Veritas branches out

By Simon Robinson

At its recent Vision conference, Veritas introduced some key updates to its product line and provided a glimpse into its future product plans, particularly around storage virtualization, continuous data protection (CDP), and the integration of backup with archiving. The updates could enable Veritas to extend its already strong position in enterprise backup and allow it to enter adjacent markets-a strategic move that The 451 Group believes is a step in the right direction.

Veritas announced a new version of its enterprise-level data-protection software, NetBackup 6.0, with some improvements in disk-based backup support, integrated system recovery, and backup reporting.

NetBackup 6.0 also includes tight integration with Network Appliance’s snapshot software and NearStore secondary storage systems. This is significant because it represents the first real product deliverable from Veritas’ two-year strategic pact with NetApp, a relationship that grew up in the wake of EMC ’s acquisition of Legato.

In addition, Veritas launched a new translator that allows users to mount files in their native format on NearStore systems as a standard file share, as well as in their Veritas backup format. As a result, users can restore individual files or folders directly from NearStore devices, eliminating the need for administrator intervention. This integration also eliminates duplicated or redundant block data on NearStore systems, as well as improving disk-based backup performance.

Veritas also provided at its Vision conference a sneak preview of its plans to tap into a number of emerging markets, particularly disk-based backup, CDP, storage virtualization, and integrated management of backup and archiving.

The next release of NetBackup will introduce a couple of new themes, including the concept of SAN-wide backup utilizing a large pool of heterogeneous shared disk. This is an effort to unify SAN-based virtualization with backup, something Veritas claims no vendor has yet managed to achieve, but which could transform the efficiency of disk backup.

Another theme of the new release is remote-office data protection and management-highlighted by Veritas as a stubborn, and disproportionately expensive, problem for most large organizations. New software features will focus on data-reduction techniques such as compression and bandwidth optimization.

The company is also working on its first CDP product. Unlike most of the emerging CDP start-ups, Veritas sees disk-based CDP as a feature of backup, rather than a stand-alone product category, sitting at the polar opposite of incremental/full tape backups on the data-protection spectrum. Recovery can be achieved by searching a directory of all saved versions of the required file, browsing “recent activity” or, perhaps most interestingly, through a Google-like search browser. This emphasizes the fact that Veritas is pushing recovery as a tool that will increasingly be used by end users, not just administrators. The company is even starting to talk about “downloading” files as opposed to “recovering” them.

Veritas is taking its leading position in enterprise backup a step further with some key improvements, while also providing a solid game plan for disk-based backup and other emerging applications. The 451 Group has been saying for some time that Veritas should be doing more to leverage its dominant position in the backup market into some emerging tangential markets.

Veritas now seems to be doing this with its announcements at the Vision conference, where it demonstrated that a number of long-term efforts are starting to come together, especially around integration with Network Appliance systems, CDP, and archive-backup integration. This should help reassure users that Symantec’s pending acquisition of Veritas is not distracting the company from its future product development efforts.

The 451 Group nonetheless expects the competitive landscape for Veritas to change as it hooks up with Symantec, and it can expect to run into much stronger competition from vendors such as IBM and Microsoft-particularly as Veritas continues its agenda to expand beyond backup and enter into areas such as virtualization and utility computing.

To access the full report on this topic, “Veritas focuses Vision on core data protection, offers glimpse into future,” visit www.the451group.com/intake/infostor-jun05.

Simon Robinson is the sector head for storage and systems at The 451 Group (www.the451group.com), an independent IT consulting and research firm.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2005