I think we have an infrastructure strategy that enables e-business.

Charles B Wang, Chairman and CEO, Computer Associates is a
cult figure in the IT world. In 1976, he launched CA with three associates, a single
product and with a single mission–that technology must serve business. CA has since
been an incredible success story. With $5.2 billion in revenues in 1998, CA is today the
world leader in mission-critical business software. CA is not much in the public arena
because its top end products such as Unicenter TNG and Jasmine TND run quietly in the
background, providing vital support to the incredible successes of the world’s
leading companies in diverse fields. The Shanghai-born, 55-year-old Wang is heard with
rapt attention at all technology summits, for his visionary ideas that have made CA what
it is today. He retains a charisma, rare for a corporate leader, mainly for his
down-to-earth approach to business. He roared on to the stage on a motorcycle to open CA
World ’99 in New Orleans to resounding applause.

Assisting him in taking CA to greater heights is Sanjay
Kumar, President and Chief Operating Officer. Considered to be Wang’s heir apparent,
Kumar, 35, runs the day-to-day operations of the IT giant based in Islanidia, New York.

Charles and Sanjay answered a range of questions on such
issues as forthcoming technological developments, the new paradigm facing businesses in
the internet era and CA’s ambitious plans to expand its software development center.
Excerpts from the duo’s interaction with N Suresh of DATAQUEST and other Indian IT
journalists at CA World ’99 in New Orleans.

  •  What are the challenges you are likely to face in getting your larger
    customers to take to the new features, particularly your visualization and Neugents
    technologies? What do you think would really propel that?

I think it is like the situation with most
new technologies. It seems very slow in adoption in the beginning and then it takes up and
you are overwhelmed. The same thing happened with Unicenter. I think that ultimately as
this world becomes smaller, the global community becomes one. And as the bandwidth becomes
more or computing power increases enormously, the need for real automation also increases
enormously.

I aim to drive the top line. As people in
business will realize more and more of this I think they are not going to have to spend
all their time building infrastructure, gluing points, solutions together. We cannot
afford to do it. It is not about money. When I say, cannot afford I mean you cannot afford
to use that time because a sudden Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com will become the market
leader.

  •  What is CA’s strategy for the emerging ecommerce segment?

Well, I don’t think we have any
e-commerce for the sake of having e-commerce strategy. I think we have an infrastructure
strategy that enables e-business, e-commerce and all those things. A good
example–somebody was talking today about trading on the web. That is internet trading
on the web. I mean there is a phenomenal volume increase in that business. Charles Schwab
is one of the largest in that business. Everyone of their transactions is cleared through
a CA infrastructure and a backend CA software. We are doing that for seven years on the
web. We have been there on the web for a long time.

We are in the business of providing
e-business. That is e-commerce stuff. We are in the infrastructure business on which
people can build their applications. We can build these technology tools as well. But our
tools are all the building blocks that they need underneath to have a successful strategy.

 

  • What will you be
    offering the customers if there are restrictions on encryption software that ensures
    better security on the web?

We will continue to offer products from the
Unicenter family. The offer is however subject to the limits of the US government export
regulations. It is a highly open standards based products set. It has been substituting
encryption engines.

The encryption engine is not a very
sophisticated thing. Anybody can substitute the product with a non-US version and comply
with the US regulation.

And its not a big hang up on the part of
the client. I mean, in practical terms literally 16-30 bit encryption is entirely
sufficient. It will take a lot of computing power, plus 32 bits. 128 bit has become the
industry standard. Well, industry is going to go to whatever high number they are going to
get to.

There’s still no concrete example in
the US ever of an ecommerce transaction that has been encrypted, 32-bit of hardware
busted–but we keep adding more and more bits in encryption software.

  •  How are businesses responding to quick technology developments?

Remember that one–mainframe is dead
and only client server will survive. Now client server is dead and everything is internet.
So what are mainframes, client servers, internet? Then NT is going to be game because
Linux is here. Actually, what we have today is–mainframe, client server, internet and
NT.

