Veritas architecture promises consistency, adaptability

DALLAS — CanFor Corp. is just the kind of company Veritas Software Corp. president and CEO Gary Bloom was referring to when he discussed how enterprises will be affected by the

Adaptive Software Architecture the company unveiled at its Vision 2002 conference this week.

To illustrate the heterogeneity of today’s enterprises, Bloom alluded to seasoned Hewlett-Packard Co. customers who, due to HP’s changing partnership arrangements, would have technology from a number of vendors, including EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems, in their storage architectures. Veritas’ new architecture, and accompanying Partner and Enabled programs are about process consistency through interoperability, Bloom said, as Veritas’ quest to bridge the disparate pieces of hardware and software that make up storage infrastructures. Partners already signed on to the programs include IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., HP, Hitachi and EMC.

A longtime HP customer with the requisite heterogeneous storage environment, CanFor was evaluating both HP’s Omniback and Veritas’ NetBackup in 2000, as it moved to implement a new backup and recovery solution after acquiring fellow forestry products company Northwood Inc. in 1999.

Northwood had been on Omniback, but CanFor was using Computer Associates International Inc.’s ArcServe for its daily backup and wanted a unified solution for the entire operation.

“”When our IT groups joined, each of us had our own comfort zone with different backup environments,”” said Steve Staves, Canfor’s senior technical analyst. “”Everybody just agreed Veritas was the one to go with for ease of use and manageability.””

Veritas handled the integration of CanFor’s systems last year, but the adaptability roadmap laid out by Bloom and other Veritas executives Monday suggests such a process will require decidedly less effort in the future.

“”It means people are writing our interfaces into their hardware and that makes it easier,”” said Veritas Canada general manager Fred Dimson. “”If (a vendor) comes up with some new product, they can plug that into their environment and it will work.””

CanFor uses NetBackup on its master backup server, located at the company’s Vancouver head office. The server backs up data from CanFor’s Exchange databases and its geographical information systems, which Staves said are high in volume. Rivers, roads and other geographical features each require their own layer on the resource maps CanFor submits to governments.

“”The government requires more and more information for the replanting,”” he said. “”They (government) drive their own data requirements.””

NetBackup is also ensuring CanFor’s Oracle Corp. financial systems data as Canfor migrates the systems from mainframe to Unix cluster environments. But Staves said he expects Veritas’ new plan to give him much greater control of the company’s data.

Veritas Enabled, the company’s strategy to make heterogeneous environments more user-friendly, includes access to application programming interfaces (APIs), co-operative technical support and development and brand awareness initiatives. Veritas has managed to enlist IBM, EMC, Sun, Cisco, HP, Hitachi, Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., among other companies that compete fiercely with each other.

“”These guys, they barely talk to each other,”” said Rob Soderbery, Veritas’s senior director of product business development. “”Veritas is able to be the hub and pull all of these together.””

The Powered program is Veritas’ attempt to move storage off the server and into the network. Companies involved in the program include Dell, Sun and Cisco, which on Monday announced it had entered into an agreement with Veritas to bring next-generation storage networking solutions to market.

Soderbery said switches and routers are suited to handle virtualization applications, while servers are still the best for clustering and data protection. He said when migrated to switches, storage can be managed as a network as opposed to a collection of servers.

“”It will make monitoring and management a lot easier,”” Staves said. “”If it’s going the way I’m hoping it will, (it will be) centralized management of everything from one console. That will help a great deal. Everybody’s got a heterogeneous environment.””

Veritas’ strategy of enabling interoperability on different storage network and software platforms got another boost on Tuesday when the company announced that its full suite of software products will be supported by AIX, IBM’s Unix operating system. With the announcement, vendors of all the major software platforms — Sun, HP, IBM and Microsoft, as well as Linux — will be in the Veritas tent.

“”A lot of people think this is about heterogeneity. It really goes one step further than that. A lot of it is consistency of processes,”” said Bloom. “”What (customers) want is software that manages across different environments.””

Both Bloom and Dimson acknowledged hardware and software vendors, including Veritas partners, could develop their own vendor-agnostic software. But they said Veritas enjoys a competitive advantage by virtue of its head start, barriers to entry in the market, and the fact that Veritas is not beholden to any one hardware vendor.

“”There are other vendors that are trying to do that. But when EMC’s talking to Hitachi, how open is Hitachi going to be?”” Dimson said. “”What we would love to see is that Veritas becomes the de facto standard in storage management.””

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