What Happened at CA World: Mobility, DevOps and, Yes, the Mainframe

After attending at least five CA Worlds over the years, the most recent show in Las Vegas hummed with a new kind of vitality. Here are some of my first impressions of what I saw and heard at CA World 2013.

From our own CEO’s comments to the booths to customers describing their work, the talk and excitement went far beyond the usual topics, such as ITIL and service management. CA World has always been really practical, pragmatic and useful. This year it also had an excitement that I hadn’t felt before. What struck me especially was how our customers are finding new ways to drive innovation and business value in everything from mobile to DevOps to mainframes.

First up is mobility. My conversations at CA World drove home to me how mobility is fundamentally changing the role of IT and how it develops apps. On the show floor I was looking at videos on iPads. I was doing demos of our software on a tablet. It went beyond just apps running on phones; it involved the full range of capabilities it takes to empower a mobile workforce. CIOs told me their sales people want to log expenses while they’re in the airport. Their production managers want to check inventory on an iPad when they’re on the factory floor. Their engineers need to look up schematics while they’re on-site with a customer.

Mobility is also driving expectations of rapid, incremental and automatic improvements and enhancements to applications. Think about the almost daily updates you get to the applications on your smartphone. Enterprise mobile app users expect the same. We’re going from releasing software once every six months, if we’re lucky, to weeks or maybe even days for mobile apps. Even significant new features might come only weeks after the last release. This fundamental speed requirement is driving the second trend: DevOps.

DevOps combines development and operations in a continuous, incremental process of ongoing improvement and rapid deployment. It’s driven by an urgency for innovation and a tolerance for apps not being fully baked, as long as you can correct problems quickly. That’s why there was such excitement about the Nolio and Layer 7 acquisitions, and the new version of our LISA Service Virtualization Suite, which we announced at the show.

Nolio automates application deployment, collapsing release activities from days to minutes. Layer 7 helps secure the APIs that are at the heart of the services CIOs deliver over both internal and cloud-based resources. These capabilities very much tie in to how we see roles changing for CIOs and IT departments. They are becoming brokers and orchestrators of services, assuring proper management and security of services. This is a more “grown up” approach than allowing individual developers to use individual APIs that would create future information silos. I think that grabbed the attention of people who are thinking, what is my role as a CIO, as an IT leader?

The third exciting area was the mainframe. It’s easy to think about the mainframe as this big, old dinosaur in the back room that no one wants to or knows how to use. But it seems to me that the mainframe is a massively parallel and scalable processing machine that is a great source for efficient, manageable cloud computing power, rather than redundant arrays of cheap servers ganged together running Linux. And in fact, customers were telling me about how the mainframe’s been so important to their cloud efforts and will be really important in mobility, DevOps and Big Data analytics.

What I found most exciting was that these trends weren’t pie-in-the-sky promises and predictions from the podium. Each was the result of real-world passion from customers on the show floor. They’re on fire about how they’re using both new and existing technologies, and our latest tools, to transform their businesses.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or missed some of the sessions, I suggest you grab some of the excitement by checking out the CA World Virtual Conference.

 This blog was originally posted on CA Technologies Innovation blog at http://blogs.ca.com/innovation/2013/05/29/what-happened-at-ca-world-mobility-devops-and-yes-the-mainframe/