Symantec Backup Exec refresh targets virtual environments, SMBs

With the recent update of its line of data backup and recovery offerings, Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) is looking to help partners target opportunities around virtual environments and in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.

“We want to reduce 80 per cent of the operational cost of backup and recovery in the next five years,” said Amit Walia, vice-president of product management for Symantec’s information management group.

This week, the vendor released Backup Exec 2012, which includes its Backup release, after a longer that usual gap from the previous release. Symantec purposely took a year off between releases to improve the user interface and user friendliness of the product and addnew configuration options, Walia said.

The company has also reduced the number of SKUs for Backup Exec 2012 by 50 per cent from the previous version, making its partners’ “cheat sheet” much simpler and the product easier to sell, he said.

The new Backup Exec portfolio also includes the Backup Exec 3600 Appliance, which provides channel partners with flexibility by delivering the software offering in a preconfigured hardware appliance. It also launched a small business edition of Backup Exec for companies with one to three servers looking to backup basic Microsoft applications, such as Exchange.

Symantec also launched a version of Backup Exec specifically for virtualized environments, using its V-Ray technology, which provides the ability to backup virtual and physical environments without the need for specialized point products. It will also provide single file recovery and deduplication for VMware or Hyper-V environments-and physical servers.

The company also released NetBackup 7.5, which includes its V-Ray technology. Symantec claims its Accelerator feature can speed the backup process by 100 times. The product also allows for viewing and managing snapshots from a single console, with a search function to recover information faster.

Symantec recently surveyed about 1,400 IT professionals worldwide on their backup and disaster recovery processes. Its research suggests that  72 per cent of respondents would switch backup product if speed doubled.

Its survey results also suggest that organizations average four backup solutions to protect physical systems, and three for virtual. The company also says that 50 per cent of mid-market customers are already have 75 per cent of their environments virtualized, so there is good opportunity for selling the V-Ray edition.

Virtualization support is one of the key enhancements said Susan Taylor, chief operating officer at Ottawa-based Kanatek Inc., a Symantec partner. She’s seeing greater uptake in virtualization among businesses.

Kanatek also helps its customers with data retention and backup strategies. “Just evading the issue is not the right (strategy),” Taylor said.
“No product alone is good; there are policies and processes with it,” Walia added.

“Quite often today, what CIOs are struggling with is the talent and the process side of the equation,” Taylor said. This provides a major opportunity for managed services around backup and recovery.

Helping customers delete with confidence and set retention policies is admittedly a difficult task, since many users still want to keep everything or have to keep large amounts of data in case of litigation or for other mandated purposes. “As the technology evolves, so will the confidence,” she said.

But for now, efficiency is also critical for those large amounts of data, which is why Symantec touts the deduplication and granular search capabilities in its NetBackup product.

Symantec has also been putting emphasis on specializations for partners, said Fred Patterson, director of enterprise channels at Symantec Canada. Channel partners have the advantage of being able to go into multiple-vendor environments and consult on the backup needs objectively, and specializations help them become experts, he said.

“Backup really is an insurance policy,” said Ian Zwirek, network and systems manager at Montreal-based Quadra Chemicals, a Symantec customer. It doesn’t make a company more profit, so the more efficient and easier to use it can be, the better.

“Offering them choice of deployment is simplification,” Walia said. “Too often, we equate the word simple with the SMB segment,” but large enterprises also want to focus on business, not running IT. For example, having a plug-and-play appliance solution for backup is an important option.

“Tape is still not dead, but customers want to move away from tape,” Walia said. Still, some challenges remain with the vendor’s cloud backup, since it doesn’t have a data centre in Canada. Zwirek said this would be an issue for him, and Taylor said it could be an issue depending on the nature of the data.

Backed up data from Norton, Symantec’s consumer and SMB product, is already hosted in the U.S., Patterson pointed out. Symantec also hasn’t ruled out having a data centre hosted in Canada, Walia added.  

Follow Harmeet Singh on Twitter: @HarmeetCDN

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Harmeet Singh
Harmeet Singh
Harmeet reports on channel partner programs, new technologies and products and other issues relevant to Canada's channel community. She also contributes as a video journalist, providing content for the site's original streaming video. Harmeet is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism.

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