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Computer Associates acquires desktop specialist Miramar

Miramar Systems and its Desktop DNA product are now part of Computer Associates' holdings. One analyst explains how this deal affects the market for software that manages Windows systems.

Computer Associates International Inc. broadened its desktop manageability portfolio late last week with the acquisition of privately held Miramar Systems Inc. in an all cash deal.

Miramar, Santa Barbara, Calif., makes patented software that collects the "personality" of a PC, which makes it easier for an IT administrator to move or fix a machine if necessary.

Miramar's Desktop DNA is a configuration management product that is helpful when either moving to a new machine or reinstalling after a hard drive crash, said Allan Anderson, director of product management for Unicenter, CA's management platform.

It's also useful if you are upgrading to Windows 2000 or XP and you want to keep your settings, Anderson said. "In large deployments, this becomes critical," he said.

Anderson said Miramar's technology was a central piece missing in CA's product portfolio. CA has already worked successfully with Miramar for nine months. Anderson said the product will be integrated into CA's Unicenter management, Brightstor and eTrust platforms, but customers still will be able to purchase Desktop DNA as standalone software.

And Islandia, N.Y.-based CA is also preparing to expand Desktop DNA's capabilities beyond Windows to other operating systems, such as Linux and Unix, Anderson said.

Though CA claims to hold a dominant spot in desktop management, at least one longtime systems management software consultant disagrees. Richard Ptak, principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates, Amherst, N.H., said that CA has desktop management products but is not the dominant powerhouse it is in the mainframe and storage software markets, for example.

"The big players, [CA, IBM Tivoli and Hewlett-Packard Co.] have discovered the desktop late," Ptak said. "They've started to make some moves during the past three years, but they've stepped gently around Microsoft, happy to fight for the bigger dollars in the server market."

"[The purchase of Miramar] will extend CA's offerings but not really increase its visibility [in the desktop market]," Ptak said.

Miramar was among the companies planning to launch the SMS-Alliance at this week's Microsoft Management Summit 2004 in Las Vegas. The alliance is a loose organization of vendors that plan to use each other as cross references for customers seeking Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS)-related technologies. Anderson said that it wasn't clear if CA would continue that involvement with the SMS-Alliance. "We are undecided," he said.


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