CA is introducing a free distributed database management tool aimed at helping administrators manage heterogeneous databases across their networks.

Unicenter Database Command Center (DCC) is a web-based database management console that customers can download to any browser-enabled device. CA says DCC, which does not need any client software installed on databases, provides administrators with a common look and feel when working across various systems.

"This tool allows you to manage and execute commands on various databases such as Oracle and DB2," says Rich Ptak, principal analyst with research firm Ptak, Noel & Associates. "It's going to help customers because going forward the big issue in management is how to coordinate multiple configuration and other databases. This type of unified console is a start."

While each database vendor provides management tools for its own offerings, CA says DCC lets customers perform administration tasks on DB2 UDB for z/OS, Oracle, DB2 UDB for Linux Unix, Windows and Ingres database. Ingres is CA's open source database technology, which the company spun off last year for further development in the open source community.

DCC lets administrators bring data in from different database or out for reporting purposes, as well as provides reorganisation capabilities, which is much like a PC defragmentation process that puts the data back into an efficient format.

"When you don't reorg your databases, you are wasting space and most likely suffering from performance issues," says David Schipper, vice president of product management at CA.

DCC also provides centralised schema management, which lets database administrators create, alter and rename objects specific to each type of database from a common interface, CA says. DCC also provides unified cross-platform account management tools that enable administrators to grant and revoke access privileges and assign user roles.

The free download could lead more database management customers to CA, Ptak says. DCC gets customers started and comfortable with the CA management interface across the various platforms and potentially opens the door for CA to gain market share from competitors such as BMC and Quest.

"It's based on the open source model, in which customers get something to start and then can grow as they'd like to other licensed products," he says.

DCC integrates with higher-level database management tools, such as Unicenter Fast Unload (pricing starts at US$800 for a licence) and Unicenter Tsreorg (pricing starts at $1,000).

Customers can download the free software from CA's trial page.