Technology business is an old medium, It
never gets replaced We are still running flat files, horizontal files, navigation data
bases and they are all continuously piling on. It is like delivering news through the web.
There are more newspapers in circulation today. More magazines in circulation today. More
televisions per family per month around the world today. And yet more people enter the web
and spend their time. They are sleeping less, probably.

But I think this is not just the medium.
While a number of businesses have participated in it. I don’t think it will be
replaced.

But I want you to think about it. Because you remember what
we kept saying–if you believe that the world is heterogeneous and why the
infrastructure is so important so that it can reach to any kind of source of data. It
could be the latest object database like Jasmine. You’ve to be able to integrate all
of this. Otherwise, every time a new word or object is created, you have to try to
re-write everything, replace everything and it will never finish. You will never finish.
As you will keep re-writing all those same accounting products.

  • Isn’t it why
    PC-DOS exists even today?

Absolutely. I am saying at the rate we are
progressing are going to make assumptions. We are going to make infinite bandwidth,
infinite computing power. Just think over it all. Yes! infinite computing power—we
will eat it all up. Probably we are all good at this.

Bandwidth and computing power. We always
think of this as a closet space. See—if you move to a new house, there’s lots of
closet space. Everybody is happy. Oh! so much room. Six months later—where do I put
this? As we progress we eat up whatever power there is.

You’ve to see this more than ever. And
as bandwidth gets bigger and bigger, there are so many ways to getting to it. There’s
another mystery area which is electrical lines—when will they be sending data through
electrical lines. Now think about that—talk about reach. Unbelievable. So that’s
what I say. You have got to be on the internet to use communication vehicles. Its coming.
Look at the advances made in the last few years. In my home I have a cable modem, an ISDN,
I have direct PC and like to see who’s doing what and its unbelievable compared to
only two years ago. There was no cable modem a year ago.

  •  In countries where infrastructure is a problem and
    bandwidth is a problem, what is the solution?

I think probably in countries where there
they do not have bandwidth they have to understand they have to make do with limited
frequencies. So we have to take it, split it and add more data through it and so forth.
What we also have is not just a wireless, we have the satellite and so many more options
that we are doing better and better with compression techniques. This is all coming.

And on computing—infinite computing
power looks very interesting. We talk about this great barrier and I ask myself. When are
you going to have Ghz machines? The problem is not the power. It is the heat generated by
the chip. I was at the Intel laboratory a few months ago and the reason I asked about the
Ghz machine was because I was with Andy Grove and he showed us a processor of 950Mhz.

And I think they will overcome these
barriers.. I think now there are chips at 18 microns or a 600Mhz desktop machine can pull
25W, and a notebook computer temperature can pull 3-5W. And that’s a strong kind of a
technology that’s going to come. So you are going to have probably 12 microns or
less.

  • Now about CA
    activities in India. Are you going to continue with software development or are you
    seriously going to look at the Indian market for CA products?

But Ven Subbarao (India Country Manager) is
doing exactly that. He is starting the process where we are looking to establish local
joint ventures for application software.

We are selling the enterprises in addition
to Unicenter products which are downscale. We have sold a lot of products in the down
market space. It is not any different from a market like China. Russia is a slow market.
Eastern Europe is similar. The people are very focused on that. So it is a good market for
us. We recognize India as a market for both software development which we are doing but
equally important as a market where we intend to sell products and make money.

  • Both of you are coming
    to India later this year. What is the agenda?

To get to see the market place, to meet the
local clients, local partners and I’ve never been to India and I want to spend the
time to get to know the market place and you have to start somewhere.

From our perspective, we are doing more and more things in
India. Then help people developing it into an organization of 250 people in the technology
business. We have a couple of million dollar deals there in terms of products and lots and
lots of small deals and good customers. It is a growing market place. We have now invested
in the development centre but are essentially looking for another development location. We
have done that investment in local products, taken interest in joint venture
investments—probably just $10 to 15 million. And I believe that five years will cover
the investment. That is a second development centre with as many people as in the first
one.

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