Talk about a culture clash. CA’s purchase of 3Tera is more than just CA getting more of a foothold into the cloud (if that’s not a mixed metaphor) but shows the difference between two sharply contrasting companies.

CA is as old world as it gets, its rather stodgy image shaken by the accounting scandals in the earlier part of the decade, but it’s never been regarded as trendsetter when it comes to innovation. 3Tera is the exact opposite: it’s relatively new, it’s small and, more important, nimble when it comes to addressing new markets. For a company of about 20 employees, it’s certainly generated a lot of noise in the past couple of years.

There are two other important points about 3Tera; one is that it’s a cloud company, built, designed and optimised for the cloud; second is that has been tightly focused on making the cloud more accessible. Its AppLogic grid software  has allowed developers to create their own applications for the cloud and the software has been used widely by service providers as a way to offer discrete services to their customers.

The company has signed up some significant deals with service providers and has been a pace setter in cloud certification skills, hitherto a bit of a desert.

But, as our story on the deal, makes clear, the company has been based on Xen - which has been fine for its existing customer base but may well present a bit of a challenge to CA.  The company clearly needs to break out of the Xen embrace and start working with VMware and Microsoft. There are some other issues too: Forrester analyst James Staten has pointed out that some customers have raised objections about the usability of the software and explained that CA will still have some work to do to make the software practicable.

But CA, which has been on steep learning curve to get into the cloud -only yesterday joining the Cloud Security Alliance - looks already like it’s up for the challenge. It’s quite a change for a company forged in the less than the white-heat of 70s mainframe computing to re-emerge as a major player in the nascent world of the cloud. There’s a long way to go yet of course but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.