After years of false starts, the online storage market is suddenly for real. Vendors such as Dell, IBM, EMC and Google have been gobbling up online vendors faster than you can say "software as a service."
Symantec Corp. entered the fray today. But rather than go the acquisition route, the security and disaster recovery company announced its own services: Symantec Online Backup and Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) storage offerings are designed to provide hosted data storage and disaster recovery services for small and mid-sized businesses.
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The new online storage services fall under the Symantec Protection Network. According to Kevin Murray, senior director of product marketing at Symantec, Symantec Protection Network is designed to provide a suite of IT infrastructure technologies that share a common user interface. For example, customers can use a single portal for registration, consolidated billing and customer support model.
The online storage services are just the first of many services to come, Murray said. "There will be other things coming after this," he said. However, he wouldn't elaborate on what those services would entail.
Symantec Online Backup is designed to allow smaller businesses to store and manage data in Symantec-operated data centers. Pricing starts at $25 a month for 5GB of storage. Because Symantec Online Backup requires no up-front investment in hardware or software, Murray said it's well-suited for small businesses that may not be currently performing regular backups.
Subscribers to Symantec Online Backup will, according to Symantec, have the flexibility to browse their data files, manage their protection settings and initiate restores from anywhere via an easy-to-use web browser interface over the Internet.
Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec is integrated as its name implies with the Backup Exec 12 Windows data protection software, with the goal of creating a hybrid software-as-a-service solution. Backup Exec customers can now protect their data both onsite and offsite. For example, Murray said, businesses can use a single offering to back up and store data onsite with tape or disk and also store a copy of their data online for disaster recovery. This has the potential to help businesses address the challenges of tape proliferation and onsite and offsite tape management. Pricing starts at $38 for 10GB of storage.
Ready for Windows 2008
Symantec also announced that Symantec Backup Exec 12 and Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 8 are now optimized and certified for Microsoft Windows Server 2008. Overall, the company said that more than 20 products under the Symantec Solutions for Windows umbrella will be supported on the new operating system.
The goal of Symantec Solutions for Windows portfolio, according Murray, is to bring together key Symantec endpoint security, storage management, backup and recovery, archiving and policy compliance technologies.
In addition to support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Backup Exec 12 now integrates with Symantec's ThreatCon global security alerting system ("If ThreatCon changes, frequency of backup changes," Murray said), Enterprise Vault to protect e-mail archives and the new Symantec Protection Network for accessing offsite storage. The company claims that Backup Exec 12 also introduces faster backup and restore of Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory and SharePoint environments as well as support for non-Microsoft environments.
Backup Exec System Recovery 8 now features flexible offsite protection and enhanced recovery capabilities and integration with Symantec security and systems management solutions, according to the company. Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 8 supports Symantec ThreatCon and Altiris Notification Server and also offers onsite and offsite backups and enhanced granular recovery capabilities, including recovery to dissimilar hardware or virtual environments.
Symantec said that Backup Exec System Recovery 8 now allows administrators to automatically copy recovery points to a remote server using FTP or to an external hard drive or network share. A new Granular Restore Option is designed to let organizations recover Microsoft Exchange mailboxes, folders, messages and attachments; individual Microsoft SharePoint documents; and individual files or folders in minutes from a single, multi-tab interface.
As with Backup Exec 12, Backup Exec System Recovery 8 also includes integration with Symantec's ThreatCon global security alerting system to enable system recovery points to be captured immediately and automatically in the event of an elevated Internet ThreatCon level.
Finally, also new with Backup Exec System Recovery 8 is Restore Anyware technology for dissimilar hardware and physical-to-virtual restoration. Backup Exec System Recovery 8 taps virtualization technology to offer physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical conversions to VMware ESX Server, VMware Server, VMware Workstation and Microsoft Virtual Server formats.