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CA's Unicenter omits long-promised features

Artificial intelligence and 3D interface sidelined

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Media interest on Computer Associates at its annual user conference focused to such an extent on its managements' attempts to fend off a hostile bid from Texan billionaire Sam Wyly, that little attention was paid to the dropping of long-promised features in an upgrade of its flagship product.

For the last two CA Worlds, the software giant's annual user conference, the firm marketed Unicenter TND (The Next Dimension), the successor to its Unicenter TNG (The Next Generation), largely using two key competitive differentiators, a 3D-management interface and predictive analysis.

However when CA launched Unicenter 3.0, the TND suffix was dropped and these key functions were quietly forgotten in favour of CA's new pitch about moving from a monolithic systems management suite to delivering a less unwieldy and more flexible modular approach.

The much-heralded neural network agents (neugents), a form of artificial intelligence technology, are now part of a broader product group looking at predictive analysis, and their role in Unicenter 3.0 has been downplayed. The same is true for the 3D "fly through" network view.

As long ago as 1998, when CA first introduced the first application of its neugents technology, as performance monitoring tool on Windows NT4.x systems, such as Exchange servers, it described them as "smarter than a million Albert Einsteins".

The idea always was that neugents would be incorporated as a core piece of Unicenter TND (The Next Dimension), which ironically, since the next dimension referred to here is time, was two years late in arriving.

CA said that delays in releasing Unicenter TND (as was) were needed to allow its underlying Jasmine ii (intelligent infrastructure) object-oriented database technology to mature and in order to incorporate the neugent technology with the systems management tool. So does it matter that CA has not lived up to its promises?

The answer to that question would seem to be "not a lot" as end-users are increasingly treating statements from IT vendors with as much trust as they'd apply to the promises of politicians, at the end of the day users care about the deliverables.

James Governor, an analyst at Illuminata, who has followed the systems management area closely for years, said: "Modularity and breaking up the Unicenter monolith were more important to customers. And CA, to its credit, responded.

"That to my mind, is far more effective than trying to push technology customers aren't ready for." ®

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