Veritas climbs the SAN ladder

Veritas Software Corp. says the latest version of its storage management program is the first to offer what the high-level viewpoint customers want with storage area networks (SANs) and direct-attached storage (DAS).

The Mountain View, Calif.-based software vendor recently unveiled SANPoint Control v3.5, the most recent iteration of its SAN and DAS environment manager. On the heels of v3.0 released earlier this year, the new rendition raises the bar in storage management, said Fred Dimson, general manager of Veritas Software Canada in Thornhill, Ont.

“It offers an application-down view. If someone’s running an Exchange environment or an Oracle environment, we can actually see the application and discover from there on below.…We’re the only ones at the application level.”

Dimson said this vantage gives Veritas users greater insight into how problems affect particular applications.

“It could be as simple as something like you’ve run out of table space on a database. It sounds simple, but if it’s in a key database, you need to be able to react to it.”

Veritas punched up the automation features in this version with improved back-end scripting, so customers can teach SANPoint to react certain ways to certain scenarios. Dimson said the product now supports Pearl and shell-type scripting, so users can enlighten the machinery in whatever language they choose.

Dimson said the latest SANPoint is part and parcel of Veritas’s “adaptive software architecture,” whereby the company collects APIs from server and switch makers in an attempt to bridge communication between vendors.

“It’s the ability to wrap it all together and make it homogeneous to a client, as opposed to all these little pieces and vendors. It’s kind of the glue piece, and it’s becoming more of a de facto standard out there in the organizations.”

Warren Shiau, software analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said Veritas’s role as peacemaker amongst battling box builders may be the company’s best hope for success.

“For a software vendor, this is probably the direction they have to take. The hardware vendors have their own software developments and they could move into the same space as Veritas. The only thing keeping them from doing that is they want to establish de facto standards themselves. This is a sort of preemptive attack by Veritas to try, in their own way, to set the standard.”

Charles Cleland, manager of IT server network support with Bruce Power in Tiverton, Ont., said Veritas’s neutral stance made it that much more attractive to his company. Bruce Power, which operates nuclear power stations, purchased a variety of Veritas software, including NetBackup, Cluster Server and SANPoint.

“When we looked at products that could do heterogeneous environments such as ours, NetBackup had what we felt to be the brightest future, to be able to do what we wanted to do. Once we started heading down that road and we started looking at server consolidation and SAN technology, the Veritas suite fit our need.”

Cleland said Bruce Power purchased an earlier version of SANPoint, not v3.5, and has yet to install the software. Still, the company would consider Veritas’s latest if it passed his firm’s testing procedures.

“If all of what they say is true and it meets our requirements, we would upgrade.”

As for Veritas’s drive to become the software standard in SAN management, Cleland was skeptical.

“The software, it just fit with where we wanted to go,” he said. “I’m sure other companies will do many other things, so I doubt they’ll become de facto, to be quite honest.”