Kris Hagerman is group president of Symantec’s data center management Group, and is responsible for all of Symantec’s enterprise backup, and storage, server and application management software. That is almost the entire portfolio of products offered by Veritas Software before Veritas merged wth Symantec.
Q: When Symantec and Veritas merged two years ago, they said that storage and security technologies were converging. How much integration has there been between Symantec and Veritas products?
A: Where it makes sense, we’ve done it. For example, we’ve integrated components of our [formerly Veritas] Enterprise Vault email archiving and discovery product with the compliance offering from Symantec, Compliance Control Suite.
The idea was to create a more comprehensive package that allows you take key Windows applications and make sure that they are secure, archived and discoverable, and in compliance.
In another area we’ve taken elements of Veritas technology that look at the underlying file system, and incorporated them into our anti-virus engines, to prevent what are called root-kit violations. We [Veritas] had a very effective way of scanning the file system to look for changes, but we’d never used it for security purposes because we weren’t in the security business.
There’s a bunch of other examples where we’re merging the worlds of security and storage in new products, as opposed to taking stuff off the shelves from Symantec and off the shelves from Veritas.
A great example of that is this Media Server encryption option for NetBackup. PureDisk [a backup tool tool based on Veritas-owned software] also does full encryption of the data the minute it leaves the server.
Q: Was that encryption feature for PureDisk written by Symantec?
A: No. That’s my point. The whole idea of Symantec and Veritas coming together was not to jam a whole bunch of products off the shelf from Symantec and Veritas. We said that the worlds of storage and security are coming together, and that there will be opportunities to bring some things together.
Q: What benefits have customers seen from the merger?
A: A big part of it is just scale. Most enterprise customers want to deal with fewer vendors. It makes life simpler and they have more accountability and a chance to develop a more strategic relationship with a smaller number of players. Certainly a big part of why Symantec and Veritas came together was to deliver the kind of scale that enterprises are going to demand in terms of support infrastructure, the breadth of products they can deliver, and the ability to put some of these different solutions together.
We also created something that we felt was truly advantageous to our customers, which was the world’s leading software infrastructure company. Bringing together storage and security was a smart thing to do.
Q: How big will Symantec need to be to survive in the coming consolidated IT world?
A: We’re the fourth largest software company in the world, and we’ve got 18,000 employees. Our CEO John Thompson would say that we clearly intend to be one of the tall trees left standing. Will we continue to do acquisitions? Sure, but I don’t think we need to another one the size of Veritas to ensure that we remain relevant.
Q: Some analysts say that as VMware develops into a full platform, it could become a threat to Symantec’s storage software business. What’s your position?
A: We intend to deliver infrastructure software that is the very best of breed on every single major virtual machine platform. A good example of that is that we’re the only vendor in the industry that does granular file level recovery for VMware environments, and we just announced support for clustering of physical-to-physical, physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual machines.
You’ll continue to see us deliver advanced support for VMware, but we’ll also support the other virtual machine platforms. We made an announcement around the XenSource platform, and we’ll support the major virtual machine platforms from Sun, IBM, HP and from Microsoft when it emerges.
Over the next few years just about every enterprise server will be virtualized in some fashion. Virtual machines provide an extraordinary amount of new capability which is terrific, but they’re a double edged tool. They force customers to manage more entities – instead of managing n physical devices they’re now managing n times 2 or n times five or n times ten total virtual and physical entities.
Now you’ve not only got more devices, you also have a whole set of alternatives in terms of the virtual machine platform itself. Solaris has three or four different flavors of virtualization. HP-UX I think has five, IBM has four for AIX, and then there’s VMware, Xensource, and soon Veridian for Windows, and there’s half a dozen on Linux.
Q: Aren’t customers using VMware to consolidate applications onto fewer servers?
A: Different enterprises are taking different approaches. Some are consolidating and scaling up, some are continuing to scaled out, carving up individual scaled-out boxes to make better utilization of them.
Q: So VMware is not a threat?
