CA unveils BrightStor storage product line

Computer Associates International Inc. said Tuesday it intends to compete head-to-head with Veritas Software Corp. for market share in the enterprise data backup and storage space, a move expected to yield more choices for users in this market. CA said it is consolidating its storage applications under its new BrightStor brand, and releasing its first BrightStor-branded product, BrightStor Enterprise Backup.

BrightStor Enterprise Backup supports a range of platforms, including NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) devices running on Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Unix. Its sustained backup throughput capacity has been benchmarked at 1.5 terabytes per hour on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris 8 operating system and 1 terabyte per hour on Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX 11i system, according to tests audited by analyst firm Doculabs Inc.

In addition to its speed, BrightStor Enterprise Backup's advantages include its ability to perform relational database backups in "serverless" mode over SANs, its ability to dynamically share tape drives between Windows and Unix servers in a SAN, and its "bare-metal" disk-based disaster recovery capabilities for Unix, CA said.

CA's primary storage and backup application has historically been ArcServe. BrightStor Enterprise Backup won't replace ArcServe; instead, it's aimed at a different market segment, said Sabrinath Rao, a CA corporate marketing product manager. ArcServe 2000 -- which will soon be renamed BrightStor ArcServe 2000 -- will remain CA's application for workgroup and departmental backup and storage needs, while BrightStor Enterprise Backup is a high-end product aimed at resource-intensive areas such as corporate data centers, Rao said.

"We didn't have a strong enough solution there," Rao said.

ArcServe has occasionally "bumped into" the high-end enterprise backup sector, but on the whole "it's been a Veritas market," said CA President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sanjay Kumar during a press conference.

"We have had consistent requests from customers and partners to develop a high-end product," he said. "We expect to start gaining market share instantly in that marketplace. There are customers looking for an alternative."

Kumar said BrightStor Enterprise Backup's speed and flexibility will help it dethrone Veritas; he also said the application will be priced aggressively.

"We will absolutely beat (Veritas) on a price-performance basis," he said. "We will effectively be cheaper. We have nothing to lose and we absolutely intend to make a splash in the marketplace and erode (Veritas's market) share."

Kumar and other CA partners and customers speaking at the press conference repeatedly touted BrightStor Enterprise Backup's backup speed, but the application's data recovery speed was barely mentioned. Doculabs verified that data backed up with BrightStor Enterprise Backup is recoverable, but didn't test recovery speeds, said Doculabs Executive Vice President of Research Jeetu Patel.

"Backup is the real key bottleneck," Kumar said. "A lot of the enterprise's focus is speed in moving things off."

A pair of analysts interviewed after the press conference disagreed with that assessment.

"I couldn't believe what I heard," said Illuminata Inc. analyst James Governor. "Recovery is the bottleneck. Recovery is the critical issue. For the panel to claim that it's not seems kind of absurd. ... If you're a clearinghouse and your systems go down, you can't afford to wait an hour."

"It doesn't matter how fast you can back up nearly as much as how fast you can restore after a crash," agreed Michael Dortch, a principal analyst with Robert Frances Group. "I wish the people speaking had shown that they take restoration as seriously as they take backup. IT executives worry about it just as much."

Dortch said he won't have a clear picture of BrightStor Enterprise Backup until CA provides more detail on its recovery capabilities.

"These are enterprise-class (backup) speeds," he said. "All they have to do is have Doculabs benchmark the recovery speeds. I'd like to see them do it sooner rather than later."

Overall, Dortch said he thinks CA's product has a shot against Veritas. "There is not an IT market on the planet in which there is not room for competition," he said.

CA also said Tuesday it is expanding its partnership with storage vendor EMC Corp. The two firms first teamed in December to integrate their storage products. This week, CA said it is offering a package designed in conjunction with EMC featuring applications tailored to EMC's TimeFinder software. The two firms said they will work together on joint development projects, which they will jointly market and support.

CA World continues here through Thursday.

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