Veritas: FreeLove and more at Vertex Conference

When John Maxwell, senior director, data protection group, product management, stood up in a general session to introduce Vertex, Veritas' newest technology initiative, he told the audience he had good news and bad news. The good news was that Vertex is "the biggest single engineering initiative in the company's history," and the bad news was that the Vertex promotional CD, handed out with the registration materials, was contaminated with the virus.

That potential PR nightmare generated a good laugh from the audience of over 2,000, but it didn't stop Maxwell from continuing with his presentation and outlining the Vertex roadmap.

Vertex is the company's banner name for a set of technologies that utilise a frozen image or "snapshot" approach to backing up data. Since snapshotting takes point-in-time pictures of the data, Maxwell said that the ultimate goal of this product set is to make back-up windows irrelevant and to significantly reduce the time needed for recovery windows.

Maxwell also explained that 80 per cent of database recoveries occur not because of hardware failure, but because of operational failure or application errors, and that in order to properly restore the database administrators need to return to point-in-time pictures of the data.

According to Carolyn DiCenzo, chief analyst, storage management software worldwide for Dataquest, snapshotting is the future of data back-up.

"There is no way to do back-ups with traditional methods. We don't have the windows to do copy and back-up. You're going to see everybody using snapshots."

Vertex will be rolled out in two phases. Phase one will see existing products, such as NetBackup for Oracle Advanced BLI Agent, NetBackup for EMC Symmetrix and NetBackup for HP XP 256 joined by a new offering: NetBackup Server Free Agent 4.0V.

In beta now, Server Free Agent will create a data snapshot, map the data by drilling down through the I/O stack and linking the logical file names to the physical blocks of data, and then offload the data to be moved from the application or database server onto a third party.

Server Free Agent will also provide users with a common interface for all their snapshotting technology, a feature which DiCenzo said other vendors will be challenged to include.

The second phase will see support added for SQL Server and Exchange on the software side, EMC, HP, Sun, Compaq, HDS, and IBM on the hardware side, and third-party copy (3PC) on the SAN side.

During another general session, Veritas chairman and CEO Mark Leslie told the audience that the company's five-year plan includes spending $US3.9 billion on research and development money in the area of data availability. As well, he is looking to grow Veritas from a $US1 billion business into one worth $US10 billion, and that a large portion of that growth will come from expanding support for various operating system.

Michael Karp, director of storage management for the Hurwitz Group, said that is definitely the right direction for the company to take.

"They have to spread their expertise beyond Sun to general Unix and NT. They have to be vigorous in that," he said.

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