CA Customers Hang Tough

After a particularly rough year that has included a string of unflattering press articles, a vicious proxy battle to unseat its board of directors and now federal investigations into alleged accounting misdeeds, some users are wondering what the toll might be on Computer Associates International Inc.'s installed base.

"I am concerned about [the] long-term effects to the health of CA," said Ben Ettlinger, lead data modeler at the New York Power Authority in Albany. The state-run power agency uses CA's ERwin data modeling and BPwin business-process modeling tools, among other products. "Will this negative publicity scare away potential customers and stunt CA's growth?" he asked.

Still, he said, the only way the authority would cut ties with Islandia, N.Y.-based CA is if the "software, service and product support breaks down to an unmanageable level."

CA President and CEO Sanjay Kumar said the firm's customers are being supportive.

"I gauge [any potential damage] by whether customers are buying and if they're paying their bills and still want to do things with you," he said. He noted that most of CA's largest customers backed CA during the proxy fight last summer, and he said he's confident they will continue to do so during the federal investigation.

One CA user said his primary concern isn't CA's health, but whether the newfound attention users are getting will dissipate after these problems are past. "I think CA has a core of users who like what they see at CA," said the user, a state data security administrator who requested anonymity. The companies that might have the greatest concerns are those that have just recently bought CA's products or that are still on the fence, he said, adding that the people he knows who handle IT purchasing believe CA will make it through the crises.

"At this time, I am not worried about delivery of products or services," said Andrew Winer, CIO at Myers Industries Inc., an Akron, Ohio-based maker of plastic and rubber products. Winer said he would be especially concerned only if the government proved there had been any wrongdoing.

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