HDS Signs Reseller Deal With Symantec, But Looks Inside For Long-Term Software Strategy

Hitachi Data Systems Tuesday said it is reselling enterprise data protection and archiving software and hardware from Symantec in what is likely a short-term move to help it capitalize on storage software sales while building up its own capabilities.

With the new agreement, HDS is now a reseller of Symantec's NetBackup data protection software, Enterprise Vault archiving software, Storage Foundation high-availability solution, and Scan Engine content-scanning security technology, said Rich Vining, senior product marketing manager for data protection at HDS, Santa Clara, Calif.

HDS also will resell Symantec's NetBackup data protection appliances, Vining said.

[Related: HDS, Hitachi Team Up For Global Office Of Technology And Planning]

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Vining, who joined HDS last May from IBM Tivoli, said he has been tasked with addressing the big hole in HDS' business caused by a lack of a solid data protection offering.

While HDS and Symantec have had a long-standing relationship in the enterprise storage business, closing a deal between the two took some time, according to Vining. said. "There was a lot of back and forth over whether it will be a reseller or OEM relationship, or whether there will be reciprocal reselling of each other's products," he said.

For HDS, a reseller relationship with Symantec is primarily a way to increase its storage software business while the company works on a longer-term strategy to build its own technology, Vining said. That strategy includes integrating its own continuous data protection, backup, archive and replication technologies with its hardware offerings, while providing a centralized orchestration framework and eventually delivering an end-to-end solution for the Hitachi Content Platform, he said.

For instance, Vining said, HDS plans to update its Hitachi Data Instance Manager, a data protection software HDS received with its 2012 acquisition of Cofio, to make it an archiving offering for the Hitachi Content Platform. The new version, expected to be available by year-end, will include policies around data protection and archiving.

HDS also is working to develop advanced snapshot technologies to take the place of traditional data backups over time, Vining said.

"The industry is moving toward new technologies like snapshots even as traditional backups continue," he said.

NEXT: Devil's In The Details

HDS' strategy is to wean partners off traditional backup technologies, but snapshot technology is not yet ready for all applications, Vining said.

"Our strategy is not to get into the backup business," he said. "Others have been doing this already for 20 years. Our strategy is to get into the backup and archive market today while developing more modern data protection and archiving applications going forward."

HDS' Hitachi Data Instance Manager already has capabilities such as continuous data protection, backup and replication, and is fairly scalable, Vining said. "But it's not ready to take over in large enterprises, or compete with the big boys like Symantec," he said. "But who knows? Things could change."

Time, and details, will tell how well the new relationship between HDS and Symantec will fare, said Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and partner of both companies.

"Symantec is universally accepted as a leader in the data protection and archiving software market," said Kadlec. "However, our Symantec and Hitachi deals are usually two different projects. If a customer does a NetBackup deal, it's usually not part of a storage upgrade."

When Consiliant does a storage infrastructure deal, it always asks customers about their data protection solution, Kadlec said.

"We prospect future business," he said. "But again, these deals are not usually done at the same time."

HDS currently has strong relationships with two other storage software vendors, Vining said.

The company OEMs the Simpana data protection software suite of CommVault as part of the Hitachi Data Protection Suite, a relationship that is expected to continue despite the new Symantec relationship. HDS also uses CommVault's IntelliSnap replication software as part of the HDS Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) and its virtualized Universal Storage Platform V offerings, he said.

In addition, HDS bundles FalconStor's Virtual Tape Library and File-interface Deduplication System technologies with its hardware to compete against such deduplication technologies as EMC's Data Domain, he said.

Under the terms of its agreement with Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, HDS can only sell Symantec software with its hardware, or to current HDS customers, Vining said. "We are essentially a tier-one distributor for Symantec," he said. "We don't want to conflict with the sales of other Symantec distributors and resellers."

NEXT: Register The Deal Via HDS Or Symantec?

HDS solution providers who want to resell Symantec software through HDS have to be an authorized Symantec partner first, Vining said. Deals can be registered via either HDS or Symantec, but partners will not be able to claim deal registration bonuses from both vendors for the same deal.

"Partners will get a better discount up front if they buy the Symantec products from us," he said. "But better back-end rebates, based on the level of partnership, may be available from Symantec. In my opinion, which vendor gets the Symantec deal comes down to how the deal is registered."

Kadlec said he expects that most of Consiliant's Symantec business will continue to be done directly via its Symantec relationship.

"If Hitachi brings us a Symantec deal, we will engage," he said. "But we do like most of the channel does: We go out and find the deals."

While HDS customers can purchase Symantec software via HDS or its solution providers as a way to consolidate purchasing, Symantec will handle support issues, Vining said.

"For support, customers prefer to work with the original software manufacturer," he said. "Having us in the way can frustrate customers. So our agreement helps streamline procurement while ensuring customers get the best support."