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Symantec quietly snaps up Revivio's CDP assets

Beth Pariseau
Symantec Corp. has picked up continuous data protection (CDP) startup Revivio Inc. -- or, rather, Revivio's intellectual property -- after weeks of buzz in the industry.

The deal for Revivio's IP was finalized Nov. 20, according to Symantec spokeswoman Linda Smith Munyan; she said it was Symantec policy with acquisitions based on IP not to release a formal announcement. The majority of Revivio's staff has been laid off, and it appears the company is closing its doors, although it would neither confirm nor deny this.

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Symantec acquired all of Revivio's intellectual property, including patents, and has made employment offers to the "core engineering team" of Revivio, Munyan said. Symantec will be launching a CDP and replication offering that will be integrated with NetBackup, as well as sold as a standalone product, Munyan said, but did not specify a time frame.

"It's great for their customers that Symantec is acquiring this technology rather than spending three years in development reinventing the wheel," said Curtis Preston, vice president of data protection for GlassHouse Technologies, Inc.

Last of a dying breed?

Revivio was founded in October 2001; between then and this past spring, the company raised more than $55 million in venture capital investment. The company's continuous protection system (CPS) product was one of the first "true" CDP products -- defined as a product that copies every block and can recover to seconds or nanoseconds before a failure.

But, "Revivio kind of missed the boat," said Arun Taneja, founder and analyst with the Taneja Group. The company hadn't focused on OEMs like its rivals, Taneja said, and had committed "marketing blunders."

"They didn't present it as a solution -- they were selling technology, and it wasn't clear to customers what to do with it," Taneja said. "I've never heard of more than a handful of customers for them -- their VC community was getting up in arms."

Symantec did not disclose financial details of the deal, but analysts predicted the amount paid for Revivio's IP was probably low. One industry expert who asked not to be named said it had probably been a "fire sale."

Revivio certainly hasn't been alone in having trouble getting traction; while hype around continuous data protection has increased over the last year, confusion on the part of end users about where and how to use the technology has risen as well, according to discussions at the recent Storage World conference.

Users found the prospect of using CDP to back up every single block of data over an entire environment particularly unappetizing. Dealing with storage growth in conventional backup systems is enough of a struggle as it is, they said.

The long-term future: CDP becomes part of backup 'spectrum'

Even as adoption of CDP as a standalone product has stalled, the big vendors are snapping up its pioneers like hotcakes: EMC Corp. acquired heterogeneous replication and CDP startup Kashya Inc. in May; CA Inc. acquired Windows replication and CDP startup XOsoft Inc. in June; and Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) acquired CDP and heterogeneous replication startup Topio two weeks ago. Now Symantec is weaving CDP into NetBackup.

"The issue with CDP adoption so far is that vendors haven't put it in context," Taneja said. "What the larger players are doing is putting it in place along a continuum of backup and recovery options."

Over the next few years, Taneja said, companies like Symantec will be bringing together unified consoles for data protection management rather than offering different approaches to backup. Under these consoles, Taneja said, users would set service levels for applications, and the product itself would pick a backup technology based on the user's policies, whether CDP, disk as disk, virtual tape library (VTL), "or whatever the acronym of the month is that's best for the problem," Taneja said.

"At some point in the not so distant future, I'm sure we will [hear] of some new acronym to describe the convergence of backup, CDP, replication/mirroring and snapshot management," said Greg Schulz, founder and analyst with the StorageIO Group. "It makes sense for the technologies to be able to work together as a combined solution."

Meanwhile, backup expert Preston said he isn't convinced that every backup method will ultimately converge under one umbrella, but he said he agreed that CDP and backup are meant to be used in combination.

"Any enterprise level backup product at this point needs CDP as part of its feature set," Preston said. "And I don't think CDP is ever going to be the way to go for every single application."

Related Topics: Storage vendors, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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