A: I think VMware has capabilities that certainly have an impact on customers’ high-availability and storage environments. So certainly VMware has some impact on us — some of it positive and some of it negative. But I don’t view VMware as a direct competitor.
Q: Before the merger, Veritas had laid out a plan to create utility computing server and storage management systems, which would automatically allocate hardware resources to application on the fly. What happened to that plan?
A: We’re delivering it. We made an announcement in December last year around the concept of comprehensive data center automation, which started with server-centric tasks that companies like BladeLogic and Opsware deliver – things like provisioning and patching, configuration management, tracking and billing – which is part of what we acquired from Ejasent – and then we talked about the ability to link that storage and to link that to the application.
We call this Server Foundation, and it helps automate data centers, particularly in the server area. You can take a whole set of servers on a distributed farm and provision and patch them, understand what’s running on them, and see the dependency of applications on servers.
Q: Are you still going to automate the allocation of new servers to an application when its performance has dropped below a certain threshold?
A: That was something we demonstrated to show some of the different ways you could use these inter-locking technologies. The technology you’re talking about is Veritas application director and what that does is allow you to place and control applications running on a distributed group of servers. That’s exactly what it does. We’re integrating that with server management.
Q: Won’t customers prefer use VMware’s software to handle the movement of applications between servers?
A: Only for part of that movement. Some of these things VMware doesn’t do. More importantly VMware doesn’t link to storage, and it can’t cut across multiple different operating systems. And it can’t do this for physical systems and virtual systems.
VMware requires you to run the VMware hypervisor. We don’t require to you run any type of hypervisor. If you want to just run on physical boxes, that’s fine by us. And if you want to run on VMware or any of the other virtual machine hypervisors, that’s also fine by us.
Q: Would Veritas have bought VMware if it could?
A: For a company that was bought for $600m and went public for around $10bn, if you asked Shell Oil they would probably say yes to that question.
Q: [Veritas’ Ejasent-originated server software does not support Windows.] Do you think EMC bought VMware to keep it out of Veritas’ hands?
A: I’m not going to comment on the sentiment that EMC had. I have no idea what they were.
Q: Symantec has just begun shipping a version of its NetBackup backup management software that incorporates an option to de-duplicate backup data. Do you think the option will be popular?
A: It’ll be huge. Our PureDisk customers routinely see data de-duplication rates of 50 to 500x, depending on what backup approach they take. I don’t care who you are or what kind of deals you get on hardware, you sure as heck don’t want 50 to 500 duplicate copies running around, duplicates that don’t help you one iota in protecting your data.
Q: Will de-dupe accelerate the demise of tape backup?
A: I think it’s quite unlikely that in the near term you’re going to see many enterprises go to all disk, just as I think it’s quite unlikely that many will stay all tape. You’ll see a mix. Certainly we believe that you’ll see a growing share of data protection associated with disk, but we don’t see tape going away any time soon.
Data protection and recovery is not something that can [be allowed to] go wrong – it has to work. And tape has worked for many of these customers really well, so I think that although virtually every one of our customers is excited about exploring these new [disk-based backup] technologies, very few of them are leaping off the building in a single jump.
Q: Much of Veritas’ revenue came from the sale of tape management software. How will Symantec deal with the transition from tape to disk-based backup?
A: We intended to be the leader in data protection and recovery across any media type. We don’t care whether customers choose tape or disk or any technologies that will exist going forward. Whatever platform they choose, our data protection and recovery approach will fully support it. That’s exactly what NetBackup 6.5 was about – taking support for tape and extending it to all of these new technologies.
Hagerman joined Symantec through the merger with Veritas. Before joining Veritas, he was founder and CEO at Affinia, a supplier of a contextual merchandising platform, and the founder and CEO of BigBook, an Internet yellow pages service acquired by GTE in 1998. He has also held posts at Silicon Graphics Computer Systems, Odyssey Research, McKinsey & Company, and Morgan Stanley. He holds an MBA from Stanford, a master’s degree in international relations from Cambridge University, and bachelor’s degree in Russian and economics from Dartmouth College.