Among the major technology vendors, there are actually very few companies that not only create technology but also want to manage it on behalf of the customer. They typically include IBM, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and, most recently, Dell. Now CA Technologies wants to join the ranks of those vendors.
At the CA World 2011 conference today, CA Technologies announced the Cloud Commons ecosystem anchored around a Cloud Commons Marketplace where customers can buy and sell cloud services and content. The environment also includes a new Cloud Commons Developer Studio development environment for planning, building and testing cloud-based applications and Cloud 360, a set of services that are designed to help IT organizations make the transition to cloud computing.
According Andi Mann, vice president of cloud strategy for CA Technologies, the Cloud Commons ecosystem unifies a number of existing cloud services, online communities and technologies from CA Technologies, including CA AppLogic grids, Microsoft-based appliances, cloud control panels, virtual desktop and mobile hosting, and other vertical industry applications. Customers can also purchase enterprise-class products such as CA ARCserve, CA Service Desk Manager and CA Oblicore Guarantee software, which have been configured as "cloud appliances" to run on CA AppLogic clouds. At the same time, CA Technologies also announced CA IdentityMinder-as-a-Service and CA FedMinder-as-a-Service, which are a pair of authentication services.
Mann says CA Technologies is responding to requests for customers who have asked the company to manage their transition to cloud computing. In effect, CA Technologies is now competing as a provider of cloud computing services alongside thousands of other providers. The difference is that it is using its own management tools to provide and manage services that are hosted in data centers managed by CA Technologies.
Conversations about cloud computing tend to shine a spotlight on many of the existing inefficient approaches to managing IT. As a result, more than a few companies are going to decide that as part of the transition to the cloud, the best thing they can do is have somebody else manage IT on their behalf. There are, of course, a lot of internal IT employees that naturally take umbrage when their company makes that kind of decision.
But like it or not, cloud computing represents a seminal shift in the way IT is managed. The simple fact of the matter is that one way or another your company is going to make that transition. The only real question is whether that transition is going to be managed by the existing internal IT staff or somebody else. If your existing IT house isn't in order, chances are you're not going to get the opportunity to manage the transition to new, more challenging models of managed computing. So if there was ever a more critical moment for internal IT teams to come together in a spirit of mutual self-interest, it's hard to remember when that might have been.
In the meantime, there's no doubt that the transition to the cloud is going to involve working more closely with cloud computing service providers. What's undetermined is on what terms those interactions are going to occur.