Veritas gives products second billing to tired hype

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Veritas Vision A bit of boredom and a bit of spice marked Veritas CEO Gary Bloom's opening speech here at the Veritas Vision conference.

The boredom charge may come off harsh, but the accusation is most certainly apt as Bloom spoke with massive "Utility Now" signs surrounding him on stage. The utility computing message is all well and good, but you have to wonder if its time hasn't passed.

For years, companies such as IBM, EMC, HP and Sun Microsystems have littered the collective mind of the IT industry with fanciful analogies comparing the delivery of processing power or storage with turning on a faucet and watching water trickle out. And here, about thirty minutes into Bloom's keynote, the exec had the audacity to keep the water dream alive, walking the Veritas audience through the inner-workings of water delivery systems and all of their glory. Seriously, he did.

Given this staid performance, you might think Bloom hasn't heard the fluff charges surrounding utility computing. Not true.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people think it's a marketing term," he said.

Ah ha. He knows. (Incidentally, Bloom has a definite Artie Ziff quality - something we were reluctant to bring up before Veritas cancelled our meeting with the exec.)

So what does utility computing mean to Veritas then, if it can be more than a marketing term? It means getting the most out of your hardware, using the least amount of people to do so and saving money overall, Bloom said. This mission seems more obvious and practical than revolutionary to us. Don't dress it up.

No one would accuse Veritas of being the only company to get giddy about utility computing. IBM, HP, EMC, Sun and a long list of smaller companies all have cheered and continue to cheer the idea. But for a company such as Veritas to be relying on the term as the theme of a 2004 conference hurts. How long will this go on?

Unlike many of its rivals, Veritas can point to real, working product that helps customers keep track of hardware usage and that makes admins' lives easier. This is the spice, and is something Veritas should emphasize more than the utility computing babble. While Bloom spent but five minutes going over the new software during his keynote, we're here to help the company with its delivery.

First up, Veritas made a nice move today to bulk up the CommandCentral line of products.

Up until now, Veritas had only been offering CommandCentral Service - a metering tool for tracking hardware capacity usage and related costs. Now, Veritas has added in CommandCentral Storage and CommandCentral Availability to the mix.

The "integration" appears to go well beyond simply placing products under a common name. Veritas has managed to combine a large number of products together and give customers a single management console to play with all of the components. A demonstration of the software showed a clean interface with tabs for the Service, Storage and Availability pieces and then tools to dive down into each of these products.

CommandCentral Storage melds Veritas' SANPoint Control storage area network management software with its Storage Reporter product that tracks how users, applications and file types are eating up storage space.

The CommandCentral Availability product then brings Veritas' cluster management and high-availability tools to the table. The product uses a number of features found in Veritas Global Cluster Manager and basically provides users with a picture of a cluster's performance and ways to manage the servers.

The complete family of CommandCentral products can be purchased at a starting price of $64,000 starting in July. The standalone Storage piece starts at $20,000, the Service piece starts at $22,500, and the Availability piece starts at $26,000.

The second spicing comes courtesy of the Veritas MicroMeasure product. Veritas got its hands on this product when it acquired Ejasent in January.

The MicroMeasure software gives Veritas customers a way to perform hardware/software metering and charge-back billing. If utility computing means anything special, this is it, as it provides customers with a more refined way to bill their own customers and/or departments.

In the fourth quarter, Veritas plans to include the MicroMeasure product with CommandCentral Service.

So, in total, Veritas does have solid software to back up the Bloom factor. For a company much smaller than say IBM or HP, Veritas continues to prove that it can deliver strong in-house gear and make good use of acquisitions. And Vertias customers have the assurance that the company's code will indeed run on any number of operating systems and hardware systems - something rivals often struggle with.

Which begs the question - why call a conference Veritas Vision and then theme it around a tired marketing philosophy? For such an innovative company, we were hoping for a little more. ®

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