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Symantec extends integrated backup appliance strategy

Symantec doubles down on its backup appliance plans, putting NetBackup 7.5 and Backup Exec 2012 on appliances with dedupe software and media servers.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Symantec Corp. will try to give its integrated backup appliances a big push at Symantec Vision 2012 which begins today. Symantec will upgrade NetBackup and Backup Exec appliances with the latest versions of the backup applications, and emphasize its “dedupe everywhere” backup strategy.

Symantec first launched its NetBackup 5220 enterprise appliance and Backup Exec 3660 appliance for SMBs last August, but brought out new versions of NetBackup and Backup Exec this year. The NetBackup 5220 is a 2U appliance that now includes NetBackup 7.5 and scales to 72 TB of usable capacity. Backup Exec 3600 includes Backup Exec 2012. The appliance is a 1U box with 5.5 TB of usable capacity. The appliances combine client and target deduplication, a media server and backup software in one box.

The Backup Exec 3600 appliance is available today and the NetBackup 5220 box will be generally available June 4.  Backup Exec 3600 costs $15,995 for the Essential Protection Suite and $25,995 for the Total Protection Suite, which includes an NDMP, library expansion and enterprise server options and a remote agent for Linux. NetBackup 5220 is priced by capacity, starting at about $23,000 for 4 TB.

“This is how we’re trying to transform backup,” said Peter Elliman, senior manager of Symantec’s information management group. “Our all-in-one appliance differentiates us from most of our competitors, especially at the enterprise level. Backup appliances have traditionally been dedupe appliances. The more you can integrate the target device with the dedupe app and move dedupe up front, the better off you are.”

In discussing Symantec’s disappointing first quarter of 2012, CEO Enrique Salem last week held out backup appliances as one of the highlights for the company. Overall, Symantec’s backup revenue dropped three percent from the previous year but Salem said integrated appliances give the vendor an edge.

“Previously, what we were doing was we were selling the backup software and our customers were using other people's media server and other people's data deduplication technology,” Salem said on the Symantec earnings call. “So really, this is an opportunity to sell appliances that, I believe, are differentiated because no one else can integrate these three pieces the way we have in one device.”

IDC analyst Robert Amatruda said Symantec is accelerating the appliance strategy that began in early 2011.

“Appliances for Symantec aren’t new but they’re providing more scale in terms of capacity and performance,” he said. “They’re in it with two feet.”

Amatruda said IDC now breaks backup appliances into two segments. The first is target appliances such as EMC Data Domain, IBM ProtectTier and Quantum DXi that require third-party software for catalog, indexing, data movement and scheduling. Symantec appliances fall into the smaller and newer segment of integrated systems that build in indexing, cataloging, data movement and scheduling. The main rival to Symantec in that category is EMC Avamar Data Store.

According to IDC, Symantec had 3.5% of the overall backup appliance revenue in 2011, its first year in the appliance market. It is fourth in backup appliance revenue behind EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Amatruda said integrated systems are likely to appeal more to customers looking for virtual machine backup or remote site backup.

EMC questions Symantec’s expertise with hardware because the software is the vendor’s legacy going back to the days of Veritas before it was acquired by Symantec. Amatruda said he doesn’t think that is a big concern for customers, though. “It’s more about easy integration and cost. I don’t think it has anything to do with a company having a history in hardware or software,” he said.

Symantec has changed its hardware partner for appliances after dissolving its business partnership with Huawei Technologies. It now uses hardware from NEI, which is also an EMC hardware partner for Avamar appliances.

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