CA tests Unicenter release

Computer Associates International Inc. last week began full field testing of CA-Unicenter The Next Generation (TNG), a much-anticipated release of its systems management platform that is expected to be widely adopted by the Defense Department and other agencies.

Although CA has not yet announced pricing for Unicenter TNG, the product has drawn a lot of interest from federal and commercial customers because of the potential uses of its 3-D graphical user interface (GUI) and object-oriented underpinnings.

Arriving This Fall

Unicenter TNG will be generally available this fall, but CA already is providing software developer toolkits so beta customers can begin building management applications that take advantage of the new capabilities.

"We have seen a tremendous amount of interest, especially in the DOD community," said Joe Quigg, divisional vice president of the enterprise management group for CA's federal operations in Reston, Va. "They can use [an individual with less expertise] to manage their systems either from a central or distributed point," Quigg said.

CA touts Unicenter TNG as the only management platform capable of giving users an end-to-end view of their operations. That includes every possible platform from the Internet to the mainframe, with multiple contexts, including network, systems, database and application management.

"Nobody has been able to understand the interactions between the network and systems and the application software," said Paul Mason, director of the enterprise systems management program at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass. "Without that, you don't have anything but little bits and pieces," Mason said.

However, such capabilities probably would be difficult to leverage without the 3-D Real World Interface, which allows users to navigate through a visual representation of their resources with a mouse or joystick. Third-party applications also can be represented using the developers toolkit, CA said.

The Real World view may not appeal so much to systems management veterans, much like Microsoft Corp.'s Windows GUI did not initially appeal to longtime DOS users, analysts said. However, the new intuitive approach—which allows users to build whatever views are applicable to their particular environment—makes it possible for less sophisticated users to carry out the job.

This potential has a real appeal to DOD agencies that are distributing more functions outside the data center, Quigg said.

The flexibility of the Unicenter TNG GUI means the product can be tailored for very specific "business" environments, Quigg said. "You can actually bring in images of ships, have command and control systems that are all over the world, and the view can be down to the specific location to someone who is out in the field in Bosnia," he said.

Both systems integrators and value-added resellers in the DOD community are looking at potential applications of Unicenter TNG, Quigg said.

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