Veritas Wares aim for easier management

Symantec is keeping the Veritas name for its line of data centre management products, much as it has with its Norton line of Internet security tools, and is building what it calls its data centre foundation on four product areas: Veritas NetBackup, Veritas Storage Foundation, Veritas Server Foundation and Veritas Application Performance Management (APM).

During a media tour of the Veritas data centre technology lab in Mountain View, Calif., company executives said they’re not setting out to compete with products like HP’s OpenView or IBM’s Tivoli, which provide a window into a company’s IT infrastructure. Rather, Symantec is concerned about what the IT manager sees through that window.

With its Veritas products, Symantec is aiming to provide standardized infrastructure management layers. By standardizing with one management application per infrastructure, whether it be Unix or Sun, the aim is to reduce management.

Storage is one area where Symantec sees an increasing need for management tools. Sean Derrington, Symantec’s director of storage management, said companies are increasingly investing in storage to house ever more business-critical data, but IT is challenged around visibility and automation. To meet those challenges, Derrington said, it’s important to look at management at the infrastructure layer level. Taking a per-OS or per-controller approach could involve 100 point tools that only work in each environment, said Derrington.

On the backup side, Michael Adams, manager of NetBackup product marketing with Symantec, said the company is seeing strong growth in disk space backup as companies increasingly look at how they can use disk in their backup regimes, adding that this is an area where Symantec is investing heavily. “Tape is not going away tomorrow, but we think people will be looking increasingly to disk,” he said.

When version 6.5 of NetBackup is released in the second quarter of this year, Adams said enhancements will include advanced disk staging and storage lifecycle policies, media server capacity management and load balancing, spanning images across disk storage units and shared disk space between multiple media servers.

With compliance concerns ever present, the encryption of backup data is increasingly important too, and to address that need last month Symantec launched an encryption feature for NetBackup that takes the CPU-intensive load off application servers and places the burden onto the backup server.

The new NetBackup Media Server Encryption Option offers 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption, allowing users to stage data to a secondary disk storage array, such as a virtual tape library, or to transfer the encrypted data directly to magnetic tape. Encryption keys can be managed through a central database.

Jon Olstik, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, in Milford, Mass., said the client encryption was notoriously slow and put the encryption processing burden on the clients.

“In this new model, the client sends data to the server in clear text and the server then encrypts everything,” said Olstik, adding that latency from the encryption process’ usage of CPU cycles should be minimal since all encryption overhead is performed on the backup server.

With a number of encryption products on the market, both hardware- and software-based, the right technology for any particular user will depend heavily on their legacy and heterogeneous systems, Olstik said. “You have to upgrade Symantec NetBackup to get the new encryption features and you may not want to do this,” he said.

In the server foundation and application performance management spaces, Symantec is focusing on tools to automate tasks like patch management. A recently released Patch Manager tool draws on a Symantec-managed 10,000 patch database, and helps IT managers understand the interactions of their applications and the implications of installing a patch before they pull the trigger.

“We try to take out that guesswork,” said Rob Greer, director of produce marketing, APM with Symantec.

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