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CA Inc. (NASDAQ:CA) is finally waking up to opportunities in software as a service (SaaS) and managed services.

During the company's CAWorld conference Sunday in Las Vegas, CA introduced three SaaS and managed services applications. The efforts could help CA to generate recurring monthly revenue for disaster recovery, project management and corporate compliance software.

CA is a bit late to the managed services and SaaS markets. Although SaaS stocks are down 50 percent from January to Nov. 14 2008, I remain convinced that more and more of the IT channel will shift to SaaS solutions.

Jumping On the CA Bandwagon

In a wise move, CA is including partners in its SaaS and managed services strategies. True believers in the strategy include masterIT, one of the world's top managed service providers, according to the annual MSPmentor 100 research report.

Clearly, this is not the CA we all grew up with. A few years ago, Fortune Magazine called Computer Associates The Most Dysfunctional Company in America. An accounting scandal ultimately landed former CA CEO Sanjay Kumar in prison.

But under the more recent leadership of IBM veteran John Swainson, CA has gradually regained the trust of customers and Wall Street. I live a few miles from CA's headquarters and know quite a few of its employees. From what I've heard, CEO Swainson has changed major portions of CA’s DNA for the better. And Wall Street was upbeat after CA’s earnings results in October.

Challenges Remain

Now for the problem: CA is a bit late to the managed services and SaaS markets. Although SaaS stocks are down 50 percent from January to Nov. 14 2008, I remain convinced that more and more of the software market will shift to SaaS solutions.

It’s still early in CA’s SaaS game. And there are still a few missing links. I’m eager to see if/when CA launches an on-demand version of ARCserve, the company’s on-premise backup and restore program.

Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC), increasingly a CA rival, has already launched the Symantec Protection Network -- an online storage service that also integrates with Backup Exec, Symantec’s on-premise storage management software. Over time, Symantec Protection Network will also include security capabilities.

Given their strong positions in both storage and security management, I expect to see CA and Symantec competing fiercely in the SaaS market. And that competition begins this week at CAWorld in Las Vegas.

Disclosure: no positions

Source: CA Inc. Pitches SaaS Triple Play