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Thumbs down on Veritas merger

Thumbs down on Veritas merger

As we go to press, Veritas will merge with Symantec. Santa will leave executives of both companies millions in stock and bonuses under the tree. For you, it's more likely to be a lump of coal.

The current regime at Veritas has shown a spectacular lack of vision, and this is the result. Take the largest independent software company in storage, with an absolutely dominant position in data protection and several other sectors, add the biggest storage boom in history, throw in a dash of users clamoring for heterogeneous management and good things should happen. Instead, Veritas has stagnated in its core businesses and made unproductive acquisitions. What's gone wrong?

Veritas' management couldn't have read the opportunity any more wrongly. Hardware independence was the historic attraction of Veritas software, but the company failed to grasp the chance to quickly embrace standards and dominate the future. Instead, it let a nimble startup like AppIQ private label applications for most of the storage hardware companies.

Never before has there been such a crying need for a major software company to produce products that work on their own but can be assembled into a broader suite if so desired. No one makes storage management software that's widely liked, so the door is wide open. Veritas took few steps in that direction and they weren't open enough.

Veritas has tried to be the Microsoft of storage software by trying to make users buy its Foundation Suite to get the value of its other applications. Its answer to networked storage was a half-hearted attempt at network-izing Foundation Suite at unattractive prices. There's nothing wrong with Foundation Suite, but it's not for everyone. Veritas' management, trying to curry favor with Wall Street, saw salvation in becoming a systems management company. Backup became an embarrassment to Veritas, even though it pays most of the bills. No wonder IDC reports that they're losing market share to EMC/Legato.

There's only the mildest synergy for users in a Symantec/Veritas merger. Both companies dominate their respective markets, and a merger will be a one-year boost that won't solve the problem of what to become. Users are unlikely to get any benefit from the merger; the best you can hope for is that it won't bring more than the usual lack of focus while executives fight over who gets the corner office.

More troubling is that no major player is stepping up to the plate in storage management software except disk array companies. Newcomer Cisco apparently was interested in Veritas, but didn't pony up enough dough. IBM and HP are mesmerized by the idea that you'll want their storage software because you want their system or network management software--an idea with little foundation in reality. EMC has moved aggressively into this vacuum, and won some kudos (and brickbats) from customers.

Veritas has proved itself not to be the Microsoft of storage software, but the Novell. Perhaps a combined Symantec/Veritas can right itself and step up to the plate. Otherwise, the door is open for one of the new breed to go where Veritas couldn't.

Article 17 of 19

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