Wang: Group your resources
- By Florence Olsen
- Mar 03, 1997
GCN: How do you get your software listed on federal
WANG: We're partners with several system integrators-Electronic Data
Systems Corp., Computer Sciences Corp., Digital Equipment Corp., so we may have all three
bidding our software on the same contract.
The enterprise today consists of networks, systems, databases and applications, and
we manage that infrastructure. I think many [government] organizations are not there yet
in managing all that, but I think they're going to be there, because the cost of doing it
piecemeal will be prohibitive.
GCN: How big a quality problem are
organizations having with network service?
WANG: It's a huge problem, and we as a technical company have a
responsibility not to "spin" our clients. We have a long way to go to achieve
correct bandwidth, security and so forth, because we've gone from a single mainframe
environment to a completely distributed environment where you don't even know where the
server is, yet you have to manage that infrastructure.
We're not talking about one platform like in the old days. We're talking about
managing Microsoft Windows NT, Unix, Novell NetWare, the mainframe and the IBM AS/400. If
you stop to figure out the possible combinations and permutations, it's mind-boggling.
GCN: Quality software engineering is a big concern at the Defense
Department and must be a concern of yours, too. What software quality procedures do you
enforce within CA?
WANG: The first release of a software product is easy. It's once you have
a user base that you start to have version-control problems. We have very tight
version-control procedures, tight check-in and check-out
of source code, so that we work from a
common code base. We use our own tool, CA-Endevor, to manage this.
As much as possible, we try to componentize code so we can reuse it. With
CA-Unicenter TNG [management software],
we went with a complete object model, a fancier name for common components.
With an object model, you minimize changes. But because you have common components
and are using them in many
different places, you must have very tight version control.
Being the largest business software company with probably the largest number of
products, we've got to be very careful how we build those components.
GCN: How are you making your 500 products ready for the year 2000?
WANG: Probably 85 percent of our products are ready today. By the end of
1997, we'll have 100 percent ready. Unlike a lot of government agencies and private
companies, we have been working on year 2000 compliance for 10 years.
If you're doing backup with a tape library system, one of our key products, that
system must be set up to make sure you won't overwrite a tape when you don't want to.
That means I had to have year 2000 support for backup tape library systems in 1990.
Our clients were demanding year 2000 support, and by the end of 1989, we had it.
The difficult part is testing to validate that whatever you changed didn't screw up
something else. By June, we hope to finish an add-on product for our CA-Impact/2000 tool
that will let you generate new source code with expanded date fields and then verify
whether all references to date fields are using the expanded field.
GCN: What are your rules for managing an IT organization?
WANG: Executives that defer completely to their technical people make a
mistake. I think you must have a partnership with your technical people. The disconnect
between business operations people and technical people is tremendous, and you have to
close that gap.
My management philosophy always has been to make sure people understand that
technology is a tool. Don't create elegant solutions in search of problems. Fix the
problem, and that's it. I'm a simple man in that sense.
GCN: Is that why you put "business process views" into
WANG: Our idea was that government
managers and business people who pay for enterprise management technology don't look at
the world in terms of systems and networks. They want to deal only with the resources that
make up those applications.
Unicenter TNG gives technical people the ability to group resources by what we call
business process views, so that if I'm interested in accounts payable, I deal only with
the status of the resources that make up accounts payable.
GCN: Are we on the wrong track with client-server technology-is it too
WANG: I don't think it's too complicated. Those who've failed at it think
it's too complicated. Those who have succeeded think there probably is something newer and
better coming along.