Symantec today unveiled a major overhaul of its data backup and data recovery offerings, including a new set of tools to help SMBs handle virtualized environments and to simplify what can be a frustratingly complex IT challenge.
With today's release, Symantec brings to market the Backup Exec 2012 product portfolio, a refresh of the 2010 version that now includes a comprehensive small business edition, as well as a lightweight, all-cloud backup solution geared for home offices, remote workers and other small-scale operations. Additionally, Symantec is rolling out the V-Ray backup product geared for users operating in environments that are almost entirely virtualized.
Symantec bills the revamp of its portfolio as a solution to the growing fragmentation that has vendors pushing distinct solutions to address tape, disk, deduplication and other backup and recovery issues, creating a "montage of backup solutions," according to Monica Girolami, Symantec's director of SMB marketing.
The advent of virtualization has only further complicated matters, as many businesses have settled into a model where the virtual and physical environments are set up as walled gardens in the context of backup and recovery.
"The challenge [with virtualization] is it becomes a whole new infrastructure to back up, and many people are starting to look at that and taking this silo approach," Girolami said. "You don't have to have six or seven disparate backup solutions to solve your backup challenges."
With Backup Exec 2012, Symantec seeks to unify the virtual and physical environments and supplant the multitude of point products many businesses currently maintain. Powered by the firm's V-Ray technology, the new version of Backup Exec provides universal visibility across VMware, Hyper-V and physical machines.
Additionally, the product offers a single file recovery solution, as well as unified deduplication and backup management. By deduplicating everywhere in one process, rather than undertaking separate steps for physical and virtual machines, Symantec boasts that its latest backup solution can reduce storage volume by as much as 90 percent.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication here," Girolami said. "Our goal when we look at this [is to ask], is there a way to be the universal remote?"
The new small business data backup offerings come in response to what Symantec sees as a major shortfall in backup and data protection across the market. In its 2011 SMB disaster preparedness survey, Symantec found that half of all respondents don't have a disaster recovery plan in place, while 41 percent said that they had never even thought about putting together a plan.
"Where are our small and midsize businesses struggling today?" Girolami said "They're not even backing up on a regular basis. They're not protecting their information."
The firm estimates that 44 percent of small businesses would lose at least 40 percent of their data in the event of a disaster. Meantime, Symantec pegs the median cost of downtime for an SMB at $12,500 per day.
Small business leaders offer many explanations for their lax approach to backup, with many expressing the view that the solutions available are either too complex or expensive, while others assumed that their data was automatically backed up, and still others said that they didn't consider their information critical to their business.
Small Business Data Backup
Symantec sees it differently.
"Your data is your business," Girolami said. "Losing all of that and not being able to recover it in many instances could put you out of business."
In that spirit, Symantec has redesigned the interface of its Backup Exec products to provide for simpler management. The new user interface has been retooled to focus on resources, rather than individual jobs, so the experience is built around server protection status.
Symantec has also boiled down the selection of policies for individual resources to a wizard-based process that produces a recommended stance, while still allowing users to set their own policies manually. Girolami explained that in its consultations with customers, Symantec found that many did not have the appropriate policies in place, often resulting in slow performance and recovery speeds.
Symantec boasts that SMBs can implement the Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition in three steps, or around 10 minutes. "The story that we tell to the small business is we want to deliver to you a solution that is easy," Girolami said. "Backup needs to be simple and easy, and it can be something that you or your IT administrator can set and move on."
In addition to handling virtual and physical machines, the small business edition of the new Backup Exec bundles licenses for an array of applications such as Active Directory and provides support for the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Backup Exec Small Business Edition, which covers deployments of up to three servers, is slated for general availability March 5.
For smaller-scale users, Symantec formally announces its Backup Exec.cloud, a cloud-based backup solution that the firm quietly rolled out in October. Geared for remote workers, home offices or smaller businesses, Backup Exec.cloud entails no on-site footprint, which means that backup and recovery speeds are dictated by the user's broadband connectivity.
"With a cloud-based and hosted solution there is a little bit of a long-term limitation that you need to be aware of," Girolami said.
Unlike the small business edition of the on-premises Backup Exec, Backup Exec.cloud offers both desktop and server support, though it is only compatible with Windows systems, and does not support VMware or Hyper-V machines. Girolami said that the cloud-based solution will likely eventually support Mac environments, though there is no firm timetable for that enhancement.
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. You can find Kenneth on LinkedIn.
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