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Symantec confirms "some downsizing" in Utah --*Updated*

My SearchITChannel colleague Barb Darrow blogged this morning that her sources are saying Symantec is preparing to lay off a significant chunk of its sales force.

In the meantime, sources in the enterprise storage industry also say Symantec is laying off more engineers that have been working on its storage software products, on the heels of a reported layoff of Veritas file system engineers that surfaced about two weeks ago.

Sources close to Symantec say the company is laying off employees from an office in Lindon, Utah, affecting developers reportedly working on Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) and Enterprise Vault.

As with the Veritas file system division, sources indicate much of the work is to be outsourced to India, although one source indicated some of the BESR engineers will be transferred to the Heathrow, Florida office where developers of the core Backup Exec backup software product work.

Update: After this post was originally published, a Symantec spokesperson contacted Storage Soup, confirming there has been downsizing at the Utah facility, but correcting earlier reports that the Lindon office is to be shut down completely. “We are definitely NOT closing down the Lindon facility,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “We are minimizing our footprint but will continue to maintain our presence in Lindon.  That process includes elements such as moving functions to other facilities and also giving employees in the Lindon area the flexibility to work from home.  There will also be some downsizing, but we are not disclosing any specific numbers. ”

Symantec has discussed consolidation of Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery, which share some feature overlap as well as a brand name. While Backup Exec does not perform bare-metal restore of operating system and application objects and settings for physical servers, it can offer similar capabilities for virtual machines as of version 12.5. Meanwhile, as of version 8.5, BESR offered agents that could be used for a Granular Restore Option to restore individual files from Exchange or SharePoint server images, which mirrors what Symantec calls Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) in Backup Exec and NetBackup.

BESR 2010, released in November, added support for Linux and deeper integration with Symantec’s Management Platform, based on its acquisition of Altiris. At the time of that announcement, execs said integration between BESR and the core Backup Exec product remains on the roadmap for the two products, but declined to give a time frame. BESR is positioned for the smallest of SMBs, while Backup Exec is positioned for SMB Windows shops.

Symantec reported Jan. 27 that it saw an 8% decline in storage sales for its fiscal third quarter (December 2009) as compared with the same quarter a year earlier, although the $594 million in revenue generated by the Storage and Server Management group represented an increase of 6% sequentially.

The last time Symantec disclosed significant layoffs was in 2007, the result of streamlining the company after integrating Veritas. At the time, then-CEO John Thompson addressed rumors that Symantec was preparing to spin off the Veritas storage business on an earnings conference call.

Similar speculation is floating again with these latest reports of layoffs at the company, but our source doesn’t see things playing out that way. “I don’t think [Symantec is] moving away from storage,” the source said. “Just lots of continued [cost] trimming around the edges and more aggressive off-shoring.”

Symantec declined to comment on “industry rumors and speculation” when the reports about Veritas file system engineers surfaced two weeks ago. So far, the company’s reps have yet to return my requests for comment today.

Update: Shortly after this post went live, a Symantec spokesperson directed me to a statement issued on the Symantec website emphasizing the company’s committment to the storage space (but not refuting reports of layoffs) —

The purpose of this communication is to address erroneous speculation that Symantec is leaving the storage space or somehow de-emphasizing the importance of our Storage and Availability Management (SAMG) portfolio for our valued customers. The bottom line is — Symantec is not exiting this space, and we remain committed to helping our customers who face significant challenges in managing storage growth and ensuring the availability of their critical information.

Symantec is 100 percent committed to our SAMG product portfolio. None of the SAMG products that we offer today are being discontinued. We are continuing to invest significant engineering resources in our core Storage Foundation and High Availability (SFHA) and Storage Management solutions. Some of the core areas where we are increasing investment are around Cluster File System, Dynamic Multi-Pathing, and value-added integration with VMware environments.

Across the SAMG product portfolio, we are making significant progress in improving quality and customer experience. In addition, we are continuing to innovate with new products and technology capabilities. One example is the recent announcement of our FileStore solution, which is built on our proven SFHA technology and incorporates technologies from our security and data protection portfolio. Another example is our recently announced Data Insight technology, which will be released shortly within our Data Loss Prevention solution.

Meanwhile, I also came across a local news story about Symantec buildings in Lindon, Utah being evacuated today “after employees reported finding a threatening note.” That news story makes no connection to any layoffs, however, and says the motives for the threat remain unknown.

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