Storage Provides Path To Utility Computing

Veritas attempts to use its storage-management software to enter new markets.

May 11, 2004

3 Min Read
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More businesses have become interested in utility computing, the ability to dynamically allocate computing, network, and storage resources as needed. But business-technology managers face a challenge in figuring out which approach to utility computing will best suit their needs. Vendors offer a host of alternatives, ranging from outsourcing the entire IT operation, to buying hardware with extra processors or storage capacity that can be turned on when needed, to adding software that can shift workloads around to idle machines. Veritas Software Corp. is the latest to enter the market, trying to expand its position as the leading independent supplier of storage-management software by offering a broader array of systems-management and data-center-automation software.

"Storage is the closest part of the infrastructure to a utility because it's centrally managed, centrally backed up, and recoverable," says Gary Bloom, Veritas' president and CEO. "Not many other parts of the infrastructure can say that."

At its user conference last week, Veritas unveiled a batch of products to enhance storage-network and server-cluster management, key parts of developing a utility approach to computing. Customers say the vendor appears to be moving in the right direction.

Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., uses a variety of Veritas products to offer centrally managed storage resources and backup and recovery services to various departments across the campus. "We're trying to change [ourselves] from a cost center to a value center," says Dave Bucciero, director of systems services.

Before Bucciero began the pilot project at the start of the school year last fall, each department handled its own backup, using administrative personnel. The result was a haphazard process that often failed to back up crucial data. Now, the IT staff handles the task more efficiently, backup costs are lower, and departments are free to handle other tasks.Another big change: The departments are sent bills each month for the service. Even so, "departments are begging for the service," Bucciero says. He plans to roll out the service to the rest of the university's departments by year's end.

Another Veritas customer,, writes its own software to track hardware problems that slow database performance, says Rick Brauen, senior manager of database-design services. The Web retailer uses Veritas software to help analyze and fix the problems. It plans to add additional Veritas application modules to automate the processes further. "We run custom programs to take corrective actions, and we'll eventually swap our code for their code," he says.

Veritas plans to add capabilities to its software to manage blade-server clusters and move applications from one server to another, which will put it in competition with other large tech vendors. "There's no question they're heading in that direction," says John Webster, an analyst and founder of Data Mobility Group.

That will provide a new level of competition. Major systems vendors like Hewlett-Packard and IBM offer sophisticated systems-management products as well as utility-computing hardware and services. Veritas executives say the fact that the company doesn't offer hardware or favor one platform over another will prove to be an advantage, not a liability. Whether that turns out to true will be determined when more businesses decide on their utility-computing strategy.

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