Veritas to support Linux server clustering

Veritas Software Corp. has announced new applications to allow storage administrators to cluster their Linux servers and create Linux-based network-attached storage (NAS). Veritas said it has also reached service agreements with IBM Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. to support the new applications.

Additionally, the Mountain View, Calif.-based storage software vendor said at a press conference here yesterday that it will be coming out with Linux management software to support IBM zSeries mainframes and Oracle9i databases by the second quarter of 2003.

IBM said it has certified the new storage management platform on its eServer xSeries, and Dell said it has certified its PowerEdge servers on the new Veritas software.

Mark Bregman, Veritas’ executive vice president of product operations, said the company’s continued expansion into the Linux space comes at the request of customers champing at the bit for more tools to feed their growing Linux-based server farms.

“One of the reasons I’m so excited about today’s announcement is that I can now hook my Linux boxes directly to my SAN [storage-area network],” said Bill Watson, manager of systems administration for The Weather Channel in Atlanta.

The Weather Channel, which maintains a 20TB SAN in support of text and video content, is incrementally moving from Sun Solaris servers to Intel servers running on Linux “to reduce the total cost of ownership,” Watson said.

Veritas said its new Cluster Server software can lower the cost of ownership by allowing commodity Intel servers to be clustered with policy-based provisioning and load balancing. Veritas said its ServPoint NAS software also transforms servers into NAS file servers that can be administered by workers already trained on Unix servers from Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. or IBM.

“That’s why it’s distinct from a [Network Appliance] or an EMC filer, where you pick a model number and get certain configurations,” Bregman said. “In our case, it’s more analogous with what Microsoft did with its [Server Appliance Kit], where they provided a kit and then people configured it the way they wanted to.”

“We see the ROI coming in two different places: the initial cost of hardware, and then the support contracts. Our support contract with Sun right now is almost half a million dollars a year. If I can wipe it out and go to $50,000 [a year for service support] on an Intel platform, that’s where I’m going,” Watson said.

Walt Nelson, senior manager of corporate systems at Seattle-based Inc., said he likes Veritas’ move into the Linux space because his company replaced “several hundred” Unix servers last year and is seeking more cost-effective and efficient management tools.

Nelson said a large part of the US$17 million in year-over-year savings saw in hardware and software costs between 2000 and 2001 were directly related to the Linux migration.

“I’m most interested in the NAS and the SAN storage management aspect,” Nelson said. “That’s definitely an area that, in the Linux space, is a challenge today. While Linux is great in the application and Web serving environment, the ability to have centralized storage that’s reliable, available and has high performance is difficult in the Linux space right now.”

Veritas first entered the Linux space two years ago with the introduction of its NetBackup software for backing up Web and e-mail servers to tape devices. Most recently, the company added Linux support to its Foundation Suite storage resource management software, allowing Linux application servers to be backed up.

But Veritas said its large Wall Street customers have steadily been deploying Linux in data centers, calling for ever more sophisticated database platforms.

Rich Michos, vice president of IBM’s xSeries server group, said 11 per cent of revenue last year came from mainframe installations running Linux.

And, according to Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., the Linux server market is expected to grow from $2.5 billion today to $15 billion in 2007.

Stephen Elliot, an analyst at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass., said Veritas’ inclusion of Linux will boost customer adoption of the open platform among enterprises, but it isn’t likely to generate any revenue for Veritas in the near term.

“It’s going to take time for that space to build,” he said.