Symantec offers ‘Storage United’ strategy

LAS VEGAS – Symantec Corp. is beefing up efforts to increase its visibility in the infrastructure management space with none other than its chief executive emphasizing that despite its prominence in the IT security space, Symantec is more than just a security company.

Kicking off its Vision 2007 conference in this city, Symantec CEO John Thompson highlighted his company’s efforts towards “the other S” of Symantec’s business – its storage business – highlighting a cross-platform storage management initiative called “Storage United.”

The exponential growth in digital information across the enterprise is impacting the way organizations are investing in storage solutions, said Thompson.

“Many (organizations) don’t have an idea of how much storage capacity or utilization they have in their environment,” he said, adding that industry average for storage utilization in the enterprise is between 30 per cent and 35 per cent.

This low utilization average has resulted in inefficient storage management, data duplication issues and unnecessary investments on storage technology. Because IT managers often lack the resources to determine how much storage capacity they have, the tendency is to buy more storage hardware, explained Thompson.

Symantec’s Storage United initiative aims to provide technology that allows organizations to get a better understanding of their storage environment and make better purchasing decisions, the Symantec executive said.

Storage United also aims to address cross-platform issues associated with storage. Organizations typically run different operating systems that have their own management tools, increasing complexity for IT administrators. Symantec aims to provide organizations with a consistent view of the state of their storage capacity regardless of operating systems and platforms, Thompson added.

In line with this initiative, Thompson announced the latest version of Symantec’s storage management platform, Veritas NetBackup 6.5. For the first time, he said, Veritas NetBackup offers a single platform to manage all types of storage media and data protection tools, including tape, virtual tape libraries, disk backup, data de-duplication, continuous data protection, snapshots and replication.

Net Backup 6.5 also uses features from VMWare’s Consolidated Backup technology as part of an overall backup framework for virtual environments, Brian Byun, VMWare vice-president of global partners and solutions, said in a statement.

Systems and storage management are two of the “biggest oxymorons in IT management,” said Mike Vizard, editorial director at Ziff Davis Enterprise, which publishes a number of IT magazines including PC Magazine and CIO Insight.

“We use our skills to automate everything but the single biggest cost [in the enterprise] is labour,” said Vizard, who spoke following Thompson’s keynote at the conference.

One of the issues that many companies face today is that they’re spending huge amounts of money on labour and operational management that there’s usually not enough left to invest in new technologies, explained Vizard, adding that only five per cent of IT’s budget are spent on purchasing new technologies.

He said companies should focus on technology solutions to IT management problems. “The industry as a whole needs a holistic approach; we’ve met the enemy and the enemy is us.”

Security management is also another area where costs tend to go higher, said the Ziff Davis executive.

“There’s no operational security model so the cost goes high,” he said.

Thompson agreed that a critical first step to managing risk in the enterprise is to “operationalize” security by turning it into a standard business process.

“Security today needs to be policy-driven that’s why we focus on technology to help automate policies,” said Thompson. Symantec is expected to announce tomorrow its newest enterprise security product, Symantec Endpoint Protection v 11.0, which combines all of Symantec’s endpoint security solutions including firewall, antivirus, anti-spyware, intrusion prevention, as well as application and device control systems into a single deployment and management platform.

The product also ships pre-set with network access control (NAC), which can be turned on as a customer license option.

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