advocate. This includes the direct sales organization.

Make no mistake: CA has a long way to go. It still does 83 per cent of its business direct. And, it will be very hard for them to grow that indirect business quickly because of its mainframe business. But the executive team is taking significant steps forward, such as releasing the company’s crown jewel Unicenter to the channel.

Of course, giving credit too much to Cron for the new channel commitment at CA would be wrong. Sanjay Kumar, who stepped down as CEO and chairman to take a lesser role as chief software architect, really got the channel ball rolling a few years ago with programs such as FlexSelect licensing and hiring people such as Kafkarkou.

In Canada, Kumar promoted Joanne Moretti to the GM position and in turn Moretti worked hard to get Chris Devlin back to Canada from CA Europe to run the channel in Canada and build a new field organization.

But still it was a bit melancholy to not see Kumar on stage, besides a brief video. This CA World will be the first time without a keynote from either Charles Wang, the former CEO, or Kumar.

But, like Cron said, 2004 is a new chapter for CA — one that will focus on the channel.

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