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CA wants customers to ditch old versions of software

Since CA Technologies CEO Mike Gregoire joined the company from SaaS talent management company Taleo (now part of Oracle), it's not surprising that he is keen to get as many of CA's customers onto current versions of their software.

After all, one of the selling points of SaaS is that customers are kept up to date with no effort on their part, and the companies behind those products have more predictable revenues and do not have the responsibility of maintaining old versions.

CA's policy is to continue to maintain each version of its software indefinitely. While no development work is done on old versions, changes are made if needed to accommodate new versions of the operating system, for example.

SaaS "is such a better solution" compared with perpetual licensing, Mr Gregoire said.

He is committed to increasing the proportion of customers that are on the current versions of whichever CA products they use, primarily so they can take advantage of the innovations in those new versions, but also to reduce their staffing costs.

Getting customers onto current versions is "one of the biggest problems in all of tech," he said. "I feel an obligation to go tackle that problem."

ANZ chief technology officer Carl Terrantroy said the use of old and heavily customised software was "a huge issue" in Australia as the attitude tends to be "if it's not a problem, don't touch it."

Making changes would not be a simple process, and CA will need to find ways to mitigate the risks faced by those customers.

"It's always a risk when you're changing environments, so you have to make it compelling for them."

Part of the problem is that some customers don't realise that what they can and should measure has changed. For example, network infrastructure is now very reliable, so monitoring for unplugged cables is not very valuable.

Instead, organisations can monitor transaction times and only worry about things like cable issues when those times go out of tolerance.

"It's a cultural thing," Mr Terrantroy suggested.

Mr Gregoire will be looking to find a way to get business value for both parties from the upgrade process. "We have to incent them [customers]," he said, but expects success providing the company can get the opportunity to show customers how they can get more value from new software.

He added "This is hard. I recognise the challenges... but I think we have to tackle this."

"At the end of the day, we'll all end up [using cloud software]."

Disclosure: The writer attended CA World as the guest of the company.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.