Systems management software giant Computer Associates has had its share of problems over the past few years. It has had to deal with a switch by customers away from its previous focus on all-encompassing software frameworks; it has tried to shoehorn its sprawling product portfolio into six ‘focus areas’; it has fought to overcome a reputation for weak customer service; and it has been
accused by shareholders and Wall Street analysts of financial mismanagement.
Within its product line, though, there have been a few bright spots. Having rebranded its mixed bag of data management and storage resource management products under the BrightStor family name, the company has managed to defend itself against fierce competition in key segments of the storage software market.
Most notably, sales of its Windows NT/2000 back-up tool ARCserve have continue to be strong, particularly among small and mid-sized businesses. The company says that it has been shipping around 60,000 copies of ARCserve a quarter in Europe alone. That suggests that on a global basis sales of the product now bring in around a half of CA’s total storage software revenues, which reached $478 million in the year to 31 March.
Two recent moves by the company have strengthened ARCserve’s position, says Tony Martin, CA’s UK managing director. First was the switch in April 2002 to selling all storage products (with the exception of mainframe software) through channel partners. The second has been the launch of the first upgrade to the product in two years, ARCserve 9.0.
But while CA has held onto its share of the Windows market, it is still only an ‘also-ran’ in the Unix world, where Veritas Software dominates. Having miscued an earlier competitive challenge, CA is now mounting a late attack following the release in early 2002 of BrightStor Enterprise Backup and an related multi-platform management console, BrightStor Portal.
However, as investment bank Baird suggests, “Computer Associates [has] a fair amount of work ahead to shore up [its] storage software technology and service reputation.”