Vendor Profile: Reinventing Veritas

The storage-software company, renown for backup and recovery software, is finding truth in integration as it attempts to deliver utility computing.

June 10, 2004

4 Min Read
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Managing It All

Veritas is integrating its new products into a single management console that monitors servers, storage and applications, letting systems managers monitor storage and computing resources from one screen. North says he's been impressed with the previews of Veritas' Command Central management console, especially the automation features. Command Central, which integrates most of Veritas' newly acquired software, can get a busy application the resources it needs--processing power, for instance--from the utility-computing infrastructure automatically. Veritas' new software tools that run with Command Central also manage how and where data and resources are used.

Veritas first announced its intention to pursue utility computing at its annual Vision user conference in May 2003. The company wants to provide IT with an economic way to manage computing resources, says Bob Maness, Veritas' senior director of product marketing. "We are focusing on the delivery of these services as an extension of the products we already offer."

EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard already deliver components of utility computing, but such tools are still highly fragmented, North says. And those offerings, unlike Veritas' products, are typically hardware-specific. "Enterprises with a mix of these tools from different vendors don't get the benefit of true utility computing because IT still has to learn how to use each individual package, and there is little or no integration between them," North says. Veritas takes a more integrated approach and is more open because its products run on most hardware platforms, he says.

Veritas' Key Acquisitions for Utility Computing

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Veritas says it envisions its new products as a set of tools for the CIO to articulate, deliver and measure the value and effectiveness of IT services. The combination of tools connects and coordinates the once separate domains of database, systems and server administrators. By monitoring application performance and measuring the results against rules, applications can be made available automatically, and new servers and storage can be brought online as needed.

Say a company's workgroup application requires additional computing power as staffers are nearing a deadline. In that case, the monitoring software will detect the increase in CPU usage, then find other servers with available capacity and either bring them online to run the app or off-load the app's processing to them.

In the event your accounting department isn't using its allocated processor capacity, the Command Central console will notify IT administrators with an e-mail message or a page and suggest shifting the underused computing power to the workgroup app, for instance. A change like that will occur automatically, in as little as five seconds.

This lets CIOs proactively manage computing assets and prevent downtime, as well as stem budget requests at a time when IT money is still tight. A CIO can run a detailed analysis on each application, resource, department and user, resulting in more accurate budgeting and chargeback. Veritas' MicroMeasure, for example, reports usage statistics of individual users, departments and applications.

"CIOs are judged as successful if they can deliver one thing: Their applications are always available and performing to users' expectations," Veritas' Maness says. "We want to provide detailed information about past and present application performance, then predict that performance so changes can be made in advance of [potential] problems."Veritas' applications will provide Command Central information about server load, transaction performance, application utilization, load and available resources. So if a financial application is getting lots of traffic, for instance, Command Central will trigger a search for a more robust and available processor to handle the load.

What's in Store

But can Veritas successfully reinvent itself around the still elusive utility-computing model? The vendor still has a way to go before it makes inroads with other software-based utility-computing suppliers, such as BMC Software, Computer Associates and Mercury Interactive Corp. BMC's Documentum, for instance, is a tough app to compete against, says Phil Goodwin, a senior program director at Meta Group, because it digs into document content to determine whether it should go onto nearline storage or tape for long-term storage. In contrast, Veritas' information life-cycle management software just looks at the age of the document, Goodwin says. "It's less granular."

To truly transform itself, Veritas must preserve its backup-and-restore products and complete the integration of its new technologies and products, industry analysts say. It has a foot in the door, thanks to partnerships with big storage-platform suppliers like Cisco Systems--Veritas' SANPoint Control is available for Cisco 9000 SAN switches. Long term, Veritas also has an edge with its use of standard APIs, which should help it attract other vendors' hardware and software tools to its utility-computing platform.

Scott Koegler has been in the technology field for more than 25 years as an IT executive in industries as diverse as health care, printing and custom apparel. He has authored a book about systems integration, as well as hundreds of articles about computers, software, digital photography and networking. Write to him at [email protected].0

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