As part of a move into datacentre management, anti-virus company Symantec has introduced a new software category, Storage United, which the company claims will simplify storage management. Storage United is designed to smooth over the differences in the total storage overhead of a mixed network, improve storage efficiency and generate storage reports that communicate with business users in their own terms.
Symantec is using the buzzphrase “storage as a service”, a concept that has been around for some years from smaller and more specialist vendors, but which is achieving more traction as larger providers such as EMC are beginning to take up the idea.
Storage United, announced at Symantec’s Vision 2007 conference in Las Vegas this month, claims to tackle what the company says are the three problems of storage management — the platform problem, the administration problem and the business problem.
The Storage United strategy, Symantec says, provides “a comprehensive layer of data protection, storage management and archiving software that supports every major server and storage system in the data centre,” replacing hardware specific management software with a consistent hardware-neutral framework.
By providing visibility of the entire storage resource in graphical form, Storage United eases the administration problems arising from the silos which have historically grown up in many organisations each using separate storage. This in turn helps the business implement processes to improve storage efficiency, remove duplicate data and align storage service delivery to business requirements.
“If you have a standard way of delivering storage and storage services to the enterprise you make fewer errors and use fewer tools” and have less demand for staff with a variety of special skills, says product marketing senior director Matt Fairbanks.
The first practical manifestation of the Storage United strategy is NetBackup 6.5, a storage management application also launched at the Vision conference. Its uniform management of networked storage reaches even into virtualised environments. “NetBackup can connect to a virtual information server to see what VMware instances are out there and you can command it to back up these dozen, or these 1000 virtual systems,” says Fairbanks.
Also in the pipeline are upgrades of other storage products Symantec acquired from its takeover of Veritas which will be released under the Storage United framework.
Fairbanks argues that as a pure software company, Symantec is more credible as a storage-as-a-service provider than some of its competitors who sell storage hardware.
“We don’t have a dog in the hardware hunt,” he says.