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Symantec Goes Virtual With Servers, Storage

Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) hopes to eliminate management headaches tied to server virtualization and storage management with the introduction of the Veritas Virtual Infrastructure.

The Virtual Infrastructure is aligned with the vendor's strategy to provide true data protection that benefits the enterprise, according to Marty Ward, director of product marketing for Symantec's Data Protection Group.

It also represents the security vendor's big step into the virtualization marketplace, an industry already bursting with contenders and competitors. Symantec acquired Veritas in July 2005.

As one analyst noted, integrating virtualization and storage technologies is a smart move for enterprises, given that virtual server environments rely on networked storage and virtual machines are stored as files in a storage system.

The challenge is the lack of management tools, said Bob Laliberte, an analyst, with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

"It has taken a long time to just to be able to effectively manage physical environments, never mind abstracted virtual environments," Laliberte told InternetNews.com. "Like any new technology, management tools to support the environment tend to come along a little later."

A recent ESG global survey reported that organizations deploying server virtualization are likely to deploy storage virtualization as well. Of 332 respondents who had already deployed server virtualization, 24 percent have also deployed storage virtualization, and another 33 percent plan to in the next year to two years.

For enterprises that had deployed storage virtualization, 45 percent had specifically implemented storage virtualization to complement a server virtualization initiative, the ESG report stated.

The Veritas Virtual Infrastructure uses a client-server architecture to create a connection between each virtual server and underlying storage, just as in a physical storage realm.

The tool provides storage-management capabilities from Veritas Storage Foundation and Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS) XenServer virtualization technology via a single console. It allows SAN multipathing for data availability, and all block storage functionality, including mirroring in heterogeneous environments.

The open architecture of XenServer lets enterprises reduce storage costs by using common, shared boot images across multiple virtual servers, and increases utilization using simplified provisioning, according to Symantec. The company says current tools prevent virtual servers from directly managing storage.

Citrix is just the first virtualization partner for Symantec. The vendor is working with HP, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, RedHat, Sun and VMware to leverage its offering across those virtualization platforms.

"I think IT will definitely be interested in a solution like this," Laliberte said, adding that while other storage management products support virtualization, none have taken the steps to fully integrate the technology.

"I think that this product gets really interesting when you consider the array of other software products that could be integrated with XenServer like its backup and security," said the analyst.

"Incorporating these technologies could potentially create an opportunity for Symantec and Citrix to leapfrog the current market leaders and deliver industry-leading functionality," he added.

Yet Symantec's market success will be tied to two big challenges: the ability of the security vendor to get branded as a virtualization player and educating enterprises on why virtualization-storage deployments is a beneficial scenario.

"We expect early wins to come from existing Symantec strongholds in its Veritas installed base," Laliberte said. "But the true measure of success will be in the number of new customers they can attract to VxVI solution."

Pricing for the Virtual Infrastructure starts at $4,595 per two-socket server, and it will be available by year's end.