Veritas taps utility computing model

NEW YORK – Veritas Software Corp. is introducing new applications designed to make utility computing a reality in the enterprise, but one industry analyst wonders if the message will resonate with businesses.

“The majority are still coming to grips with what the term (utility computing) really means,” said Phil Sargeant, research director, servers and storage at Gartner Inc. “This probably doesn’t clarify anything for them.”

Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas earlier this month unveiled new backup and recovery software, as well as novel applications to make data management simpler. At a product launch here, the company announced the availability of CommandCentral Service 3.5, which presents backup and recovery technology as a service to business units.

IT managers could use CommandCentral to create service level agreements with business lines for backup and recovery, and even charge the cost of backup and recovery service to departments – known as “chargeback.”

CommandCentral replaces Veritas’s Service Manager and starts at US$22,000.

Veritas said this software fosters a new relationship between business and IT, whereby departments tap high-tech resources as they would tap power from a station.

“This is the next step on our journey toward utility computing,” said Gary Bloom, Veritas’s CEO.

But Gartner’s Sargeant wondered if companies would embrace that message. He said most businesses do not understand utility computing. That could make life difficult for Veritas’s sales force.

Sargeant said vendors send out confusing signals about utility computing. It’s as if each gear maker has a unique definition. IBM Corp., for example, presents itself as a utility, offering computing resources to customers via its “On Demand” strategy. Hewlett-Packard Co. has pay-as-you-go pricing on servers and disk arrays. Veritas, meanwhile, “wants to be providers of components to create utility,” Sargeant said.

Fred Dimson, general manager and director of operations at Veritas Software (Canada), agreed that the enterprise is “being hit with a lot of messages.” Still, he figures Veritas’s utility computing platform will resonate with clients.

Veritas applications work across myriad hardware platforms. Plenty of companies seek such a heterogeneous solution, Dimson said. “The other vendors…can’t do the heterogeneous layers.”

Alan Freedman, an analyst at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said utility computing must live up to customer expectations. “If it’s going to help them lower their costs, they’re going to do it.” Otherwise the enterprise might discount utility computing as a “nebulous” idea.

Utility computing is becoming concrete at Qualcomm Inc. According to CIO Norm Tjeldheim, the San Diego-based wireless handset manufacturer must rethink its backup and recovery method. Today, the firm’s business units don’t understand how backups affect IT. They’re time-consuming. They’re expensive. And it’s difficult for Qualcomm’s high-tech contingent to source funds for the service. Tjeldheim said executives pose tough questions as costs increase, such as, what are you going to do to solve this problem?

If Qualcomm employed a chargeback mechanism, IT could push the backup bill onto departments. Perhaps business managers would then stop “making decisions that…drive costs up in IT,” Tjeldheim said.

He said Qualcomm anticipates using NetBackup 5.0, the latest version of Veritas’s enterprise backup and recovery system. Announced alongside CommandCentral, Veritas claimed this recent iteration backs up data 78 per cent quicker than did its predecessor, NetBackup 4.5, and it’s nearly 40 per cent quicker on recovery.

That’s important at Qualcomm. Speed is key.

“We’re running out of night-time,” Tjeldheim said, adding that the firm’s databases grow 30 per cent annually. “Backups are spilling over into the day and…affecting our production environment.”

Veritas said NetBackup 5.0 offers more than enhanced speed. It includes a “Desktop and Laptop Option” (DLO), which links end-user computers to the enterprise backup and recovery solution.

“That’s been a big deal,” Tjeldheim said. “So much critical information is really out on the desktop or the laptop.

“About two years ago our CEO had his laptop stolen. Not only did he have all his company information on that laptop; he had all his personal information, including all his bank account information, everything. It was stolen on Saturday. Because we backed that up, Monday morning when he came back to work, we had a new computer waiting for him, fully restored and ready to go….It really drove home the need for this kind of technology.”

DLO replaces NetBackup Pro. The earlier product provided similar functionality, but lacked the “synchronization” feature, which automatically sends copies of files to other computers in the enterprise.

DLO on NetBackup starts at US$2,500.

The new NetBackup also offers a “synthetic backup” feature that spells quick recovery times. Users don’t have to conduct full restores to resurrect systems.

NetBackup 5.0 pricing starts at US$5,000. It will be available in December.

Veritas also announced Data Lifecycle Manager 5.0 (DLM), which helps users find stored data, whether it’s tape-archived info, or e-mails buried in the SAN. Meant to replace Veritas’s Storage Migrator, DLM moves data through the storage system according to customer-defined policies, so that older, generally less-important information doesn’t take up space on expensive media.

Veritas presents DLM as a way for the enterprise to mind government regulations. For instance, said Jose Iglesias, vice-president, product management for Veritas, the Canadian government expects doctors to maintain patient records for seven years. DLM could make it easier for medical professionals to store and retrieve that information.

DLM will be priced at US$30 per user when it hits the street in early 2004.

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