Symantec today launched Backup Exec 15, with support for the newest versions of VMware hypervisors and storage applications.
The rollout comes 10 months after Backup Exec 2014, as Symantec tries to rehabilitate the brand for its SMB backup software. Symantec ran into trouble with Backup Exec 2012 after it changed the interface and workflow processes, and was slow with support for popular applications. The vendor returned its popular Job Monitor feature in Backup Exec 2014 while adding support for the latest Microsoft applications. The release of Backup Exec 15 comes less than one month after VMware rolled out its latest round of vSphere upgrades.
Symantec is in the process of spinning off its backup software and storage products into a separate company that will be known as Veritas, the company that Symantec acquired in 2005.
"We're following quickly in the footsteps of BE 2014," said Erica Antony, Symantec senior director of product management for backup and recovery. "This release is driven by support for the latest VMware release. We know it's been important for our customer base to have timely support for key platforms and applications that they're running, so we wanted to make sure we were there. We want to be part of the Day 1 experience for our customers."
Antony said Symantec had more than 1,000 users in its beta program for the release ahead of today's general availability. The vendor also pledges to upgrade Backup Exec more frequently, with quarterly maintenance and service pack releases. "Customers can expect us to have a constant trickle of capabilities coming out," she said.
Backup Exec 15 supports VMware ESXi 6 and vCenter 6, VMware Virtual SAN 6, and Virtual Volumes, all of which became generally available from VMware in mid-March. Backup Exec 15 also has enhanced virtual machine capabilities with support for SAN restores, virtual machines with more than 2 TB volumes, and SATA and GPT (GUID Partition Table) disk.
Symantec also added a storage gateway to move Backup Exec 15 backup jobs to Amazon Web Services and a Capacity Edition Lite licensing model. The Lite license model includes physical and virtual protection for VMware and Microsoft applications, Windows servers and Hyper-V in a reduced per TB licensing model. The legacy Backup Exec Capacity Edition license provides the full features of Backup Exec including data deduplication for a higher per TB rate. Capacity Edition Lite pricing starts at $2,235 per TB for new customers and $529 per TB for upgrading customers on active maintenance.
SAN restores allows customers to restore virtual machines directly from backup to production over the SAN for faster recovery times. Veeam Software first made the feature (called Instant Recovery) popular, and other virtual backup applications have followed, including Symantec's NetBackup enterprise backup application.
While it is unusual for a backup application to have a full version upgrade around support for one vendor's applications, Gartner storage analyst Dave Russell said Symantec is trying to show that their Backup Exec problems are behind them.
"It's a solid incremental release. This release is designed to make sure they don't get into situations like in the past where they didn't support the latest operating systems, hypervisors or applications, and had self-induced challenges in terms of usability and upgrade paths," Russell said.
"It doesn't feel like a version change. It looks more like they wanted to re-base, move away from BE 2012 and say, 'Here's our go-forward product.' It's all about wanting to restore things and establish a new cadence and 'We promise you we'll have a new release every quarter.'"
It remains to be seen how big of a recovery Symantec/Veritas can make with Backup Exec 15. While many unhappy customers stuck with the product -- including those who never upgraded from Backup Exec 2010 -- others were lured away by one of the many vendors who jumped into the SMB backup market to take advantage of Symantec's problems. Those include CA-spinout Arcserve, Dell AppAssure, EVault, Zetta, Unitrends, Datto and Infrascale.
"They've all jumped on BackupExec," Russell said. "There has been attrition, no doubt about that. But there is also a sizeable number that said, 'We stayed on BE 2010. We'll hang here for a while and ride this out.'"
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