Managed Backup Services is part of a plan Symantec CEO Enrique Salem talked about earlier this month at Storage Networking World to offer all products in the Symantec portfolio as services.
Symantec officials said NetBackup customers are less willing to let data out from behind their firewall than customers of its Backup Exec Windows backup product. However, NetBackup customers may not be so eager to pay consulting costs to hand over all on-site backup management to Symantec, either.
"With the new offering, we deliver some services on site while doing other tasks remotely, so it's the best of both worlds," said Grant Geyer, vice president of managed services for Symantec.
"The majority of failure incidents can be handled remotely," Geyer said.
The service would also provide daily reports on backup jobs. Symantec would send an employee out to the customer for tasks such as architectural or capacity planning that require a services engineer on-site, or break-fix that can't be accomplished remotely.
Remote monitoring through SaaS
Symantec isn't the first vendor to bring out these kinds of services. CommVault Systems Inc. also offers remote monitoring services on its Simpana backup software through SaaS. Dell Inc. has also been rolling out SaaS storage monitoring services.
Analysts say it can be tricky to tell which type of organization this service would benefit.
"It's a matter of efficiency, which is true of all outsourcing," said Adam Couture, principal analyst in the IT services group at Gartner Research. "If you're really good at it, and it's mission-critical in a large environment, it's probably going to be cheaper for you to do it yourself. But if you're not very good at it, it's not mission critical and you're not very large, it's going to be cheaper to outsource. Unfortunately, most everything falls into the gray area in between."
However, Couture pointed out that Symantec's hybrid approach to managed services might appeal to customers already paying vendors for residencies or live-in services engineers.
"It's an expensive situation," he said. IT departments might also turn to services to bridge the gap during budget and hiring freezes until the economy improves. "When you can't hire, this can be an effective alternative," Couture said.
Taneja Group founder and consulting analyst Arun Taneja said there are other factors besides cost for companies considering outsourcing.
"Even if the price is equal [to managing backups in-house], Symantec will have some takers among users with capital infrastructure already laid out because of the pain of managing backups," he said. "It's a nuisance for most IT shops."