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Veritas CEO stays silent on Symantec dreams

User show is 'the wrong audience'

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Veritas Vision Veritas CEO Gary Bloom was in duck and cover mode today as the company's main user conference kicked off here in San Francisco. The executive dodged questions about Veritas' ongoing merger process with Symantec and declined to provide details on upcoming software products. As it turns out, the new code, including a revised version of NetBackup and of EnterpriseVault, will be revealed tomorrow by other Veritas brass.

"The reality is that as we are going through the integration processes and going through the legal processes (of the merger), there is a certain limit on how far we can go," Bloom said, when pressed to lay out more detailed post-merger plans.

Bloom's opening keynote at the Vertias Vision show was a pleasant change from last year's debacle in which he laid out a utility computing plan that was neither clear nor visionary. This year, Bloom presented Veritas as a pragmatic company focused on improving product through in-house engineering as well as via acquisition. In addition, with or without Symantec, Veritas produces a steady stream of cash which funds above average amounts of research and development spending, Bloom said.

Despite Veritas' position as market leader in its key businesses and a strong balance sheet, many analysts and investors fear that the storage software maker will weigh down a faster growing Symantec. (The deal is set to close by the end of the second quarter, pending standard approvals.) Bloom did his best to assuage such concerns.

"I would not confuse Wall Street's response with customer response," he said, during a question and answer session with reporters. "Customer response has been very positive about this merger."

Contrary to Bloom's words, one customer at Veritas Vision complimented Veritas's support work and said he was concerned that Symantec might not live up to existing standards. Veritas hopes that the merger will be "transparent" to customers, Bloom responded.

Another customer was less complimentary about Veritas' licensing policy, saying managing all of the different Veritas products has become a nightmare at his company. The customer's question to Bloom about this elicited a huge round of applause from the Vision audience.

"Obviously some of your peers in the room share this (frustration) with you," Bloom said.

The executive, however, declined to provide any specific details on how Veritas will improve its licensing policy. "All I can give you today details-wise is a commitment to improve," Bloom said.

Bloom was as murky on the merged Symanitas' product plans and areas of future acquisition interest.

"I am not going to get into the (merger and acquisition) strategy of the combined company," Bloom said to reporters. "This is the wrong audience for it."

Could there be a better audience than a room full of reporters to get your vision out, especially at the Veritas Vision conference?

What customers will hear about this show in the coming days is the release of NetBackup 6.0 and EnterpriseVault 6.0. We'll be sure to bring you all the details on this new product when it's released tomorrow.

Overall, Bloom's reticence to delve too deeply into product or post-merger plans was understandable, albeit frustrating, given the regulatory constraints placed on public companies engaged in an acquisition. The executive - typically one of the more straightforward in the industry - rightly vowed to keep Veritas focused on making heterogeneous software for storage and server systems. In addition, he promised to try and make life easier on customers by using Symanitas' position as the world's largest Windows ISV.

Veritas and Symantec believe they have an edge over the competition by taking on a merger of this size at this time.

"You've only seen a fraction of what I believe will happen in the industry," Bloom said, talking about the number of acquisitions and overall consolidation in the software market. "I think you will see a lot more of it. I think it's in the early stages." ®

Related stories

EMC wags new NAS giant at rivals NetApp and IBM
Microsoft stirs storage waters with backup beta
Can compliance-challenged Veritas sell compliance?
Veritas CEO promises Symantec buy will be kind and gentle
Veritas retools its Backup Exec baby
Symantec outlines plans for Veritas

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