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At long last, Computer Associates has launched a piece of technology that looks sexy. Code-named 'Sonar', the new software probes electronic traffic as it spreads through corporate networks. That data is then used to map IT assets visually to business processes.

Not only does it intercept and understand network traffic in 1,500 protocols, it will also help technical teams root out problems, according to Yogesh Gupta, CTO, who demonstrated the software at the annual user conference CA World in Las Vegas.

At present human intervention is required to determine what business process a piece of equipment performs. In big enterprises this poses a problem; no human being can inventory that many processes. The Sonar technology, which will be used in CA's Unicenter systems management line, as well as in its storage management and eTrust network security products, could address IT's demand to cut down on the costs of idle hardware. CA will work with partners, including SAP, to develop a number of Sonar-based technologies.

Computer Associates this week introduces a fleet of new programs in the on-demand field. On demand software allows IT managers to draw upon and reroute computing resources to keep the servers from sitting idle.

CA released its first flight of on-demand products in April. It follows IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which both already sell hardware and other products on demand. Surprisingly, both companies agreed to join a debate on the subject at CA World, but Microsoft and Oracle are not invited, because they do not have products yet.

Sanjay Kumar, CEO, told attendees that Computer Associates will continue to focus on what it does best: Management software including infrastructure management, information management and knowledge management.

One area of interest is WiFi. Gupta demonstrated a wireless-based technology that dynamically switches a wireless connection across various networks (including Wifi and GPRS) without dropping the session. ®

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