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Veritas retools its Backup Exec baby

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Veritas has once again beefed up its popular storage software - Backup Exec - aimed at small- and medium-sized customers by adding a number of tools typically found only with its more expensive products.

Veritas CEO Gary Bloom today unveiled Backup Exec 10.0 in front of a large crowd full of reporters, analysts and customers here at the Essex House hotel in New York. The software meant for customers running Microsoft Windows servers should make it easier to backup data in small chunks, to use higher performing disk storage instead of tape and to monitor a large number of systems from a single management point. Overall, Veritas has brought some of the tools found in its pricier NetBackup product down to Backup Exec and made the new software work better with its Storage Exec and Replication Exec products.

"The number one thing (SMBs) need is efficiency," Bloom said. "They need low cost IT. We are talking, in some cases, about organizations that have handfuls of people at the most to run IT."

One of the higher-end additions to Backup Exec 10.0 is the "synthetic backup" technology first introduced with NetBackup. This software lets an administrator create a full backup once and then rely solely on incremental backups from there on out. Backup Exec will, as instructed, take all of the incremental backups and combine them to form a full backup. This saves customers from performing numerous full backups, which require lots of processing power and time.

Another time saver comes in the form of something Veritas is calling the Central Administration Server Option. This means customers can now manage all of their Backup Exec servers from one point. A number of users interviewed at the product launch were enamored with this tool, saying it should cut way back on the time it takes to make sure backups at various offices have been completed.

Veritas has also made it possible for SMBs to set up a type of backup staging process where they can first transfer data to disk storage for a given period of time and then have that information automatically go to tape for archiving purposes. This means that customers should be able to retrieve recently used data at a quicker clip than in the past.

Over the past year, Veritas has been working to create bundles of its various software products and this is again the case with Backup Exec 10.0. Veritas unveiled the Backup Exec Suite, which includes the core backup product and Replication Exec 3.1 and Storage Exec 5.3. The upshot of this is that customers can trigger tasks in either the replication or storage products and see these tasks running from the Backup Exec management window.

The Suite is really aimed at customers performing pretty sophisticated tasks. Veritas is providing a price break for buying all of the products. Backup Exec 10 starts at $895 and the replication (need two copies) and storage software are priced at $1,495 and $795, respectively. The Suite starts at $4,280 with a full year of technical support. So the price cut comes out to about $500.

Some of the lower-end but popular features also in Backup Exec 10 are tools for controlling PCs and laptops. Administrators can set up the software to backup specific files on users' machines and to let users retrieve their own files. This lets admins make users fend for themselves and should cut down on annoying phone calls.

"At most places, and Veritas is no exception to this, if you want to look after the data on a laptop then that is a self-service exercise," said Veritas EVP Jeremy Burton. "A lot of departments have kind of given up on protecting that precious desktop and laptop data."

No more.

In addition, Vertias' software can block the storage of certain types of files such as MP3s or videos because you never know when the RIAA (Recoding Industry Association of America) will come knocking.

"I think there is a $1,500 fine for every illegal MP3 stored inside a corporation," Burton said.

Veritas has also built its DirectAssist product into Backup Exec instead of making customers search for this on a support web site. This software can perform diagnostics and recommend ways to fix problems. It can also send system data straight to Veritas.

"Now when (customers) call up, we don't have to spend the next hour going over all the versions of software they might have," Bloom said.

Veritas' Backup Exec holds more than 50 percent of the Windows market, and there weren't a lot of surprises with the new version of this storage mainstay. As mentioned, Veritas has been busy filling the product with pretty solid tools that SMBs won't likely find in many other backup packages. Veritas also brags that Backup Exec can perform a full restore at the twice the speed of CA's ARCServe 11.1 and HP's Data Protector 5.5.

Last but not least, Veritas now has agents available for Linux and Unix clients as well.

In the long run, it remains to be seen how seriously Microsoft takes the low-end of the backup market. Last September, it made a feeble threat to encroach on some of Veritas' turf by announcing the Data Protection Server product. This software is said to arrive in the second half of this year, but Microsoft hasn't exactly established a tradition of on-time arrivals.

Veritas should continue to enjoy its large Windows market share without something radical popping out of Redmond. ®

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