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Symantec plans Data Insight software to link storage resources with data owners

Symantec is preparing to launch a product based on security intellectual property called Data Insight, which will be integrated with Data Loss Prevention, CommandCentral Storage and Enterprise Vault.

Symantec Corp. is planning to pull together more intellectual property (IP) from its data storage and security businesses this year. The company says it will launch software in mid-2010 called Data Insight and integrate it with other products in the Symantec portfolio to link IT resources with data owners.

Other vendors have products that can provide this functionality, including data classification offerings from EMC Corp.'s Kazeon and StoredIQ and legal review products from e-discovery software vendors that track data according to case and custodian. Where Symantec is looking to get an edge on the market is in integrating Data Insight with its Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software, CommandCentral Storage storage resource management (SRM) tool, and Enterprise Vault data archiving product.

Symantec plans to add Data Insight to Symantec DLP around mid-year. The DLP suite monitors data storage repositories, end points and the network to ensure sensitive data isn't accessed by unauthorized users or sent out of the organization. Without Data Insight, when DLP finds sensitive data in an unsecure location, remediation is a manual process that requires trial and error to identify the owners of the data and get it stored in the proper location. Data Insight will identify the business owner responsible for the data.

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"Who owns data isn't always captured by file system metadata," said Sean Derrington, Symantec's director of storage management and high availability. Instead, the "owner" of data is represented by whoever last accessed or created a file, or the administrator of the server where the file originated, rather than its proper custodian within the organization. "You can gather what's in the file, but you don't necessarily have a proper picture to administer it properly."

According to Robert Hamilton, Symantec's senior product marketing manager for DLP, Data Insight is integrated with APIs from NetApp Inc. and EMC's Celerra business unit and Microsoft Corp.'s Active Directory, and there are plans to expand support to Unix systems.

After the integration with DLP, Symantec will work on integrating CommandCentral Storage and Enterprise Vault. While little information about the planned integration is currently being disclosed by Symantec, the purpose of the integrations would be to improve chargeback and support policy-based archive management.

Stephanie Balaouras, Forrester Research senior analyst, said Symantec has been planning deeper integration between its security and storage products since it acquired Veritas for its storage software in 2005, but so far integrated offerings have been few and far between. "I want to see them bring the vision to fruition that they talked about when they first merged [with Veritas]," Balaouras said.

Data Insight is a step in that direction, but Balaouras said she'd like to see Symantec consolidate further. "Now you have Enterprise Vault, CommandCentral Storage, NetBackup and Backup Exec, and they all seem to be gathering the same type of information," she said. "I'd like to see the ability to deploy one agent once, at least for unstructured data."

Users find concept interesting but are wary on execution

Symantec enterprise data storage users agreed with Balaouras that further consolidation is needed between Symantec's products and say that while the Data Insight concept is interesting, they have plenty of questions about how it will actually be deployed.

"[The Data Insight value proposition] captured the major issues for almost everyone in corporate IT," said Tom Becchetti, an enterprise storage architect and Symantec customer who asked that his company not be identified. "The challenge is in how it achieves these goals."

Specifically, Becchetti said he is concerned with the amount of hardware infrastructure and software agents it would take to deploy Data Insight as a separate product in a large environment, its impact on Active Directory performance, and support for operating systems beyond Windows.

"Indeed, today it's generally a problem to get a good view on unstructured data," wrote Reinoud Reynders, IT manager at University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, in an email to But he's heard this value proposition before. "In the past, this kind of product has always been difficult to manage: You get a lot of information that you have to handle. This was always the show stopper for this kind of solution. Also, the performance of those products was a big problem."

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