Symantec Expands Storage Appliance Line, Plans Security Appliances

Symantec, a company best known as a leading vendor of storage and security software, on Monday said it has expanded its hardware business with the release of two new storage appliances and plans to release a series of security appliances.

Symantec traditionally sold its storage and security software either as stand-alone applications or as a service. However, it is moving to integrate many of its applications with industry-standard servers from its Huawei partnership as a way to give customers more choice over how they acquire Symantec's technology, said Yogesh Agrawal, vice president and general manger of the company's FileStore product line.

The move also meets customer requirements for pre-integrated solutions which fit into their existing IT environments while helping cut the total cost of ownership of its applications, Agrawal said.

The appliances can also reduce complexity, Agrawal said. "Before, customers needed to work with different vendors to get the hardware and then do the integration," he said. "Now we're giving them pre-integrated appliances to help speed up their purchasing and deployment time."

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While Symantec this week is unveiling new storage appliances, it is also planning to offer security appliances, Agrawal said. However, he said, the company is not yet ready to discuss a security appliance timetable or what types of appliances will initially be offered.

Symantec, which several years ago had a security appliance offering, re-entered the appliance market in September with the release of its NetBackup 5000, an appliance which features an industry-standard server pre-integrated with the company's target-based deduplication software.

Symantec on Monday unveiled the FileStore N8300, a scale-out NAS appliance integrated with the company's NetBackup backup software, its Enterprise Vault archiving application, its Storage Foundation dynamic tiering software, and its EndPoint Protection security software, Agrawal said.

The FileStore N8300 can be used to help customers manage unstructured data growth for both storage and archiving purposes in their own data centers or in storage cloud environments, he said.

It scales from two to 16 nodes and to a maximum of 1.4 petabytes within a single cluster, making it possible to use to build a storage cloud, he said.

Also new is the NetBackup 5200, an appliance which is integrated with Symantec's NetBackup 7 software, which also includes dedupe capabilities, said Nicole Kim, senior manager of Symantec's Information Management Group.

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The NetBackup 5200 offers RAID 6 protection for up to 32 TBs of post-deduplication capacity, and has a throughput of 10.5 TBs per hour, Kim said.

It differs from the NetBackup 5000 in that the earlier product offered only target deduplication, but did not include backup capabilities, she said.

Symantec's channel partners said the vendor's move to embrace the appliance model is one that both they and their customers will embrace.

Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and long-time Symantec partner, said the vendor is facing a slow transition to becoming a hardware vendor because every customer already uses its software on their own hardware.

However, Teter said, the market is moving towards appliances for storage and security. ASG, for instance, already deploys Data Domain and Quantum appliances for storage, as well as security appliances from CheckPoint and Juniper Networks, he said.

"It's going to take a concerted effort to present Symantec hardware to customers," he said. "But we're a Symantec partner. We'll continue to present their products. And it makes sense for new customer who don't want to stand up their own hardware."

The move by Symantec to bring more appliances to market reflects a need by customers for new ways to simplify their IT environments, said Dennis Mueller, vice president of technical services at CMT, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider.

"With appliances, customers get the hardware, software, and support all in one bundle, as well as lower cost of ownership," Mueller said.

The appliances will not fit all customer needs, Mueller said. But it be a great fit for many customers, and will help accelerate the sales cycle.

"When you deal with software, you need to also deal with different hardware on the backend," he said. "Different servers, different storage. This makes it more complex. You need to get the server, network, and storage guys all involved for a backup solution. And you get finger pointing among the vendors if there's a problem."

Mueller said Symantec's appliances will be a good choice for smaller offices, or for companies with multiple branches. "But for complex environments, customers will still buy the storage and servers they need to the exact fit they need."