Veritas customers demand answers

Australian IT managers are hoping the marriage between storage software vendor Veritas and security firm Symantec will spawn a superior product; however, many of Veritas' customers still seem blissfully unaware the merger is going ahead.

IT manager for Sutherland Shire Council, Sid Curry, is one Veritas customer still waiting to find out the hand to be dealt to him by Symantec.

"We have not heard anything from Veritas, which is the issue for us. But as far as we are concerned the product we have now is great, and robust, and the range of support from Veritas has been very professional. But you never know with mergers," Curry said.

A four-year user of Veritas products - Cluster Server, Volume Manager and Netbackup - Curry warned licensing issues between the two companies must be ironed out and explained to customers. The merger will be successful only if each company leaves each other's product alone.

"One thing they need to do is to improve on licensing details, but not touch the solid products that perform well - we are all waiting to see if that happens.

"I would be very unhappy if Veritas changed its approach and took support offshore. But it is not as if Symantec and Veritas are competitors, as one is reliant on online sales and the other has a footprint in the enterprise space," Curry said.

Harry Brigden, managing director of online equity broker E*Trade also has concerns over licensing saying there is potential to confuse many users, but feels competition is alive and well.

"We use products from both vendors as they both have certain strengths but in particular areas. The best mode of attack for market share by Symantec is to go after Veritas because it already does what Symantec cannot.

"Even if the end result is a monopoly in the security space ... someone smaller will come along and undermine them as it is an evolving market.

But it looks like we will get some quality products out of the acquisition whether you want the complete package or to break it down into components," Brigden said.

The new entity will operate under the Symantec name but retain both brands. Symantec will pay nearly $17 billion for Veritas, which employs 250 staff in Australia while Symantec employs nearly 150 people locally.

Intriguingly, Veritas is blaming communication delays on the Christmas snail mail log-jam.

"Communications about the merger were sent to all customers and partners from the US before the Christmas break. If anyone has not been contacted or been missed it is because of annual holidays or a delay in internal mail and Veritas account managers will contact them in the New Year," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, both companies have been pitching the value of the merged entity to capital markets - expected to be $73 billion by 2007.

The merger is expected to close in April, 2005 subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Frost & Sullivan senior analyst, Foad Fadaghi, said while Symantec's acquisition of Veritas meant more consolidation in storage and security for 2005, core security players were bracing for an all-out security assault by Microsoft during 2005.

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