Since joining CA Technologies as president of Asia Pacific (AP) in August 2010, Lionel Lim (formerly president of Sun’s AP business) has consistently stressed the need to re-establish CA as a leading enterprise IT provider across the region. Along with a mix of regional and global executives, Lim used the recent CA Expo 2013 in Melbourne as an opportunity to update analysts on the company’s progress.

Key messages at the event all centered on CA’s value in helping CIOs drive, manage, and optimize IT/business transformation. The company plans to achieve this goal by supporting open, heterogeneous management capabilities across all internal and cloud-based systems, from mainframes to mobile devices.

This is a major leap for CA, a company whose strength has always been IT performance management, particularly for mainframe platforms. The broader focus now involves providing key capabilities and solutions to help CIOs on the journey to private cloud enablement and “as-a-service” delivery of applications or application capabilities. CA has not been shy in making the case. As one executive stated, “CIOs not viewing themselves as service providers to their organizations are not adequately addressing the needs of the business.”

While I applaud the position, it also carries risk. CA is aligning itself with CIOs as change agents. In many parts of AP, CIOs are still more interested in maintaining the status quo, which typically means traditional on-premises data center-related investments and minimal disruption. By preaching so forcefully for change enablement, CA is positioning itself well for future strategic growth, but could be risking near-term opportunities in its more traditional, but still stronger, mainframe-centric IT performance management market.

Below is a breakdown of CA’s focus areas and how each is likely to affect the company’s AP regional growth:

  • Accelerate IT. Solutions mainly center around DevOps, but extend to include service virtualization and portfolio management. CA has strong capabilities in this area via the recent Layer 7 and Nolio acquisitions, augmenting the CA LISA service virtualization platform. The company is betting heavily on growth in cloud-based, API-centric ecosystems to fuel longer-term demand. In the near term, however, the focus is on improving application delivery and support. At the event, CA executives claimed that Australian organizations are two to three years behind North America in DevOps adoption, with the rest of AP lagging further behind. I believe that the gap is narrower than this, and closing fast. While CA has a strong story in this area, the company must raise its profile and awareness among application development groups — typically separate from CA’s traditional constituency in infrastructure and operations.
  • Secure IT. Capabilities center on identity management and authentication, key requirements to ensure IT organizations can effectively manage access to applications, services, and information across multiple devices and platforms. This is clearly a growth market, particularly as organizations seek to create or extend systems of engagement to customers as well as other internal and external users. The recently announced partnership with First Point Global is indicative of CA’s intentions in this area, and I expect further announcements in this area as CA ramps up its security-related go-to-market capabilities in the region.
  • Transform IT. This is CA’s traditional market, mainly targeting service assurance and infrastructure management, including application and system availability, performance, and monitoring. As AP organizations invest in private cloud enablement and as-a-service capabilities, CA is potentially well-positioned to help CIOs enable internal change. This was the rationale behind the Nimsoft acquisition in 2010. However, this will require stronger regional partnerships with service providers, as the bulk of “IT/business transformation” initiatives will be driven by the business, not IT.

Re-establishing a strong regional presence has clearly been necessary for CA over the past three or four years after a period of mixed AP results and instability in CA’s regional channel partner program. Overall, I believe the company is well-positioned for solid growth across the region, particularly as it continues to strengthen its channel partnerships. I expect further partner announcements, along with additional acquisitions, throughout 2013 and 2014 as CA extends its capabilities across all three focus areas.