The Future Microsoft of Storage?

Almost every Solaris system administrator knows about VERITAS. The company's Foundation Suite software is part of the essential toolkit for storage configuration on that platform. VERITAS isn't as well known on the Windows platform, but that situation is changing rapidly. Last year, VERITAS acquired many of Seagate's software assets and essentially doubled in size. Currently a $1-billon company with about 5000 employees, VERITAS is growing at the rate of about 50 people a week. In a few months, VERITAS will move to a couple of new campuses in Sunnyvale, California; apparently, the company will need the room.

VERITAS has contributed more to Windows 2000 than you might imagine. The company wrote important parts of the Windows file system, contributed elements of the Volume Manager software (VxVM, a light version of the Microsoft Management Console—MMC—snap-in that all Windows system administrators use), and—through its acquisition of Seagate's software assets—added Windows Backup (a light version of Backup Express). VERITAS sells big-daddy versions of these software packages. (Preliminary results in our readership survey tell us that VERITAS's network backup program, NetBackup, has apparently doubled its market share among Storage UPDATE readers.) Unfortunately, a Windows version of VERITAS's flagship product—the VERITAS File System (VxFS)—isn't available. Microsoft has seen to it that the Windows file system remains proprietary.

VERITAS would like to have VxFS run on Windows. Paul Borrill, VERITAS vice president and Chief Technical Officer (CTO), said in a recent interview that VERITAS has the code for VxFS in a form that could become a Windows product, but the company's license with Microsoft keeps it from creating the product. Borrill believes that VxFS for Windows could help Microsoft's enterprise products such as Win2K Datacenter Server develop the kind of reputation for stability and reliability that Solaris has achieved.

VERITAS might one day dominate the storage software space—becoming the storage industry's version of Microsoft. The two companies' business approaches are somewhat similar. VERITAS focuses on software and is platform agnostic. At the moment, Solaris is its major platform, but Windows is catching up, and the company plans to expand its offerings to both Linux and HP-UX. VERITAS partners with many companies in the industry; you'd be hard pressed to find an industry organization that VERITAS doesn't represent or a new product or product initiative with which VERITAS isn't connected.

VERITAS has much in common with Microsoft. VERITAS is growing through a combination of acquisition and aggressive product introductions. Frank Artale, who ran the Windows business unit at Microsoft, has remarked (as have many others both inside and outside the company) that working at VERITAS reminds him of working at Microsoft 8 years ago. About 250 sales and engineering people now fill what was a nearly empty office in Redmond when Artale joined VERITAS last year. And VERITAS has "trajectory": The company has a vision, is executing numerous product introductions with dispatch, is acquiring what it can't build, and has a sense of destiny. Sound familiar?

Some key factors set VERITAS apart. VERITAS is developing multiple products that leverage its current stable of storage software. For example, SANPoint Control is a software console that lets you automatically discover and manage elements of a Storage Area Network (SAN). VERITAS built a $100-million interoperability lab to test SANPoint Control and all its products. Other players have SAN consoles, but because VERITAS's SANpoint works with so many hardware vendors' offerings, SANPoint Control can do more—and it leverages other VERITAS products. The company is also willing to compete head-to-head against the best in the industry on big projects.

In addition, VERITAS pays attention to detail. SANPoint Control, for instance, is logically laid out (i.e., features are where you expect to find them) and the visualization engine is outstanding. VERITAS knows how to write software, especially when it comes to file systems, backup, replication, volume management software, and other storage categories. One day, some company will release a storage product that becomes as dominant as Microsoft Office (a product that will then reside in every administrator's toolkit) and lock out other vendors; VERITAS just might be the company to do so.

As Gary Bloom, the new CEO of VERITAS (formerly of Oracle) noted, VERITAS has big plans. The company is going to spend $5 billion on R&D over the next 4 years to become a central player in the marketplace. So it's worth keeping your eye on VERITAS.

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