SMBs Praise Centralized Backup

Veritas's announcement this week highlights a key trend in the backup market

January 21, 2005

4 Min Read
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When Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) announced new capabilities in its Backup Exec product this week (see Veritas Announces New Software), customer testimonials came largely from small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). And centralized backup, the ability to back up remote-site data from a central console, was the key feature they praised.

"We want to take the local office out of the picture and centralize backup," says Ralph Barber, CIO of international law firm Holland & Knight LLP. He says his firm, which has grown from several hundred to over 4,000 employees in just a couple of years, saw "immediate savings" by piloting Veritas's new Backup Exec 10.0 this December. The new version does centralized backup that replaces the site-by-site backup the 30-site firm used to conduct.

Barber isn't alone in lauding centralized backup as a key feature for SMBs. Another Veritas customer, Adam L. Eiseman, CEO of The Lloyd Group, an integrator and consultancy specializing in basic IT solutions for SMBs, says firms with fewer than 500 users are characterized by rapid growth and low IT budgets.

"They are growing, and the cost of technology hasn't come down," he says. Customers want to keep IT under centralized control even as they increase the scale of their technology base. Clearly, having a way to control backups for multiple sites from one data center or network operations center (NOC) fits the bill.

As longtime Veritas customers, neither Barber nor Eiseman question why it took Veritas so long to deliver centralized backup, but one industry source, who asked not to be named, says some new features in Backup Exec, including centralized backup, are new only to Veritas.A leading competitor is Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA), whose CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup has had centralized backup for a year now. David Liff, product marketing director for data availability, says centralized backup has been "absolutely" critical to addressing the SMB market.

He says customers in this segment, which make up over half of CA's ARCserve customer base, can have IT staffs of three to five employees turn into setups with thousands of servers in short order, often through mergers. They need to maintain security and availability, and centralization of all functions is essential.

Other backup players with centralized capabilities include Arkeia Corp., CommVault Systems Inc., EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), and Intradyn Inc., to name just a few.

Notably, all of the vendors offering centralized backup have choices that could make for complications -- or conveniences. Arkeia, for instance, offers centralized backup for Linux or Unix servers, but doesn't offer replication. In contrast, Veritas has morphed some of its older products into the new Backup Exec suite, including replication.

CommVault's Galaxy Backup and Recovery product backs up Windows, Netware, Unix, Linux, and MacOS at a central console. A separate module can add replication.EMC offers EMC RepliStor and EMC Legato NetWorker, together, to provide centralized backup (RepliStor replicates remote-site data to a headquarters server, where NetWorker is used for backup). Alternatively, they can opt for Dantz Retrospect, the software EMC acquired with its purchase of Dantz Development Corp. for under $50 million in October (see EMC Dances With Dantz). Choices will depend on a customer's existing environment and reliance on particular EMC packages.

Intradyn also offers centralized backup choices, either via its BackAgain software with optional agents for remote workstations under Windows; or through its own RocketVault appliance, which works with a range of operating systems, including Linux and Unix.

Pricing also varies a bit: Arkeia's Network Backup starts at $490. CA's BrightStor ARCserve begins at $775. CommVault's Galaxy starts at $1,895. EMC's Retrospect costs $1,299. Veritas's Backup Exec starts at $895, and the replication module costs $1,495. Another module called Storage Exec, which can be used to screen out files from backup (such as MP3 files), costs $795.

All these vendors have one thing in common, despite any differences. For each, the letters "SMB" are crucial to the future success of their backup products. By feeding demand with features like centralization that speak to SMBs' need for technological streamlining, they hope to take those products to new levels of profitability.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch0

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