Veritas retools storage software

Veritas Software will announce the latest version of one of its key networked storage-management products on Wednesday, adding a new layer of support for business software as well as improved reporting and automation tools.

With version 3.5 of its SANPoint Control product, Veritas has souped up its ability to manage complex networks of storage servers and other hardware. The company has built in ways for an administrator to see what hardware resources are available to run Oracle Corp.'s databases and Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange software. In addition, Veritas has automated many of the management tasks in SANPoint Control to make life easier for administrators, and has provided more detailed views of how data is being used within a company, said Jonathan Martin, director of product management for Veritas' high availability line.

Veritas will make the announcement here at the Storage Decisions conference, which runs through Wednesday.

"We are now expanding our product up into the application layer," Martin said. "It allows you to view and manage storage resources for an Oracle table space or Microsoft Exchange mailbox."

Veritas is in heated competition with vendors like EMC Corp. and IBM Corp. to offer software that can look across hardware from different vendors and provide an easy way to manage disparate systems. In addition, vendors are looking to automate complex management processes such as managing storage capacity for key business applications to ensure high levels of performance.

Managing storage area networks (SANs) has been challenging for users because it requires them to control vast amounts of hardware, including servers, storage systems, switches and host bus adapters (HBAs). In addition, competing hardware vendors are only in the early stages of swapping APIs (application programming interface) with each other to make management of multivendor gear possible.

Veritas, as a software-only player, has been somewhat neutral in this market and prides itself on being able to tap into a larger list of hardware than other vendors of SAN management products. With the latest version of its SANPoint Control product, Veritas can manage hardware from EMC, Hitachi Ltd. and HP, Martin said.

"Veritas' philosophy is very nice as far as I am concerned from the end-user perspective," said Nick Allen, an analyst with Gartner Inc., during a speech here.

The new version of the Veritas software presents a picture to the administrator of the underlying hardware infrastructure that is running an Oracle database, for example. Users can find out, in virtually real time, what systems the database is pulling information from and how the hardware is linked together, which can help a company adjust its infrastructure for better performance.

In addition, administrators can set policies for the ways their SAN should respond if the database, for example, runs out of storage resources. The user could tell SANPoint Control to make sure it adds room to a file system that is near its full capacity, Martin said.

"You can tell it to go out and find me 50G bytes of storage which resides on a Hitachi disk in a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) 5 configuration and is in the Boston area," Martin said.

Veritas, based in Mountain View, California, also added more than 100 new reporting tools that describe various aspects of a SAN, such as the amount of remaining storage in EMC or Hitachi gear, and how various hardware is performing. The reports can also forecast when, based on usage trends, more capacity may need to be added to the network.

EMC is expected to update its ControlCenter suite of management products this week as well. The company claims that its US$1 billion research and development investment in these products has allowed it to make more functional software than Veritas.

Gartner's Allen said EMC has the overall lead in the management market, however.

"EMC has done an excellent job of collecting data and massaging it anyway you want," he said, during the speech.

Allen, however, added that the SAN management market is still young and that the established players as well as smaller vendors have a chance to compete over the next few years.

Veritas plans to add support for various network attached storage (NAS) products next year.

The SANPoint Control product starts at US$20,000 with additional costs for port licenses and software agents.

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