Symantec is driving the integration of a number of data protection technologies with the release this week of the latest version of its popular Backup Exec software, a move that many in the channel said is long overdue.
Backup Exec 12 for the first time has seamless integration with the Symantec Protection Network on-line data protection architecture, Symantec's Enterprise Vault for long-term archiving and restoration of data, and Symantec ThreatCon to automatically backup important data in an emergency, said Pat Hanavan, vice president of product management for the Backup Exec product line at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif.
Symantec's customers and partners have been waiting for this level of integration in the four years since the vendor acquired KVS, which it later renamed Enterprise Vault, said Keith Norbie, director of the storage division of Nexus Information Systems, a Plymouth, Minn.-based storage solution provider.
"Now we're finally seeing a peak at the potential," Norbie said.
Vendors like Symantec are learning that they can no longer continue to make things complicated for customers, a lesson they have learned from CommVault Systems, of Oceanport, N.J., which recently offered a high degree of integration between the various components in its Simpana suite of data protection software, Norbie said.
"It's nice to see that Backup Exec 12 is not just a minor update," he said. "The integration was very much needed, especially with Enterprise Vault. It's good to see a kind of 'easy button' for customers."
By integrating the Symantec Protection Network with Backup Exec, customers now have an easy way to get backups out of the four walls of their data center without relying on tape, Hanavan said.
"Existing Backup Exec customers can use Symantec Protection Network without the need to learn a new backup process," he said. "Once the normal backup is done, the data is automatically compressed and sent to the Symantec data center."
That kind of integration will mean a lot to customers who feel they have too many other projects going on to consider how to do it, said Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based Symantec partner.
Customers are interested in offloading processes like automated backups, and will debate whether to do the project or not, Teter said.
"For IT organizations who need a managed service to solve their backup problems, it's important to fulfill their needs," he said. "They might think they can do it in-house, but then they struggle with it. But if we can make it easy to do, it makes it easier for me to work with them on other projects that they don't want do as a managed service."
Backup Exec 12's integration with Enterprise Vault creates an automated archiving solution which can pull old data and place it into an archive, Hanavan said. While that data is archived with Enterprise Vault, customers can use Backup Exec to restore all or a part of it. About 40 percent of Enterprise Vault customers use Backup Exec as their data protection application, he said.
Integration with ThreatCon, an alert that Symantec generates based on the level of security threats, gives Backup Exec 12 the ability to automatically back up important data before such threats become a reality, Hanavan said.
"Customers can define policies on a backup by backup basis," he said. "So, for instance, they can set it so that if the threat level is elevated and is increasing, they know their data is protected. It's like a trigger mechanism."
Also new with Backup Exec 12 is enhanced support for Windows Server 2008, including what Hanavan called "no files left behind." Prior to Windows Server 2008, a backup application might skip files that were open during the backup process. However, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., requires that any data protection application certified for Windows Server 2008 has to use its VSS technology to do snapshots of open files to back them up, a feature of Backup Exec 12, he said.