Veritas has launched a faster, better NetBackup plus a Data Lifecycle Manager to aid regulatory compliance. In addition, CommandCentral Service delivers utility computing, for data protection services of course, but also for storage and server provisioning in the future (see news item).

Veritas' infrastructure ambitions are significant. It's got nearly half of the overall Unix and Windows backup market and is looking for significant revenue growth in the emerging data compliance and utility computing markets. Gary Bloom, Veritas chairman and CEO, commenting just on the compliance part, said, "We think this is an enormous opportunity around the world. The market can be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars."

NetBackup Version 5 can backup to disk with expected speed advantages. The disk backup set is trickled off to disk at comparative leisure. Synthetic restores are faster than general restores and combine small backup sets into one restore. A new Flash backup does better at backing up thousands of Windows files. And the files on desktops and notebook computers are brought into NetBackup's ambit through synchronisation features to server-based files. No additional notebook, desktop or server software is needed.

This sounds good but Novell's iFolder promised much the same safeguarding of notebook and desktop files. It failed. Why? Because, when push comes to shove the data on enterprise desktops and laptops is recoverable through re-input by the hapless user. Anything really sensitive is held on a server anyway. Enterprises wish they could secure their notebook and desktop data but haven't been willing to spend money or alter procedures to do it in the past, as Novell found out. Veritas may sell extra copies of NetBackup based on this feature but it's doubtful if many users will use it.

The compliance story is a good one, this writer thinks. It says you need to bring existing backed up files into the equation so that when you get that call from the regulatory authorities you can answer it faster and better. So Data LifeCycle Manager 5.0 (actually 1.0 since the former NetBackup Storage Monitor product has, according to executive VP product operations, Mark Bregman, "had so much new functionality added to it that it's a new product") indexes historical backup tapes and manages e-mail archiving. As a data life cycle management product it only moves data from media to media in a backed up state, like NetBackup on which it's based. Don't expect to use it to move less-used online files to cheaper disks, unless they are backed up first. The compliance story is strong, the lifecycle story less so.

Any content management-based lifecycle activity will be provided by Veritas partners. The product has a blind spot in this area which contrasts with EMC and its Documentum product-based content management. Bregman said, "We see content management as an application that sits above data services. It's something our partners will address." Veritas just does not have a core competency in this area and its data lifecycle offerings form the weakest part of the recent announcement.

CommandCentral Service 5.0 is the utility computing layer. This offers backup services as a utilty, with provision for reporting by user department or geographical office and the preparation of chargeback invoices. It's that IT department dream of revealing the value it offers by charging users for services. It's said that CommandCentral will provision storage, offer data protection services, provide cluster availability, provision servers and monitor and manage performance. Only the first two are here now. Veritas is preparing to offer a utility computing infrastructure layer that sits above hundreds or thousands of blade servers and storage servers inside an enterprise data centre, offering IT as a utility throughout the enterprise.

But it is, notwithstanding its stated ability to manage multiple vendor's NAS, SAN , tape, storage network switches and heterogeneous servers, not really open. Veritas is building a homogeneous, all-Veritas software layer that locks users in. It also collides with other emerging infrastructure layers; Oracle's 10g software stack, IBM's on-demand Storage Tank-based products and EMC's emerging stack. There are no standards in this area and users should tread carefully and wait before committing themselves to one vendor's infrastructure.