New CA CEO looks to transform the company to SaaS provider

New CA CEO looks to transform the company to SaaS provider

Michael Gregoire was previously CEO at software-as-a-service giant Taleo

CA Technologies' recently appointed CEO, Michael Gregoire, has vowed to make the company an innovator in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market and has asked his customers to upgrade to the latest releases in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Speaking at CA's annual conference in Las Vegas this week, Gregoire, who had previously been CEO at SaaS giant Taleo, said that he would be offering all customers a free professional services audit over the next year to help identify where those operating on old software releases could be operating more efficiently.

Gregoire opened his keynote at the conference by saying that CA's SaaS platform will be available behind a company's firewall, on CA's private cloud, or in the true public cloud - but that the transition from a distributed environment wasn't going to be an easy one to make.

"When you take a look at the technology landscape we are at a pivot point. We saw the transition from mainframe to distributed, and now we are all experiencing this transition from distributed to the cloud," said Gregoire.

"The transition from mainframe to distributed was rather slow and we could see it, we could predict it. It was difficult but we understood it. I think we are going to see a different pivot point as we move from distributed to the cloud. It's not going to be a graceful transition. It's going to be hard, it's going to be violent. This is something CIOs are dealing with all day, every day."

Gregoire was keen to break away from CA's traditional pitch of selling mainframe and data centre software to legacy customers, and convince those at the conference that CA was able to transform into an agile and innovative company that could organically develop applications that are deliverable via the cloud.

He was keen to iterate that CA's cloud products could be deployed however the customer sees fit - private, public, hybrid - and that they could be easily integrated with other vendor's offerings to allow for easy data mining. However, Gregoire's main push during the keynote appeared to be getting customers off the company's old software releases.

"We need to have SaaS products in place and we need to get in a position where you can get these new products and you are not working on old releases. We are a making a very heavy investment in this. Over time you are going to see a migration of all of our products that we can put into this environment [SaaS] because it's just a better way to engineer," said Gregoire.

"One of the things I want to be crystal clear about is expectations. We are going to ramp up the organic engineering in our company. I think we have got some of the best engineers in the world, I want to get these products out quicker, I want to use the SaaS platform to do it."

Gregoire announced that CA would be offering all customers an audit by its professional services unit to establish how customers could get off the old releases of their software. He said: "At no cost to you we are going to get our professional services organisation contact you and do an inventory of the products you have - to understand if they are configured to drive the maximum amount of value."

"My number one pet peeve about the software industry - is old releases. If we are going to drive this organic engine, and innovate, and bring new products to market. We have to get you off of old releases. This is a big problem. You don't like old release, I don't like old releases. I want to tackle it."

He added: "I think the innovation curve is going to be so dramatic over the next few years that we are going to miss an opportunity to really be your partner and drive business value if we can't get you onto these new releases."

Computerworld UK spoke to Clive Longbottom, analyst for Quocirca, who said that although CA's new CEO has a challenge ahead in reforming the company, he stands a good chance.

"Gregoire talks a good story and seems enthusiastic enough. He's right that CA has a good arsenal. The trouble is the arsenal ranges from obsidian knives through to blunderbusses, to advanced lasers," said Longbottom.

"He has to rationalise the products, modernise the messages, cull or change the mindset of the channel. And most of all, he has to sort out the multiple power bases that exist within CA itself"

He added: "However, if anyone can do it, Gregoire looks and sounds as if he could be the one."

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