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Symantec got my juices going

There are few announcements by major storage vendors that really get my juices flowing, and the ones that reveal major new industry or products trends are the ones I find the most thought provoking.

Symantec’s recent NetBackup 6.5 announcement in mid-June at Symantec Visions was exactly that type of announcement. What especially piqued my interest was this slide, which was part of the press kit that they sent me that illustrated how they plan to architect NetBackup going forward.

While NetBackup obviously will do enterprise backup and restores for a very long time to come, what NetBackup lacked prior to this announcement was any overarching reason for users to get excited about the future of this product. “NetBackup can do SAN backups” or “NetBackup supports PureDisk”  didn’t cut it anymore. These were just product announcements in response to larger consumer trends that Symantec needed to provide in order to remain competitive in the backup software space.

But this announcement is a plan of attack that, if Symantec can execute on, will give them a leg up on most other storage software vendors in the enterprise data protection space. The idea that a company can use one tool to centrally manage the functionality of multiple other vendor’s data protection products is one that companies sorely need, whether they realize it or not.

Positioning NetBackup, a product most enterprises already use in some capacity, in this role allows storage architects to build an enterprise data protection strategy around it. Enterprise companies have too many products coming in from too many sources for storage architects to get into the details and politics of whether an application should use Symantec’s NetBackup or BakBone Software’s NetVault:Backup agent for Oracle. If one product is a better fit for an application than another and the company can centrally manage either one, who cares?

This does not mean by any stretch that companies should now mark off enterprise data protection as solved. The challenge of managing every vendor’s data protection product is akin to what SRM vendors promised just a few years ago. Buy our product and we will manage all of your storage devices. We all are still waiting for that to happen.

Symantec’s challenge is no less daunting. Trying to manage every vendor’s replication, snapshot, CDP, VTL and tape backup product from NetBackup’s central console presents the same challenge. Then, toss in the fact that to do so will likely require some level of cooperation from their competitors. Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

Symantec has the right idea, and even good intentions, as to where to take NetBackup so that it will provide the most value for their customers. But, the road that lays before them is rocky and one that, when traveled before by the SRM folks, has yet to deliver on its promise. It will be interesting to see whether Symantec’s journey proves to be more productive.

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HVE COnneXions solves this problem
That people are led to believe that a storage array is something magically and mythically different in function than a plain old physical or virtual server, to justify to people why they should continue to reinvest in the 'magic software' each time they buy a new array. The fact is they're the exact some thing in architecture and function; they each have CPU, RAM, and I/O channels to move the data around. The actual greater importance on the storage array is that the business' data is actually resident on the array, whereas with a server or network (ethernet / FC) switch it's transient. After all, the biggest of the storage vendors even says "where information lives", so with that, why wouldn't one want to provide the same level of protection and redundancy to not simply 'the storage' but more importantly THE DATA, by providing true redundancy through 100% physical diversity. Buying into the advertisement that an array is 100% redundant is a false fact. There is no array on the market that is that, by the mere fact that YOUR DATA IS IN ONE PLACE!! That's exactly the opposite model of what has been adopted in the rest of the data center, whether with today's craze of server 'hypervisors', or the previous generation of HACMP, MC/Service Guard, Sun Cluster, etc, the model was always two or more physically diverse resources. The same is true for the 'gooey middle' of switching, two or more, even when those devices are '100% redundant' inside the box. Buying into the false fact that a storage array (falsely labeled "a SAN" all too often) is 100% redundant dooms a business for going out of business somewhere down the road.