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Veritas outlines next NetBackup release

Veritas outlines BigHorn, the next major release of NetBackup, and has acquired Belgium storage software company DataCenter Technologies.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Not all the news from Veritas Software Inc. is happening here at the company's user show. A key, new development in Veritas' data protection strategy actually originates from a small town in Belgium, has learned.

Veritas has acquired Gent, Belgium-based DataCenter Technologies Inc. (DCT), a privately held maker of data reduction and capacity optimization software for disk-based backup. DCT also has offices in Foster City, Calif.

Veritas confirmed the acquisition but declined to go into detail. "Whether we buy technology or build it inhouse, it's all still our technology," said Jeremy Burton, executive vice president of the data management group at Veritas. Financial details were not available. DataCenter Technologies did not return calls for comment.

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Given the hush-hush nature of this acquisition, we can only speculate at this point on what Veritas might do with the technology. However, in Burton's keynote Tuesday, he outlined the road map for the next release of NetBackup, codenamed BigHorn [ hahaha], that offers some clues.

For remote office data protection, BigHorn will provide data compression, bandwidth optimization and block-level single instance storage. This means it will only send the blocks of data over the wire for backup that have changed and by storing only the incremental changes, will save considerably on storage capacity, the company claims.

Enter DCT with DC-Protect XA, software that is focused on archiving and backup of file data today from any client, anywhere on the network to any type of disk-based storage pool.

According to press material on DCT's Web site, the product uses a unique file fingerprint system to reduce backup time, network traffic and backup storage requirements. Archived data is stored as two separate components; metadata about each file is stored as a fingerprint in a database while the content of each file goes into a separate storage pool that could be DAS, NAS or SAN.

The fingerprint feature of DC Protect XA is its ability to back up only a changed segment of a file that is then sent in an optionally compressed and encrypted format across the network to the storage pool.

The original DC-Protect appliance product is currently used by around 70 corporate and government users, including Belgacom, the national telecommunications carrier of Belgium. Belgacom is using the technology to manage data generated by part of the 5.4 million customer accounts it handles.

DC-Protect XA, which is the software-only version, also provides a Web interface for administrators to define backup policies and for users to retrieve their own archived files.

Single instance storage is not a new idea. EMC Corp. has been offering this feature in its Centera disk-based archival product for several years. And Veritas actually has it in Backup Exec 10 for Windows Small Business Server to weed out duplicate attachments in Microsoft Exchange. The difference in BigHorn seems to be the block-level capability, which provides significantly more granular movement of data.

Rick Villars, senior analyst with International Data Corp., said it's an interesting technology but questioned the demand for it. "Disk is getting cheaper and cheaper so optimizing space might not be that necessary, except in archiving compliance data where you might have to store everything," he said. "It's not a stand-alone technology … it's likely to become another feature within storage management."

Other companies selling data reduction-type technologies include: Avamar Inc., Data Domain Inc. and Topio Inc.

Another new feature in BigHorn is codenamed Golden Spike, after the first transcontinental railway that was completed by driving a symbolic golden spike across the tracks in Utah in 1869. Golden Spike is SAN virtualization for disk backups. It provides a way to use capacity available on a SAN as a target for disk-based backup.

BigHorn is not expected to be available until the first half of 2006.

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