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As companies like Sun Microsystems and Microsoft encroach on Veritas' core business, the company is focusing on its strengths in supporting multiple hardware and operating system platforms, while rivals like Sun tend to focus on their own platforms.
"We are sort of like Switzerland," said Mark Bregman, executive vice-president of product operations at Veritas. "While there is a lot of rhetoric floating around from some other guys, there are large barriers of entry for them. Users want a system that allows them to mix and match hardware suppliers; they want software that is independent of, and agnostic about, the hardware."
Vendors like Sun, IBM, EMC and Microsoft have indicated plans to bundle additional storage management features into their core software systems over the next few years. This puts additional pressure on Veritas to stay ahead of the pack by offering a richer product justifying its higher price, according to analysts. The company must also manage a delicate balance with its partners, some of whom are also competitors, as it continues to open its software to as many platforms as possible.
A further step in this direction will come this week when Veritas is set to announce that its suite of storage management software will now run on IBM's AIX operating system, joining Sun's Solaris, Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX and Microsoft's Windows. The full suite of software should also be ready for Linux this year, Bregman said.
Along with this announcement, Veritas said its Database Edition/HA, Cluster Server, Global Cluster Manager and Volume Replicator software products are now certified to work on PeopleSoft.'s PeopleSoft 8 applications. Veritas has also launched new partner programs designed to help ensure that its software works with hardware from other storage vendors as well as networking companies such as Cisco Systems.
Partnerships like these should help Veritas retain its position as a vendor-neutral software supplier and build out its portfolio into new areas, Bregman said.
"Our customers need to have a supplier whose software will support storage arrays and things like switches from many vendors," he said. "As the technology changes from direct attached storage to storage area networks and iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface), they will need the flexibility we can provide."
This strategy could help Veritas maintain its position as a leading storage software company even as it faces heavy competition, said one analyst.
"There's definitely a move by guys like Sun and Microsoft to add storage management functions into things that look like operating systems," said John Webster, senior analyst and founder of the Data Mobility. "Still, there is only so far an OS vendor wants to go with trying to take storage business away from its partners with tweaks to the operating system. I think there is always room to add value in the software market, no matter what the OS guys do."
Sun executives have said the new Solaris 9 operating system, which is due out by mid-year, will add new file system and management technologies that will make the storage capabilities in Solaris stack up well against Veritas. Microsoft has also indicated plans to add new file system and management tools in future releases of Windows. The developments could potentially allow both Microsoft and Sun to undercut Veritas on pricing for some applications, Webster said.