Symantec Intros Its First Hardware, Along With New E-discovery Software

Symantec has unveiled its first hardware product, a backup appliance with dedicated deduplication functionality and integration with its NetBackup data protection software, after years of denying it would ever enter the hardware business.

The storage and security vendor also unveiled the ability for its NetBackup software to connect to the Nirvanix storage cloud, as well as enhancements to its Enterprise Vault archiving software that makes legal discovery an integrated part of the archiving process.

Symantec this month is starting to ship its NetBackup 5000, an appliance which features an industry-standard server pre-integrated with the company's target-based deduplication software.

Symantec has always said it does not want to be a hardware vendor, admitted Brian Dye, vice president of product management for the company's Information Management group.

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"But our customers are talking about the need for an appliance," Dye said.

Turning Symantec's dedupe software into an appliance cuts the time to deploy dedupe technology down to under 20 minutes, which not only makes it easer for solution providers to deploy, it also makes it easier to sell, Dye said. For instance, a solution provider can quickly set up an appliance to do a proof of concept demonstration, he said.

Symantec plans to offer other appliances related to its NetBackup family, Dye said. However, the company does not plan to do the same for its Backup Express software line. "Backup Exec is already offered by other partners in an appliance form factor," he said.

The move to offer NetBackup-based appliances is all about giving customers and solution providers choice, said Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of North American channel sales.

"Symantec has no desire to get into the hardware business," Cochran said. "But we are giving that form factor, that capability, to customers as an option."

Symantec is not offering the NetBackup 5000 as a virtual appliance because such an offering would not have the performance of the hardware version, Dye said. "Anyway, customers can deploy NetBackup itself as a virtual machine," he said.

Symantec also introduced NetBackup Cloud Storage, which combines its NetBackup data protection software with the Nirvanix Storage Delivery Network. Nirvanix SDN is a fully managed, highly secure cloud storage service for enterprise customers.

NetBackup Cloud Storage automates and adds policies to data backups and recovery using Nirvanix SDN, Dye said.

Nirvanix is the first cloud storage partner that is working with NetBackup, but Symantec expects to unveil others in the near future, he said.

Also, similar integration with Backup Express is planned before the end of the year, he said.

Next: Expanding Enterprise Vault 9.0 For Legal Discovery

Symantec's expansion of its Enterprise Vault 9.0 to include legal discovery comes at a time when customers are still trying to understand what should and should not be deleted, Dye said.

Customers know that if they delete old data that they can reduce the cost of storage. However, they also fear the risk of deleting too much data should that data someday be required as part of the legal discovery process, Dye said.

In a recent customer survey, Symantec found that 87 percent of customers believe that their information strategy should include the ability to delete unneeded data.

"But 75 percent of companies have backups that include infinite retention of data," he said. "Forty percent of that 75 percent are storing data not relevant to litigation. And 46 percent of organizations to not have an information strategy."

For those reasons, Symantec is expanding the platform support of its Enterprise Vault 9.0 archiving software to include data created using Exchange 2010 SP1 and SharePoint 2010, as well as for Domino 8.5.1 and different Macintosh platforms.

"We believe that 2010 and 2011 will be big years for SharePoint," Dye said. "And as SharePoint grows, customers will run into the same archiving problems they have with Exchange.

Next: E-discovery And Deduplication Of Files And Emails

Also new is support for Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which lets customers use Microsoft Exchange Online with Enterprise Vault in order to combine hosted email with on-premise archived content sources into a central repository, Dye said.

Enterprise Vault 9.0 also now includes Enterprise Vault Discovery Collector for searching unmanaged data sources for e-discovery and internal investigation requirements, as well as integration with NetBackup to allow archived data to be migrated to tape or other media managed by NetBackup.

It also includes Enterprise Vault Discovery Accelerator for the deduplication of redundant files to cut the time needed to assess data for legal purposes, Dye said.

Enterprise Vault Discovery Accelerator dedupes files but not the search process for those files, Dye said. This is important, as attorneys often charge between $80 and $400 per hour to locate relevant information, much of which is available in duplicate files and emails.

"In the discovery world, companies are very conservative," he said. "They are not at the point where they are comfortable with deduping the search result. So instead of paying an attorney to read the same e-mail 15 times, now they can read it once."