Veritas Uncages Panther

Jumps into CDP quicker than expected, but without support for email or databases

May 26, 2005

3 Min Read
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CHICAGO -- After months of development on the sly, Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) unveiled its continuous data protection (CDP) product codenamed Panther here today at the Storage Decisions conference. The product will be available as a public beta beginning next week (see Veritas Releases New Software).

Panther is part of Veritass Windows-based Backup Exec family, though it will provide disk backup in conjunction with other companies' tape-backup software. Little was known about Panther before today, outside of a brief demo at a Veritas conference last month that provided few details.

This is the first time Veritas has hurried out a product as a public beta. Clearly, the company wants to beat Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to the punch as Microsoft prepares to launch its Data Protection Manager (DPM) later this year (see Microsoft Backs Up on CDP Claim).

Like DPM, Panther’s first release will be limited to restoring files, with support for Exchange and SQL Server planned in future versions. The ability to search email won't ship until next year.

Jeremy Burton, VP of Veritas’s data management group, says Panther has been in development for at least 15 months -- before Microsoft announced its disk-based product last September. But Microsoft’s announcement no doubt spurred Veritas to accelerate development. Adding to the rush is the pending acquisition of Veritas by Symantec for $13.5 billion (see Symantec & Veritas: It's a Deal). Microsoft will be the primary competition for Symantec’s combined data protection and security portfolio (see Symantec CEO Opens Roadmap). The Symantec-Veritas deal is pending shareholder approval.Microsoft isn’t the only target for Panther, though. Burton says he hopes customers of Windows-based tape backup from vendors such as Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA) and CommVault Systems Inc. will run Panther for disk backup, giving Veritas a chance to extend its market-leading position. The idea is to get those customers to switch to Backup Exec as more CDP features are added.

“We want a nice, easy way to penetrate our competition’s installation base,” Burton says. “None of the mainstream backup guys [i.e. EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and CA] are out there with this. Hopefully, this will be a problem for them.”

A key feature of Panther is that it retrieves all relevant files in an Explorer-type interface, and users can select the version to restore. The administration window is similar to Backup Exec’s.

While Panther will be able to take hourly snapshots, it also retains changes made to files between snaps. The host-based software installs on the same computer as the backup application, and it can be pushed out to all file servers it protects.

While lacking the sophistication of CDP products already shipping from startups such as Mendocino Software, Revivio Inc., and XOsoft, Panther does allow users to restore files from the block level at any point in time (see CDP: Calling It Right). Microsoft’s DPM will only allow restores from snapshots.Among CDP products, Panther is most similar to Windows-based offerings from startups TimeSpring Software Corp., Storactive Inc., and newcomer Mimosa Systems Inc. -- although those startups support Exchange (see Mimosa Covers Email).

Will customers use Panther now, and wait for email support when Mimosa, TimeSpring, and Storactive already handle Exchange? Burton says they will, because CDP alone isn’t enough to win customers.

For now, the plan is to get Panther out before the competition. “We called this the Panther project because we wanted this to be an aggressive development that runs in stealth and sneaks up on you,” Burton says.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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