Chris O'Malley is working overtime to pump more innovation into the big iron market -- namely the software market for IBM mainframes. As CEO of Compuware, O'Malley doesn't harp on market headwinds facing mainframes. Instead, he prefers to focus on new workloads -- big data, mobile, Internet of Things, and social -- that demand new types of mainframe software.

Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, announced plans to acquire Compuware in September 2014 for $2.5 billion. O'Malley -- a CA Technologies Inc. veteran -- joined Compuware ahead of the transaction. He arrived with eyes wide open.

During an interview with Information Management, O'Malley conceded that some CIOs didn't understand where mainframe hardware and software fit into the cloud and mobile conversation. Moreover, software innovation -- in some areas -- seemed to be waning. Plus, many mainframe experts were aging out of the market, taking boatloads of technical knowledge with them.

Shifting the Conversation

Fast forward to the present and O'Malley says Compuware has made progress mitigating those issues. He sees Compuware's Topaz technology as a potential springboard that will launch millennials toward mainframes. And a new Compuware-BMC partnership delivers innovative ways to drive down monthly IBM licensing costs, he asserts.

O'Malley has been down the innovation road before. In addition to his mainframe expertise at CA, he also ran that company's faster-growth Nimsoft business for about a year. Nimsoft, which CA acquired in 2010, is a popular platform (now called Unified Infrastructure Management) for remotely managing customer infrastructure or service provider infrasturcture. 

Still, the Compuware opportunity also has complex challenges. Somehow, O'Malley and his management team must blend the worlds of mainframes and COBOL with big data, cloud, mobile and social opportunities. There again, O'Malley points to Topaz -- which allows developers and data architects to discover, visualize and work with both mainframe and non-mainframe data in a common manner.

The results sound promising. Although Compuware no longer discloses revenues or net income, O'Malley says Compuware's net new bookings rose 20 percent in December 2014 vs. December 2013. And by March of 2015, it sounds like the new BMC-Compuware partnership will begin to yield its first fruit -- integrated tools from both companies that strive to drive down mainframe software costs.


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