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Symantec question marks: email archiving SaaS and VMware competition

There are some potential inferences that can be made from two moves Symantec Corp. made last week: the acquisition of MessageLabs and the launch of Veritas Cluster Server One. However, for now clear answers as to whether or not those inferences are correct are not forthcoming.

MessageLabs is partnered with Fortiva to offer email archiving SaaS, so I wondered if the acquisition might mean that Symantec will get into that kind of offering as well. reported that MessageLabs CEO Adrian Chamberlain will be heading up a new SaaS group at Symantec, though Symantec officials also told SearchSecurity they won’t be SaaS-enabling all products. This remains an open question for now, as a Symantec spokesperson told me that product roadmaps will be decided after the acquisition closes, which might not happen until year end.

Symantec also launched VCS One, with the goal of allowing organizations to keep active farms of virtual servers running at a disaster recovery site, as well as recover tiered applications with dependencies intact.  “Right now, this process is dependent on a lot of tribal knowledge in the heads of individuals who know the right order and design scripts to run this kind of recovery,”  said Mark Lohmeyer, vice president and general manager of the VCS product group at Symantec.

If any of that sounds familiar, it might be beacause this past May, VMware and its storage partners launched VMware Site Recovery Manager,  allowing VMware’s VirtualCenter to execute commands against storage arrays at primary and secondary sites during recoveries and enable VirtualCenter-generated metadata about virtual machines to be replicated, along with system and application data. In part, SRM is designed to help server virtualization customers automate their disaster recovery checklists, which many of them keep on paper and check off manually.

Meanwhile, Symantec has been among the most outspoken of storage vendors about friction with the server virtualization giant, and at Vision this year took VMware rival Citrix XenServer under its wing and into its product line, claiming the resultant Veritas Virtual Infrastructure product will be a better approach than VMware’s Virtual Machine File System (VMFS)  for server virtualization in large environments.

However, Symantec positions VCS One as complementary to SRM, rather than competitive with it. A Symantec spokesperson emailed me the following statement when I asked about it late last week:

VCS One is a complementary solution for VMware environments that can help improve overall availability of the environment in production, for mission-critical apps, by taking an application-centric approach to HA/DR.  And, we work closely with VMware to integrate with, and leverage VMware technologies such as Vmotion (for reducing planned downtime) and DRS today, and we’re looking at how we can also integrate with SRM in the future.  Finally, our solution is ideal for heterogeneous physical and virtual environments, that includes VMware as well as other platforms (which is the case in virtually every data center).

It’s important to note, though, that VCS One only supports VMware virtual machines at present, which might make the kind of competitive statements made earlier this year a bit awkward at this stage. Lohmeyer says VCS One was under development before Xen came on the scene. “[Support for Xen] will be in our very next release,” he said. Once that happens, I wonder if Symantec’s messaging might change somewhat.

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