InformationWeek Q&A With Bill Gates And Charles Wang
On August 27, Computer Associates and Microsoft announced plans to create tighter integration between CA's Unicenter TNG management system and Microsoft software, resulting in what the companies described as a mission-critical infrastructure for managing enterprise applications, including those on the World Wide Web. CA and Microsoft will use the HyperMedia Management Schema [HMMS} and the HyperMedia Management Protocol [HMMP] to support compatibility between their products. In addition, CA will integrate Microsoft's ActiveX Controls, Wolfpack clustering API, Component Object Model (COM) and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) with Unicenter TNG. CA will also distribute Microsoft Internet Explorer with its Unicenter TNG developer kits.
Following the announcement at the CA World conference in New Orleans, CA chairman and CEO Charles Wang and Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates discussed the arrangement with InformationWeek managing editor/news John Soat and editor at large John Foley.
IW: Computer Associates announced partnerships with both Tandem and Microsoft this week. And Microsoft and Tandem are already working together to bring clustering to Windows NT. It's been suggested that Microsoft, CA, and Tandem are forming a triumvirate to become the newest power in the computer industry. What do you think of that idea?
Gates: Once CA and Microsoft got aligned to get Unicenter TNG to support Windows NT very well, and with the development relationship that we have, a lot of things come out of that. We had worked with Tandem ourselves on these clustering APIs. Now as part of the Microsoft relationship, Computer Associates is supporting the Wolfpack APIs, which lets them work with Tandem. You saw the same thing with Intel. We both have Intel as a common partner. And this morning we saw another partner that's taking what we're doing together and building on it--that's the CA-Vanstar announcement. I really think the theme of our working together--taking the strengths of Microsoft and the strengths of CA, right at this time as people are looking at NT as a great solution, looking at it to meet their Internet needs--has struck a responsive chord. The Tandem thing is great, but I see that as one of many partners that will come along.
Wang: It's the same thing with DEC [Digital Equipment]. We have a triangle put together with DEC also.
Gates: DEC is here at CA World. CA has integrated Digital's Polycenter product into their product family, so there's a strong CA- DEC relationship. DEC was the first company to really get behind NT, and they took their impressive field resources and got them trained on NT and delivering NT solutions. They've been out-front on this thing. It's been great for them because it lets them showcase their Alpha server, and their service activities. We've been talking to them about the work we [Microsoft and CA] are doing together, and it's a good development for them.
IW: There was little mention of Microsoft's System Management Server in today's announcement, but there was a reference to "future management products" in today's announcement. What is the future of SMS? And what new products were you referring to?
Gates: Some of what we're doing is taking the idea of manageability and building it into NT itself, so that you can go [into NT] and get the information. [Microsoft's system management group] does two things: They build manageability for the NT product, and they build this add-on piece called SMS [Systems Management Server]. SMS is not aimed at having the full set of things that Unicenter TNG does in terms of the breadth and the heterogeneity that's there. There's a way that TNG and Unicenter can work together: We end up doing most of the client-side code, and Unicenter ends up doing the master server code. You can also have a server in between that has either Unicenter or SMS as you're pooling the information you want to see all in one place. For us, it's all about NT. That's why we have the systems management group, to strengthen NT. We have the relationship with Computer Associates to help strengthen NT.
IW: Going forward, you will not position SMS as an enterprise manager?
Gates: It depends on what somebody wants. If you look at all the things Unicenter does, most of those [are not in SMS]. There's a few things like software distribution--both products work on that; they're complementary. If you say Unicenter has about 12 things, there's about three of those where both products have functionality. We've got to make sure that they're complementary. CA is providing a very in-depth solution here. The customers we met with responded very well to this. I'm actually pretty amazed, both at the level of interest and the understanding of complementary skill sets.
IW: What can you tell us about the extent of the CA-Microsoft relationship? Are Microsoft engineers on-site at CA's headquarters on Long Island and vice versa?
Wang: Both sides know the schedule of flights from New York to Seattle very well, but there are no people on-site. We work very closely together. But with today's technology, why do you have to sit next to each other? There's really no need for that.
Gates:: CA is one of very few companies that has the NT source code. As we're doing a new version, more than a year in advance, we're sitting down with CA and going through that. TNG is a very flexible product. It represents a big step up for Computer Associates in terms of what they can do. We can add things to the [management] schema, and TNG right away knows how to adapt to whatever new objects are put into it. The architectural richness of the way we're working together gives us a nice separation of how work gets done.
IW: Is CA the first company to get the Wolfpack APIs?
