The storage environment is still a heavily heterogeneous one, and Veritas Software aims to be the first to use software to manage that environment through a single, unified platform.
That was the message delivered by Gary Bloom, chairman, president and CEO of Veritas, in a keynote address and in a meeting with CRN this week at the Veritas Vision 2002 conference here.
Several industry observers, however, said the Veritas initiative is really intended to reassert the vendor's leadership in the storage software market and to steal some thunder from archrival EMC and its WideSky interoperability initiative.
On Monday, Veritas introduced its Adaptive Software Architecture, under which software and services based on the vendor's storage management software line will be used to reduce data center complexity.
Key to that architecture is the fact that the full range of Veritas' storage management products, including database management, clustering, data replication, backup and restore, volume management, SAN management and file system management, are available across Solaris and HP-UX. They are also available to manage storage under the Windows environment, except for file system management, and are expected to be available for Linux by year-end.
Veritas on Tuesday unveiled support for the IBM AIX environment as well. "With that, we'll have all the major Unix environments, with all of our software," Bloom said.
To ensure interoperability, Veritas has inked partnerships with 38 storage and application vendors under its Veritas Enabled program. These partners share access to APIs and cooperate on development and testing solutions. Nineteen storage networking vendors also have joined the Veritas Powered program, focused on developing interoperable storage networks.
Customers seldom plan to use heterogeneous storage environments but many have been forced to do so in part because of evolving product development plans by some storage vendors, said Bloom.
"A good example . . . was Hewlett-Packard," he said. "Hewlett-Packard started off with an EMC relationship, and then they shifted to an Hitachi Data Systems relationship. They still sell a lot of HP equipment. Now they're merging with Compaq [Computer. Well, Compaq has a full suite of storage hardware as well. So, if you followed HP's recommendations, you'd be inherently heterogeneous."
Consolidation also increases the likelihood of heterogeneous storage environments. "You may be an all-IBM shop today, but the company you may buy tomorrow may in fact be completely standardized on EMC or Sun [Microsystems or HP," Bloom said.
Veritas already has broad industry support for its Adaptive Software Architecture, something EMC cannot also claim for its WideSky effort, he said.
"[EMC doesn't have Veritas support for it, it doesn't have Hitachi support for it, they don't have Sun support, they don't have HP support, they don't have IBM support," he said. "How you [can move an industrywide initiative forward if you have no industry support is a mystery to me."
WideSky is aimed at building a set of heterogeneous storage APIs and interfaces for the hardware world, something Veritas already offers, said Bloom.
Veritas' Adaptive Storage Architecture is already becoming a reality as certain vendor partners add Veritas' storage intelligence into their products, he added. Over time, Bloom said he expects other Veritas technology such as global operations management that provides a broad view of overall storage will move into partners' products as well, but he was unable to say when this would happen.
Hank Johnson, vice president of infrastructure solutions at Stonebridge Technologies, a Dallas-based Sun and Veritas solution provider, said Veritas has a holistic view under which one screen can offer as much information about a storage environment as possible. "The Veritas story has come around this vision," he said.
A unified software approach is an important step for many clients, Johnson said. "In business intelligence, you need to organize data, slice and dice it, and report it," he said. "This is consistent with the Veritas view."
Derek Gamradt, vice president of engineering and CTO of StorNet, an Englewood, Colo.-based storage specialist solution provider, said the reinvigorated Veritas message is at least in part a response to EMC's WideSky initiative.
"Who's been getting all the press and all the play on heterogeneity in terms of interoperability?" said Gamradt. "Now here lies the irony. Who's actually been doing it for the longest time? So, I think it's probably high time for Veritas to crank up their PR machine to a commensurate noise level."
This is the coming-out party for Veritas, Gamradt said. "The virtual gauntlet being thrown," he said. "This is it. We're going to look back in history and see this as a crossroads of a sort."
On the competitive front, Bloom said moves by EMC to be a player in the heterogeneous storage management field are failing because of that vendor's hardware emphasis. EMC doesn't have clustering software, and its backup software has no noticeable market share, he said.
"Replication is the only place we compete," said Bloom. "[But they think about replication from one EMC drive to another EMC drive," he said. "I think of replication from an Hitachi environment to an EMC environment, or an EMC environment to a Sun environment. We're hardware-agnostic."
Recent moves by Computer Associates International focused on claiming storage management share were dismissed by Bloom, who said the company has made the same proclamations before. "BrightStor was last year's news," he said. "Now they're trying essentially to recycle the story to be this year's news. It's not a very bright vision. While they're talking vision and strategy, we're talking strategy, and we're solving real customer problems with our backup technology."