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Microsoft and Seagate hunker down in EVault

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Microsoft is going to use Seagate software and its EVault cloud service to take on Symantec's backup products in heterogeneous Windows shops.

Data Protection Manager 2010 will use Seagate's i365 software to bring non-Windows server environments into the Windows backup and recovery fold, and its EVault service to add cloud backup and recovery to the existing hard drive and tape destinations. In effect Microsoft is OEM'ing the Seagate software and service.

DPM 2010 is Microsoft's System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 version and will be shipped in the first half of next year. It provides backup and recovery services for Windows systems. DPM 2010 will have integrated i365 EVault features which will enable it to extend its cover to non-Windows platforms such as Linux, Unix, NetWare, IBM's iSeries, Oracle and VMware, but not Mac systems.

EVault will also be used by Microsoft to provide offsite data protection by storing backups in the cloud using i365's EVault data centres. Seagate says EVault has "a network of SAS 70 Type II certified, Tier 3 and 4 hosting facilities, WAN optimised backup and recovery, disaster recovery experts and processes, and a 12-year track record protecting data for over 22,000 customers across the globe."

The service includes data compression and Delta Pro block-level deduplication to reduce network bandwidth needs. Seagate has been giving its i365 subsidiary a makeover, beginning in April this year with a change of senior management.

Terry Cunningham came in as a senior VP and general manager to replace Mark Grace who left the company, with no public thank you from Seagate for his services. Cunningham has been around the corporate exec block a few times already, having been a president and chief operating officer (COO) previously for Seagate, a CEO a couple of times and a COO at Veritas. At Seagate he will continue to manage the Branded Solutions business, reporting directly to CEO and president Steve Luczo, giving i365 issues top level exposure.

Coming on board with Cunningham are Dave Hallmen as VP world-wide customer operations and George Hoenig as VP for product operations. Both have Seagate Software and Veritas time in their CVs. We can view this i365 exec makeover as part of the Luczo new broom re-invigorating Seagate after Bill Watkins' time as CEO came to an end at the beginning of the year.

Microsoft is about to introduce its own cloud computing offering called Azure, yet it has chosen to go with Seagate's EVault for the cloud storage aspect of DPM backup. We might wonder how long such an arrangement is likely to last, given Azure's launch. Perhaps EVault will become a logical part of Azure.

The cloud side of this is interesting but it is the expansion of DPM's area of coverage to non-Windows' environments that is possibly more noteworthy. This will make DPM much more relevant to mixed Windows shops in data centres run by enterprises and small and medium businesses.

Seagate will have been, we might suppose, an enthusiastic and willing partner as its market exposure and revenues should increase markedly. All other mixed data centre shop backup and recovery product suppliers will be disadvantaged to some extent by this Microsoft-Seagate partnership. Seagate's i365 operation may well be looking for other quasi-white label OEM type deals to increase its coverage and, presumably, deployment of storage arrays using Seagate hard drives.

The Microsoft and Seagate collaboration has both technology and joint go-to-market components. Combined DPM 2010/EVault products will be available in several configurations. One of the first will be an appliance-based backup system scheduled for delivery in first half of 2010, coincident with the release to manufacturing of DPM 2010. ®

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