Veritas upgrades backup software, looks to diversify

Veritas Software Corp. this week upgraded its flagship data backup technology. But Veritas, the second-largest vendor of storage management tools, is also embarking on an acquisition-fueled strategy to expand into other IT management technologies.

The plan to augment products such as its NetBackup software with new server and application management tools is aimed at helping Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas compete against more diversified rivals such as EMC Corp., Computer Associates International Inc. and IBM Corp.

Veritas officials said their goals are to offer IT administrators a bundled suite of management tools and increase the company’s annual revenue from US$1.5 billion to $5 billion over the next three years.

To some users, the plan makes a lot of sense. For example, Tom Guthrie, vice president of technology operations at Atlanta-based Cox Communications Inc., said there’s definite value in the direction Veritas is taking.

“With all of our vendors, we’ve encouraged them to go up the value chain in areas they’re good at, and we’re happy to interact with them about that,” Guthrie said. He recently standardized backup operations on Cox’s 10TB storage-area network (SAN) by installing NetBackup.

Veritas has announced three acquisitions since November, adding products in areas such as server provisioning and application performance management.

Bill Augustadt, chief technology officer at BlueStar Solutions Inc., said the ability to pool server capacity to address application needs and then monitor performance on the fly should help the Cupertino, Calif.-based application outsourcing firm more efficiently control its services according to customer needs.

“Any automation we can do will allow us to scale across platforms with fewer people to manage them,” said Augustadt, who uses various Veritas products to handle data backups on a 160TB SAN.

Veritas’ big task this year is to “consolidate and integrate the companies we acquired,” said Jeremy Burton, the company’s chief marketing officer. “But I don’t think it will be technology that hinders us.” If problems do arise, they most likely will be related to sales execution issues, he noted.

Anders Lofgren, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc., predicted that other storage software vendors will adopt similar expansion plans. But, he added, “for Veritas to build credibility outside of the storage management space — that will take some time.”

In January, Veritas reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $49 million on revenue of $405 million. But the company said business was better than expected, and it reported a $57 million profit for 2002 as a whole, compared with a net loss of $643 million for 2001.

NetBackup 4.5 includes a new feature called Instant Data Recovery, which lets users recover data directly from disk drives instead of from tape devices, Veritas said. The upgrade also streamlines the process of storing Microsoft Exchange e-mail attachments.