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Backup 2012: Backup Exec woes, appliances rise, Dell's 'Quest'

Backup 2012: Symantec paid for Backup Exec changes, integrated appliances gained traction, Dell bought Quest, and the cloud had DR covered.

Symantec learned a powerful lesson in 2012: Don't mess with the user interface of a popular backup product unless you are sure your customers want change. The vendor released Backup Exec 2012 early in the year, and is still digging out of the resulting mess as the year closes. The perils of Backup Exec were all over the backup news in 2012.

Dell and Hewlett-Packard extended their reach in data protection in 2012. So did the cloud -- especially in regards to disaster recovery (DR) and end-point device backup. And integrated backup appliances that replace the need for media servers and backup targets also gained a foothold.

Customers tell Symantec: Don't mess with Backup Exec

In an attempt to bring customers "into the 21st century," Symantec made sweeping changes to the user interface in Backup Exec 2012. Its product management team was stunned by the reaction of longtime users, who preferred to stay back in the 20th century if that meant keeping their Job Monitor view and multi-server backup jobs.

A forum on the Symantec Connect Community website devoted to the upgrade was filled with user complaints about the interface and other issues. There were also threads of unhappy users in a Spiceworks Community forum and on Twitter. When Symantec switched CEOs from Enrique Salem to Stephen Bennett in July, executives cited fixing Backup Exec 2012 as one of the vendor's key challenges.

Salem and other Symantec execs initially defended the changes, but eventually gave in. Symantec flew some of its most unhappy users to a sit-down in Florida to explain changes it planned to make, and is rolling out those changes in a series of service packs. But you can expect the backup software giant to put a lot more thought into changing its user interfaces and features in future upgrades.

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Integrated appliances replace media servers

Symantec also accelerated its push to put its software on an appliance that alleviates the need for separate media servers and disk targets in 2012. Symantec's latest versions of NetBackup and Backup Exec on appliances are picking up steam, and other vendors are following Symantec's lead.

Dell expanded its integrated appliance portfolio, adding one with AppAssure software while upgrading its appliance that uses partner CommVault's Simpana software. Others in the growing market include Arkeia, StorServer, Tandberg Data, Revinetix and Unitrends.

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Dell becomes a backup vendor

Dell's acquisition of SMB software vendor AppAssure in February provided a hint of a larger push into the backup market. Dell dropped $2.4 billion on Quest Software later in 2012, giving it a wide set of networking, storage and backup applications, including vRanger virtual machine backup and the NetVault family of physical backup tools.

Dell also shipped its first data deduplication backup device, the DR4000, in January, and expanded its partnership with CommVault to sell CommVault's Simpana on Dell integrated appliances in November.

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Cloud covers DR market

The cloud became dominant in DR in 2012. The year was filled with new services, new features for old products and a new awareness for companies about how the cloud can enable quick failover and recovery. Quantum added its Q-Cloud backup and DR cloud services; and EVault, Zetta and Quorum were among the vendors that upgraded their cloud DR offerings.

Pure backup/data replication players also extended cloud features, as service provider backup specialist Asigra rolled out a major upgrade of its Cloud Backup, SMB cloud backup service provider Carbonite acquired Zmanda so it can back up databases to the cloud, and Zerto integrated its Virtual Replication with VMware vCloud Director for centralized management and automated failover. The cloud is also playing a larger role in backing up end-point devices as companies struggle to find a way to cope with all the new sources of data their users are bringing to work.

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Hewlett-Packard discovers backup dedupe

Outside of 3PAR arrays, the one HP storage product you hear HP's non-storage execs talk about is StoreOnce. That software has been around for a couple of years, but HP put it on a new scale-out enterprise disk system, and extended the dedupe algorithm to its Data Protector backup app early this year. In mid-2012, it added StoreOnce Catalyst software that enables deduplication at the application and backup servers. Admittedly late to the game, HP calls its StoreOnce technology "Dedupe 2.0" because it claims to fix problems from early dedupe products.

But by being so late, HP has ceded EMC a huge lead with its Data Domain dedupe appliances and finds itself in catch-up mode.

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