It was hard to come away unimpressed from last week's CA-World '98 conference in New Orleans. Computer Associates International's Unicenter systems management suite has built up a head of steam and appears ready to take its place as a legitimate corporate software platform.
The reason Unicenter is succeeding says a lot about the shifting priorities in corporate computing organisations, namely, a move away from best-of-breed thinking and toward product integration as a key feature.
Integration was CA's mantra at the conference, and it struck a chord with the users I talked with. All have shelves of unused software products they bought for their great features and abandoned because those products didn't talk to anything else.
Corporate users are responding to the integration pitch across the board. Witness the surging popularity of enterprise resource planning products such as SAP, Oracle Financials and PeopleSoft. The systems integration business is booming.
Microsoft Office is a corporate standard because it has no-brainer installation and a single point of contact for support. Ditto Windows NT and a host of other add-on products. The emerging corporate technology platforms are the ones that offer the least hassle.
Best-of-breed isn't dead, but it's by no means the most important motivator in IT buying decisions today. That reality will continue to drive the acquisition trend in the software industry and the dominance of vendors that can pull technology together in a single place.