First stop for end-to-end storage

With budgets being squeezed, firms are looking to storage management solutions to cut costs. Peter Branton finds out what market...

With budgets being squeezed, firms are looking to storage management solutions to cut costs. Peter Branton finds out what market leader Veritas has to offer.

IT managers are facing a storage double whammy, having to meet capacity needs which, on average, double every year with budgets that are being cut or, at best, remaining static. As a result, they are increasingly looking at storage management software to help them make the most of their existing storage.

Analyst firm Gartner Dataquest believes storage software sales will rise from today's $4.9bn (£3.3bn) to hit $15bn by 2006. Its figures show that Veritas Software was the leading hardware-independent storage software provider in 2000. While rival EMC had a larger share of the market, with 30.4% compared to Veritas' 19.8%, this was largely due to its sales of array-based software. Excluding this segment, Veritas was the market leader.

With revenues of $1.5bn, Veritas has grown rapidly since its inception in 1989 to become one of the top 10 independent software companies in the world, employing more than 5,500 people in 25 countries. "Whenever companies look at buying storage management software, Veritas will almost certainly be on the list somewhere," says Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research.

The company attempts to distinguish itself from its competitors by offering "end-to-end" storage management software, covering back-up and recovery, volume and file management, storage area networks (Sans) and clustering and replication products.

Traditionally, Veritas' main strength has been in back-up and recovery technologies, and these still account for the largest segment of its revenues. Its flagship product is its long-established Netbackup software suite, which is arguably the industry leader both in terms of sales and functionality. UK users include BT, Nationwide and Orange.

This year Veritas has made a major enhancement to Netbackup, with version 4.5 incorporating a technology called Bare Metal Restore which allows users to recover data from failed or corrupted servers by reloading the server settings from a CD or other media instead of having to manually reconfigure them.

The company's other main revenue stream comes from its Foundation Suite, which comprises File System, a quick-recovery journaled file system, and its Volume Manager product. This group of products helps to underpin many of Veritas' other technologies, including clustering, failover, back-up and hierarchical storage management.

"From a functionality point of view, the Netbackup and File and Volume Manager products are among the best in the industry," says Lock. This view is supported by the number of suppliers that sell Veritas technology on top of their own offerings. For instance, EMC sells a feature-specific version of the Foundation Suite for its Symmetrix storage product. Other major OEMs include Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Sun and Hewlett-Packard.

On top of these core product areas, Veritas has developed a number of products for the data replication, clustering, application availability and virtualisation markets. The company has also pushed into the San market with its Sanpoint control product, which allows administrators to locate, view and manage devices attached to the San from a single console.

The success of the Veritas approach has won grudging acknowledgement from competitors. "Some people like to buy from one supplier, in which case they will buy from Veritas," says Nigel Williams, vice-president of software products EMEA at Legato. "However, others don't want to be locked in, preferring to buy best of breed."

Legato competes against Veritas principally in the back-up and recovery space with its Networker back-up and recovery product. Other rivals include Computer Associates, with its Arcserve product, and IBM, with Tivoli Storage Manager.
CA and IBM have the advantage of a background in systems management, says Lock, who argues that Veritas is not seen by the market as a major systems management player. "It has never really had a 'manager-of-managers' capability in the way that a CA or a Tivoli has," he says.

However, Veritas' main competitor is EMC, which is determined to increase software sales as a proportion of total revenue from 20% last year to 30% this year. And the competition is stiff. While detractors, including Veritas, dismiss EMC for locking customers into proprietary solutions, it is extending the reach of its Widesky storage resource management tool, allowing it to work with other suppliers' hardware.

According to Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis at EMC, EMC is well ahead of Veritas in several key storage areas, including data replication and resource management. "Despite its claims, Veritas has had little core success outside of its core competencies of back-up and file management," he says.

The result is that Veritas now has to convince users that its end-to-end strategy will still work as the storage market expands and customers demand more functionality.

The Veritas product universe
Veritas' key products include its flagship back-up and recovery products Netbackup and Back Exec, File System, and Volume Manager. All of these products are available on Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX 5.1, Windows NT/2000 and Red Hat Linux. Veritas has no products that cater for the mainframe environment.

Other product areas for Veritas are clustering, with its Cluster Server, and Global Cluster Manager, which allows users to build clusters of up to 32 homogeneous nodes. Veritas also has a number of replication tools, which allow users to make "point-in-time" copies of data.

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