Veritas Throws Hat into On-Demand Ring

By Clint Boulton

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Veritas Software embraced the red-hot trend of utility computing Monday when it announced a number of new on-demand software initiatives and programs.

Utility computing, an approach in which companies call up computing properties as a metered service, is becoming a major force on the IT scene, as leading vendors such as IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, and Computer Associates have all adopted some sort of utility computing strategy at a time when businesses are financially constrained. Mountain View, Calif. Veritas made the announcement at its Veritas Vision 2003 conference in Las Vegas, less than a week after rival EMC was stationed in the same city for its own technology summit.

Mark Bregman, executive vice president of product operations at Veritas, said the fruits of its utility computing push come from two acquisitions the firms announced last December, Precise Software and Jareva Technologies, for a combined $599 million. With those plays, Veritas looked to transform from a provider of storage management software power to a maker of systems with application performance and availability management products.

Bregman said his firm is looking to attack a market where there is currently a tug of war with CIOs looking for better performance and availability from applications while the CEO and CFO want lower IT costs. That's why firms have been rushing to roll out utility services.

Bregman said Veritas came to compare the demand for infrastructure to a water company pipe. "People using the water aren't interested in the pipes and plumbing, or infrastructure, but they would like to control the water, or content. That's what we're giving them. People don't want four-hour showers, they want to be able to turn off the water they don't need."

Bill North, research director for storage software at IDC, said the move shouldn't come as a surprise to astute followers of Veritas, which he said over the last few years has quietly asserted itself as a leader in cluster server management. He said the firm is using that hammer, one also wielded by Microsoft, IBM, HP and Sun, to join the utility computing fray.

"They've always clustered Windows, Unix and multiple platforms with the message that 'we can do it everywhere,'" North said. "With Precise, they stuff that you'll find in storage resource management such as reporting tools and quota enforcement. The other piece is complementary and helps them tap into new markets. Precise has excellent application performance management tools. Veritas has been in the application-centric storage management business for awhile but this link s the top level applications from SAP. It's a great extension to the offerings they've add, to be able to link storage management capabilities to application service- level requirements."

North said startup Jareva automates the provisioning of servers, which is itself a market that is changing.

"Historically, we've seen moves from mainframes to open systems distributed platforms with almost mainframe like capabilities. Now, we're seeing emergence of blade computing, coming into play somehow, and they are aggregated and turned into large systems. Not many people have the tools to provide application performance management, server provisioning, clustering on their own, along with all of the storage and SAN management product. I expect to see them integrate so you get a simple, single pane of glass management."

As for the specifics, Veritas has integrated its software with Precise and Jareva software to create systems that can heal themselves, a practice known as autonomic computing in some circles. Precise' software tracks degradation, diagnoses the issue and notifies Jareva software that a new Web server machine is required. Jareva provisions the machine and hands it to Veritas Cluster Server to manage. This relationship keeps the system from bogging down.

To address hardware costs, Veritas has paired its Volume Manager and Veritas OpForce, which it picked up from Jareva, together with Cluster Server, so that storage and server resources can be shared. Bregman said new storage and server virtualization software tackles the issue of the lack of utilization. Previously, a new disk or server was purchased when they were maxed. The company also addressed labor costs of managing storage and server hardware with SANPoint Control, which performs zoning, masking and provisioning, and OpForce, which provisions servers when required.

The firm also introduced Service Manager to let IT staff define services they will provide to business applications. The software tracks a delivered service and calculates how much IT cost was incurred, which is then provided through a portal back to the business. Currently in beta, Service Manager is expected to be generally available in Q4 2003.

As for its competition with rival EMC, North expects it to stay heated, with the same "cooptition" gloss they've always shown. But whereas EMC is focused in storage utility with AutoIS, Veritas can now extend computing utility outside the storage space.