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Hello, and welcome to another edition of Voices. I’m Joaquim Menezes, Web Editor of IT World Canada, and our “Voice” today is Don Kleinschnitz, vice-president, infrastructure management solutions at Symantec Corp. Don joined Symantec as part of the acquisition of storage-management vendor PowerQuest Corp. where he was the chief technology officer. At Symantec Don and his team have been the brains behind LiveState family of products, in particular LiveState Recovery Suite 6.0 a volume-based, hardware independent restoration technology suite announced by Symantec this week. Today Don tells us more about this new technology, which he says dramatically simplifies, speeds up, and essentially solves the data recovery problem.
Don, tell us about the relationship between the LiveState Platform and the various technologies that have become part of the Symantec stack by acquisition – PowerQuest, Ghost Technology, OnTechnology, PC Anywhere and so on.
LiveState was the combination of all these. We took PC Anywhere, Ghost Technology, PowerQuest technology…and all those technologies now exist in one form or another underneath the LiveState platform.
How do you distinguish between the LiveState Platform and LiveState Recovery 6.0 which Symantec announced on Tuesday?
The LiveState Platform is a server, if you will, that contains a number of infrastructure components like PXE (pre-boot execution environment) multicasting, a database, user interface and so forth. We decided we needed to build a Windows-based platform to manage Windows servers and desktops and laptops – and eventually mobile – that was very modular in application. We were already the leader in imaging (as we combined PowerQuest and Ghost in Symantec), the leader in remote control, and PowerQuest had just developed some leading edge recovery technology that has come to fruition as the recovery application of LiveState. So LiveState Recovery is the recovery app. But we also have LiveState Design, LiveState Delivery, and LiveState Patch Manager. So everything you needed to manage a desktop, a server or a laptop exists on this platform. Today we were just focusing on the server release of LiveState Recovery 6.0. About three months ago we announced LiveState Recovery Client Management Suite, which was this other suite of products that’s part of LiveState for managing these environments.
Is Live State currently available on Windows only?
We have some capabilities on Unix. But it’s a bit spotty. Our main focus is on Windows.
Are there plans to have LiveState available for a more heterogeneous environments?
It’s always on our roadmap, but we find that the Windows space right now is so rich, and has such an opportunity to bring some improved management that we have the tendency to spend most of our time there. But we do have some Linux capability in it, and it’s on the roadmap as our next step. One of the basic premises of LiveState is simple installation and use. We have had an opportunity to re-engineer this part of the environment and we really focused on making [it] so you don’t have to have a PhD to manage these. And I think what you saw was a good example of how simple we can make complicated problems.
I understand there’s a consumer version of LiveState Recovery technology?
The LiveState Recovery technology actually ships in consumer under the Ghost 10 brand. So if you like to use it for your own system you can get it.
What would be the difference between the consumer and enterprise versions of this technology…in terms of capabilities?
Actually there’s very little difference. We purposely have built one engine and one technology. And the theory was we could use the consumer space to help us understand how to make products simple. Because home users are not skilled as IT people. But at the same time we could use the enterprise kind of features and take it into the home, because more and more homes have every bit as much of a Disaster Recovery and/or backup problem as anyone else. Symantec has these two huge channels. So we tend to get the usability and bring it into the enterprise and take the technology into the consumer. And what you’ll see for example is at any point in time – for example Ghost 10, is actually user interface that is currently shipped on the desktop, and the next version of the desktop it will be just like Ghost 10. So the answer is we keep them pretty much equal.
One of the things Symantec emphasizes about LiveState Server 6.0 is that it is hardware infrastructure agnostic. Why is this important?
This is a very important point…because a good DR architecture cannot depend on the infrastructure to do a recovery. Because the infrastructure may not exist. That’s number one. Number two was: you had this dependence on being matched to a specific kind of hardware. We’ve just solved that problem. So that’s no longer an issue. So as long as you have a recovery point for your environment sitting somewhere that’s accessible, we can start rebuilding the whole environment from scratch quite easily. Build LiveState Manager, have LS manager pushing out to any server, any desktop you want…If you want you can rebuild the same look.
Could a user with no significant IT training use LiveState to recover their systems?
Absolutely. Like I said we’ve had grandmothers doing it. In the Ghost 10 product – to give you an example – you plug in your USB hard drive and it automatically knows enough to do a backup. You don’t have to do anything. And it also interfaces with a MaxtorOne touch. If you push the Maxor OneTouch button it will automatically invoke Norton Ghost 10 or “LiveState” to do your backup. So we’ve put a lot of usability in there for users who don’t understand the environment.
In your view what are the principal benefits of the new LiveState release to IT administrators and end users?
I think the main value proposition is: there have been some unsolved problems in disaster recovery (DR) that cause people to either spend a huge amount of personal time or equipment time, or flatout prevented them from having good DR. Like I said, if you have 10 servers that are of a specific type, and you back them up with today’s technology, six months from now if you lose [data on] all those servers and you cannot find those exact servers you’ve wasted your time, you’re not going to recover – that’s the dirty little secret. You’ll have to go back. Bring all the CDs out; build all the machines and recover the data over the top. So the best case you’re talking about is a multi-day, week, month process. I get a chance to actually see these things. And I’ve seen a backup company take a month to get their data centre back. This is a company that sells backup software. And if you think of the process…You’ve got to find the tape, get the tape there, reinstall the OS, reinstall the applications, get the configuration set where it wants to be, get all the correct security parameters put in place, get it back on the network, put your data back on the top…And if that data isn’t in sync with what you were doing before or the environment you just installed then you’ll have to troubleshoot that and days later you’ll probably have it back to where you were.
Right, so how then does LiveState 6.0 provide the antidote to all this? How does is speed up, simplify and streamline the recovery process?<