Gates: We're not trying to hold those back or anything. The protocols we're announcing here for management and clustering are pretty widely available. CA is the system management vendor we've done the most work with, but that doesn't say we won't have that information available to other people. The whole idea of clustering appeals very directly to the kinds of customers that CA has been strong in--people that want the reliability or the scalability that you get through clustering. Clustering is sort of the last mainframe thing [that NT still lacks]--clustering and rich transaction processing, which we're working hard on right now. They are sort of the two last mainframe approaches that you don't see in Windows NT, and there's a clear need for those things.
Wang: Working together, we looked at what CA had, what TNG was, at the schema, and at the object model. The development teams got together, and we adopted HMMS as a subset of the TNG architecture, and Microsoft said the TNG architecture would be a superset of what they're doing. This gives our clients relief to know where both companies are going. Microsoft is coming from the desktop environment up into the enterprise, pushing NT, and there was this tremendous need. People were afraid there would be a clash [between Unicenter and NT] and it might be incompatible in some way. We're coming down from the mainframe. The beauty of this [announcement] is that it all hooks together.
Gates: To give a concrete example of that, say you have a company that decides SMS meets their needs, but then they expand or get bought by another company. Because of the common schema, you can take the TNG system that the larger company is using and immediately connect in. So having the common schema is a very big deal, and it's really been a missing piece. The main management protocol that's been out there is SNMP [Simple Network Management Protocol], but it doesn't really support a schema at all. It's not rich enough to do the types of things we're talking about here. In doing the joint design work, with our understanding of the PC and CA's understanding of enterprise management, we got those in one room and people doing design together.
IW: We've been tracking the scalability of NT for a long time now. The CA-Tandem and CA-Microsoft arrangements seem to address that issue. How close is NT to being ready to work in enterprise, data center environments?
Gates: You guys know that our fastest growing business is the work we're doing in the enterprise. We've done a lot on the support side. We've done a lot on the technology side. We don't think we can do it all, and partnerships like the one with CA are recognition of that. [On Monday,] I was the keynote at the SAP user conference. They're a great example of a company whose customers used to have to do applications on the mainframe, and their biggest platform now is Windows NT. You have people, including Microsoft, who run their business using SAP on NT. That's another common platform with CA; they've tied Unicenter into the SAP applications as well.
The term scalability, if you take it in the narrow sense, just means performance. If you take it in the broad sense--can you manage it all? can you make it all coherent without the cost involved being too high?--this fits right in. In the narrow sense, people can track the TPPC performance of Windows NT. From '93 until today, we've gone up by a factor of 10 in that, and in the next three years we can make that same type of progress. There are many elements that come into play: There's faster Intel processors, there's more SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] scaling, there's software tuning, there's clustering. There's use of large memory, including 64-bit addressing, to get pretty massive caching, and then lots of things in the database engine itself that come along. We're able to take Microsoft, for example, and do very well running all of our applications on Windows NT products. In fact, the [internal] application that uses the most cycles is our messaging system. In a sense, that's our biggest application. It's on more servers, uses up more CPU cycles than anything else. And that's purely e announcements today on Unicenter TNG, but if you go down to the exhibition floor you can see that CA applications are up on NT, and they can talk to you about customers who are using those things. TNG is what we spend the most time on, but the relationship is quite broad.
IW: Could you eventually package NT clusters with Unicenter?
Wang: Why? We work so closely together. We're going to be shipping Unicenter. And they come on a CD where you can then get a key for whichever system you want.
Gates: It's much more important for us to get our sales force trained and take [this agreement] to showcase customers and get the word out. One of the things that's been interesting to me in joint meetings with customers is that CA does a lot of multiyear enterprisewide agreements where they'll take a broad set of products and do a pretty simple framework agreement around that. For customers like that, they don't want a bundled product because they've already got everything they want. [Microsoft] will be doing more of those similar types of agreements with people; in fact, following a model very similar to what CA has done, with the very large customers.
IW: You mentioned that CA and Microsoft had a joint customer meeting to discuss your partnership. Are you going to have more such meetings?
Gates: That was at a very technical level. In the last six months, Charles was nice enough to have both Bob Herbold, who's our chief operating officer, and Steve Ballmer, who runs all our sales and marketing, come to some of the CIO get-togethers that Computer Associates has. And so there will be an on-going series of joint marketing things, whether it's Microsoft seminars that CA people come to or big CA events, and showing the complementary message.
Wang: We've had tremendous feedback from the clients that they want us to do this. One of the things we probably will do is hold another review somewhere pretty soon because there's a pent-up demand to know, OK, what are you guys really doing?" We're going to be working together on that.
Comments on this story?
"Adam sucks so you don't have to." Kinda like "Christ died for YOUR sins," except more practical, since Christ's efforts don't get you off the hook for enjoying an Arch Deluxe (not a sin, but definitely sucks!). -- Rohit Khare