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Q&A: Veritas' top techie talks software

Veritas Software Corp., has spent the last decade trying to be the Switzerland of the storage industry. The company has seen major success in the storage management market by using that neutrality to make its products work with any and all of the hardware that's out there. But the ever-narrowing software market has been inundated with new offerings in the last several months by startups, former SSPs and, most notably, hardware vendors like EMC. SearchStorage asked Veritas' Chief Technology Officer, Paul Borril, about the increased competition, interoperability and what technologies the future holds for managing storage networks.

What technologies have been garnering the most customer interest over the past few quarters?
Customers are interested in solutions and not just buying products. There is a lot of interest in total cost of ownership and they are asking how TCO can be brought under control. Not just hardware and software, it's the cost of installation and support, which is reflected in the number of administrators needed to manage the storage. No one vendor can solve this problem. There is a lot of pressure against a purely proprietary solution. The proprietary solution is a very simple minded, outdated methodology to try and lock your customer into a single architecture. We know that storage is growing exponentially, that's why there's a greater interest in global services. Eventually you'll hit a wall and we'll have to have a technological solution. I believe that there are technology solutions in the pipeline that address that complexity. It seems like another software solution pops up every day. There are switch makers, HBA vendors and even tape companies getting into management software, not to mention the former storage service providers. Is Veritas getting a bit claustrophobic in the ever-crowding software arena and why is everyone getting into software?
We're not feeling threatened. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This [interest in software] is really a validation of our strategy. Now that everyone else is seeing how successful we're being we've become a target. When you're running down the field with the ball everyone targets you. Our strategy has been intensely developed behind the scenes. We're building systems that can are resilient and are able to survive failures and attacks. We're also supporting efficiency by developing software that gives a company the ability to respond quickly to [infrastructure] changes. Are the interoperability wars over? Will devices and software and applications finally talk to each other in heterogeneous storage networks?
Interoperability is an important issue for us because our software has to run across multiple platforms. We're literally on the frontlines; right in the middle of the complexity. If there's an interoperability issue we see it first. Just because someone says [a storage product] is compatible with a SAN specification doesn't mean it is. The only way to prove interoperability is from the testing. [When it comes to] interoperability pretty much all of the ideas have been exposed. All of the specifications are implicit in the Bluefin document. Interoperability is part of the overall problem of how do you conquer the complexity that is growing exponentially in the configuration and management of storage. What do you think of the software offerings from some of the former storage service providers?
The short term answer is thank you very much for validating Veritas' position. Software for managing storage has always been more important than hardware air conditioning and cooling. All of the [SSPs] have either died or changed models radically, but that might change in the long term. Inevitably, if the complexity of managing storage is not solved [through technology] we're going to feel pressure to centralize the expertise to manage that complexity, which was the [SSP's] original model. It might be ten years down the road, but in the long term SSPs could be successful with their original business model if we don't solve the complexity problem. However, I tend to believe that we will come up with a solution before that happens. When technology adapts to people instead of the other way around it becomes more of an amenity to human beings. It's not about bigger, faster, cheaper anymore. What Veritas wants to do is make storage an amenity. When you pick up a phone you expect to hear a dial tone and there's no thought as to the complexity that lies behind that dial tone. That's where we need to go with storage.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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