It's not only users who are being pushed to do more in the face of information growth, says Chris Boorman, marketing VP at Veritas EMEA. His company, having quite recently acquired email vaulting specialist KVS for its Enterprise Vault software, is now merging with Symantec - and that means a lot of diverse product lines to converge, too.

"It's the largest merger ever in the software business, and it creates the fourth largest software company," he says, arguing though that the product combinations are logical ones which would have been needed anyway, even if the three companies had not come together.

Unstructured data growth
"We have seen the coming together of a number of disciplines. Most organisations know how to do backup and restore, but we've seen in the last few years a growth in the world of archiving, for example of unstructured data," he says.

"People know how to backup and restore, but enterprise vaulting is a different discipline. Our strategy is instead of having different policies or strategies, you bring them together."

The practical upshot for now, he says, is that with the recent release of version 6, Enterprise Vault has gained access to tape storage via NetBackup, which has also recently hit version 6. Previously, the email archiving software could only migrate information from primary disk storage onto secondary disk or fixed content devices.

Enterprise Vault 6 also introduces a PST sniffer which can discover Microsoft Outlook PST files on the network and migrate them into the vault. Then you can choose to have it delete those PST files, but the user sees no difference - data requests go to the vault instead. Not only does this remove the problem of PST files over 1GB in size becoming corrupted and create a central archive, it saves storage too because now if several users have the same file attachment stored, the system only stores one copy.

Integrated backup and archiving
"Enterprise Vault used disk as its storage medium - it was the number one sales driver for EMC Celerra - and now we have integrated that with NetBackup Media Manager so you can start moving vault data onto different classes of storage, because as these vaults grow - and boy, are they growing - you want the ability to use different classes of storage," Boorman says..

This has the side-effect of making tape more useful and reducing the amount of disk needed, he adds: "We've seen the total commoditisation of hardware, so our mission now is to help customers get the most value out of their hardware."

The aim seems to be for NetBackup to become the data storage engine underlying both backup and archiving, with tools such as Enterprise Vault then providing the information movement logic that sits on top of that. Boorman says there are two key areas to understand here - the first is the interplay between the many demands made on data, and the second is the difference between data and information.

"Archiving is about discovering the information you need, backup is storing it. They are different functions but they have to be integrated," he explains. "The massive growth of information is out of control in many organisations. Archiving allows you to understand information, backup allows you to store data.

He continues, "Part of utility computing is that information is always available, is protected and that the pipe to the user is available, including optimal performance."

That means improvements are still needed to the data storage engine as well as the information archiving tools. Boorman says that a major partner here is Network Appliance, which has worked with Veritas to integrate its NearStore near-line disk arrays with NetBackup.

The result is that backups can be stored online, with redundant data eliminated, and can be mounted and browsed so end users can recover their own files. NetBackup also provides policy management for NetApp's snapshot tools for data migration, Boorman says.

"In NetBackup 6 we have significantly increased the whole disk-to-disk efficiency, from the console you can manage all the snapshot capabilities of NetApp, and seamlessly convert to [NetApp's file system] WAFL," he adds. "We worked with NetApp engineers to enable control of snapshots within NetBackup.

Bare-metal restore
"NetBackup 6 can do client-based restore too, you don't have to have the application. Bare-metal restore [BMR] is very important - it means you don't worry about putting the operating system on, NetBackup takes care of it. It restores the whole system."

He adds that while BMR is incredibly important for system administrators, it is still compliance and archiving that are the big drivers for business - and that many are only just beginning to understand the interplay of the many many rules and regulations being imposed upon them, and how they affect backup as well as archiving.

For example, the ability to do privileged deletes - to delete data from the backup tapes as well as the archive - is vital if data protection rules require you to delete personal information after a specified time.

And he notes that attitudes to compliance differ by location too: "When we sell [Enterprise Vault] in the US, it's as a tool to address regulation and compliance. In Europe it's been to address storage efficiency, that's been changing in the last few years though."

Also changing is the technology involved, as archiving grows up and as new ideas come along. Future directions for Veritas include ways to provide easier access to stored information, whether reason it was stored for, according to Boorman.

"CDP - continuous data protection - is the new buzzword," he says. "It's the concept of when you make a change it is automatically moved to backup disk or tape. Plus a Google-like user interface for data retrieval. Work is going on as well to categorise email, both for storage and later searching."