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Symantec improves virtual machine backup in Backup Exec 2010

At its Symantec Vision user conference, Symantec launches Backup Exec 2010 R3, including a new appliance and hosted cloud backup service, and emphasizes virtual machine backup.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Symantec Corp. upgraded its Backup Exec 2010 backup application for Windows environments today, improving its performance for virtual machine backup while adding appliance and cloud versions for remote offices.

Also at its Symantec Vision user show, the vendor emphasized its ability to handle virtual environments across its product lines and said it plans to beef up storage management with a new application called Veritas Operations Manager Advanced.

With Backup Exec 2010 R3, Symantec optimized the way the application uses data deduplication to back up virtual machines. Users no longer have to put agents on each guest machine to get dedupe across all virtual machines. Symantec also made its Backup Exec Management Plug-in for VMware part of its standard agent, allowing it to be managed through vCenter. Backup Exec 2010 R3 also includes a full SSL security layer between agents and Backup Exec servers, and integration of Backup Exec and Symantec’s Enterprise Vault data archiving application.

Symantec also continued down the appliance path after placing versions of its NetBackup enterprise backup application and FileStor network-attached storage on appliances in recent months. The Backup Exec appliance holds 6 TB of usable storage with RAID 6. Symantec positions the appliance as backup for remote offices with no dedicated IT staff.

Symantec senior director of product marketing Sean Regan said there has been rapid adoption of the NetBackup appliance, and he sees the appliance route as a good fit for the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) and small enterprise markets that Backup Exec serves.

“Putting software in an appliance is really appealing to the SMB,” he said. “Some people don’t want to deal with backup on a client.”

The new cloud backup service, Backup, is aimed at SMBs and remote offices, and uses a Symantec hosted cloud. Backup Exec appliance and Backup will be available in the second half of this year. Symantec has not yet made its subscription cloud pricing public.

Symantec also beefed up Net Backup’s archiving features by adding an agent for for Enterprise Vault Backup Exec 2010. The agent supports Enterprise Vault 10 backup, recovery and migration, and the Backup Exec Option for Exchange includes a Virtual Vault that lets customers access archived emails directly from Outlook.

Virtual machine backup visibility

Symantec is using Vision to play up its ability to protect virtual machines. Executives are talking about something they call V-Ray, described on Symantec’s Backup & Archiving Community blog as “our ability to provide unique insight into virtual environments for both storage and security.” But V-Ray isn’t new technology—Symantec said its capabilities are already built into Backup Exec and NetBackup. For example, the ability to go into a virtual server and pull a single file off the machine without needing to mount the file is part of V-Ray’s functionality.

“It’s like an X-ray,” Regan said. “Instead of looking at two separate lenses, it gives visibility across physical and virtual machines. I can see files in virtual machines just as well as physical machines. [Symantec] has a strong capability of looking into the file system in physical machines. No one else has that level of expertise. We are applying that to virtual machines.”

Advanced management for storage services

Symantec also said it would launch Veritas Operations Manager Advanced 4.0, an enhanced version of its Veritas Operations Manager 4.0. While VOM is a free application for managing Storage Foundation and Cluster Server, VOM Advanced will cost $995 per managed host. VOM Advanced is expected this summer.

Symantec says VOM Advanced will provide deeper reporting than VOM, showing interdependencies between virtual and physical servers. Features such as on-host storage provisioning, policy-driven tiering, and storage usage and chargeback reporting for multi-vendor systems can help IT departments deliver storage as a service, and enable private cloud storage.

“What we are seeing is a lot of people adapting virtualization in the data center,” said Eric Sheppard, IDC’s research director for storage software. “Many did not understand the full impact of virtualization on storage. They are having a lot of trouble with I/O issues. They are spending more time troubleshooting capacity and I/O issues. This product can help them get visibility and automate action.”

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