Veritas bangs 'continuous computing' drum

Posted on June 01, 2004

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But integration still poses challenges

By Sonia R. Lelii

Veritas CEO Gary Bloom and his executives spent the bulk of their time making sure the company's "utility computing" message was omnipresent during the company's annual Veritas Vision conference last month.

Veritas first drove a stake into the ground at last year's conference, announcing that it had taken up utility computing as a company-wide strategy, thereby joining the ranks of vendors such as IBM with its "On-Demand" model and Hewlett-Packard with its "Adaptive Enterprise" strategy. This year, Veritas offered more of the same message, but fleshed out its product road map on how the company plans to deliver utility computing as a way for IT managers to reduce operating costs and, at the same time, raise availability and performance levels.

"This year, we are laser-focused on delivering on that strategy," said Jeremy Burton, Veritas' executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "This year, it's all about execution."

A cornerstone of Veritas' utility computing strategy is its CommandCentral product family, a central console introduced last November that discovers both physical resources and applications in an IT environment; streamlines provisioning and configuration; and handles policy-based management, service workflow and automation, reporting, cost allocation, and chargeback.

At last month's event, Veritas announced new modules to CommandCentral that include Storage 4.0 and Availability 4.0. CommandCentral Storage 4.0 is scheduled to ship next month and will replace Veritas' Storage Reporter storage resource management (SRM) software and SANPoint Control SAN management software. The enhanced version now combines SRM and storage area network (SAN) management into one solution, said Glenn J. Groshans, director of product marketing for business continuity at Veritas.

CommandCentral Availability 4.0 provides a centralized view of server clusters, along with reporting functions and chargeback. The software also measures historical and real-time service level agreements (SLAs) for server environments.

As always, Veritas stresses the fact that it only sells software and has no hardware agenda to push on customers. But a large portion of its research and development efforts will go toward integrating all of the technologies the company acquired over the last several years. "Integration is a continuous challenge," said Bloom.

For instance, the company announced that the 7.0 version of its application performance management software, called Veritas i3 (which was obtained through its acquisition of Precise Software), is now in beta testing and will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. The software detects when an application is suffering performance degradation and figures out what part of the system is causing the slowdown.

Veritas is in the process of integrating its application performance management software with other products, such as Veritas Storage Foundation Suite, Cluster Server, and Volume Manager. "This will give more granular detail about storage performance at a file-system and volume-management level," said Groshans. "You can diagnose a problem, pinpoint where it is, and then act on it."

The company also announced limited availability of its MicroMeasure software, obtained through its recent merger with Ejasent. Currently available in limited release to systems integration partners such as EDS and Sun Microsystems, MicroMeasure will be integrated with Veritas' CommandCentral Service module by year-end. "It's going to enhance functionality already in CommandCentral Service," said Groshans.

MicroMeasure will enable usage-based metering, cost allocation, and chargeback billing of all physical and logical components within a data center. The software will also measure how much users and departments consume storage, servers, and applications, eliminating the need for IT administrators to use spreadsheets to manually tabulate these details.

Another Ejasent technology acquisition, UpScale, is scheduled for availability in the first half of 2005 as an extension to Veritas Cluster Server software. UpScale is a high-availability, virtualization application that promises to enable an application to non-disruptively migrate from one server to another when the initial server has problems.

In the coming months, Veritas will focus on integrating all of its software pieces to build a broader utility computing vision. According to CEO Bloom, 60% to 70% of IT costs go toward the labor needed to manage IT infrastructures. So Veritas is looking to leverage the pressure that CIOs are feeling to lower total operational costs. "We clearly have to go from a labor-intensive system to automated management," said Bloom. "Storage is a great place to start because it is the closest thing to a utility."

Analysts note that Veritas is clearly moving away from its backup-centric roots toward being more of a framework management system vendor, putting the company increasingly in competition with vendors such as Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM/Tivoli.

"Veritas is climbing up from the storage realm to the applications realm," says John Webster, an analyst with the Data Mobility Group consulting firm. "They are challenging the framework vendors, [but] I think, for Veritas, the utility computing thing is mostly marketing. It's a way of saying, 'We are not subordinate to anyone.' "

Analyst Jon William Toigo is most impressed with the application performance monitoring technology that Veritas acquired from Precise, which he notes was initially developed for the Israeli intelligence. But he's not that impressed with CommandCentral.

"It's a management console, just like everybody else's," says Toigo. "No one vendor's console is going to be the master console. Users need something based on open standards that will allow integration of best-of-breed products."

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