Veritas Shadow Backup

Company last week shed some light on its Project Shadow, now called the Veritas Desktop and Laptop Option. Storage Center Editor David Morgenstern says there's more than meets the eye with this upgrade.

Veritas Software Corp. last week brought its Project Shadow out into the open, detailing its network backup solution for mobile workers. While holding to the message on network backup, Veritas executives down played one of the updates wider (and positive) attributes.

Dubbed the Veritas Desktop and Laptop Option, the add-on for the popular Backup Exec for Windows Server and NetBackup will ship by years end, along with a new round of updated software, the company said. Pricing for the Backup Exec and NetBackup versions will start at $495 and $2,500, respectively.

The software offers a number of backup and synchronization features aimed at remote users as well as those in the office. Like other competing mobile-centric packages, Veritas new software detects the client machine when it logs on the network, whether on the local network or even via dial-up connection.

According to Llana Metcalf, Veritas product marketing manager, the update implements a "yield concept" for remote dial-up connections. The backup software senses when the client machine is being used for more immediate concerns, such as surfing the Web and sending e-mail, and sets a low-priority thread. "The [backup] files are sent as bandwidth is freed up," she said.

The upgrade also lets users synchronize files across multiple machines automatically. This isnt just for a laptop and a server, but between several client-side machines. For example, someone who has a notebook and a workstation and maybe one at home.

According to Glenn Groshans, director of product marketing, the update "adds little to ITs burden," and is transparently integrated into a sites existing backup infrastructure. Sure to please both productivity-minded IT staff and end users alike, the software lets users initiate a restore operation themselves, instead of requiring a call to an IT manager.

In their pitch, the pair tag-teamed on the mobile message. Groshans pointed to a recent study showing that IT managers still mostly ignore mobile backup. According to the research, 60 percent of critical data on notebooks still isnt backed up.

He said the usual IT response for these mobile workers is to put responsibility for backup on the end user. A personal folder is created on a server, and its up to the mobile user to copy over important files. "Most people arent so diligent," Groshans observed.

Or certainly, this was the approach Veritas customers had to take, since the market-leading company has taken its good time to address this important trend in computing. A number of other, smaller backup vendors have had solutions for mobile clients for a long while.

At the same time, one might wonder why Veritas called this software the Desktop and Laptop Option. (Please note that Im pointing to the inclusion of "desktop" in the name and not on its creativity, although if the trend holds, we might expect the company to offer a Desktop and Laptop and Handheld and Instant Messaging and Voice-Over-IP Option in the future.) Beyond the synchronization capability, does the Option address desktop backup?

According to Metcalf, the Option offers "continuous backup." In this case, clients send regular snapshots of changed files to the backup server throughout the day, which are then combined to form the full backup image. Instead of running a backup at night, this virtualization feature spreads out the backup—letting managers leverage their existing storage and tape infrastructure.

The new software lets storage managers take "care of remote users and achieve greater efficiency in the data center," Metcalf said.

Storage managers can use this virtualization to improve the recovery point for desktop users. Of course, the continuous backup is essential for the increasing number of users who have replaced their desktops with laptops. Storage Center Editor David Morgenstern is a longtime reporter of the storage industry as well as a veteran of the dot-com boom in the storage-rich fields of professional content creation and digital video.

More from David Morgenstern: