Symantec starts SaaS-based operational services

By Kevin Komiega

-- Symantec today expanded its software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings with Web-based tools that assess and monitor the health of servers and storage systems by validating hardware and software configurations in large, complex IT shops.

The additions to Symantec's SaaS portfolio, dubbed Veritas Operations Services (VOS), are all about preventive maintenance, using known good configurations, best practices and data-center risks and scanning the data center to make sure systems are up to snuff.

The first iteration of Veritas Operations Services tracks best practices, optimal configurations, and hardware and software compatibility lists for Veritas Storage Foundation and Veritas Cluster Server, as well as various operating systems and SAN software and firmware.

A collection of Web-based services use this intelligence to identify "bad" hardware and software configurations or risks and provide users with alerts that include step-by-step guides for fixing problems.

Sean Derrington, director of storage management and high availability at Symantec, says the SaaS approach makes version upgrades and new installations easier by validating the complete stack prior to starting the process. He adds that the focus of Veritas Operations Services is to reduce the operational costs associated with storage management by identifying hidden risks in the IT environment.

"There are so many moving parts to the IT environment that keeping all configuration and patch information up-to-date and correct is difficult," says Derrington. "Using VOS proactively identifies configuration problems and notifies users about known risks to help them better deliver application services to the business."

The Veritas Installation Assessment Service, the first of several planned offerings under the VOS umbrella, uses Web-based validation of configurations in the server and storage infrastructure. Features of the service include automated, agent-less data collection and reports that indicate pass, fail, or warning of critical configuration variables with Web-based hyperlinks to required patches and relevant documentation.

The Installation Assessment also provides a patch notification service for available patches related to a user's server and storage configurations.

The agent-less assessment can run on a single server or across multiple servers and operating systems without requiring the installation of Veritas Storage Foundation or Veritas Cluster Server.

Other Symantec services currently available include a Storage Foundation Health Check, which identifies configuration errors within Storage Foundation that can result in downtime, performance issues, and poor resource utilization.

The Installation Assessment Service is available at no cost to current Veritas Storage Foundation and Cluster Server users with maintenance contracts. The service is available to users without maintenance agreements for a price of $500 per physical server.

Symantec's internal data shows that about 40% of the servers tested by the assessment service are running in bad configurations. The top root causes of errors, according to Derrington, are arrays with insufficient disk space or hardware compatibility issues.

Related articles:
Symantec enters online backup with SaaS
Symantec updates Storage Foundation for Windows
Symantec takes new tack toward clustering

This article was originally published on November 17, 2008