In this final entry in a three-part series, I finish my conversation with Deepak Mohan, Symantec’s Information Management Group SVP, as he takes a look at some of the current gaps in data protection and recovery today, tape’s evolving role in enterprises and why Symantec still views tape as a viable technology and why large enterprises in general and healthcare IT specifically can benefit from Symantec’s suite of products. Mohan provides some specifics on data protection and recovery gaps in different market segments, why the transition from tape to disk is going to occur gradually and why enterprise organizations need an enterprise software solution that addresses all of the needs of today’s organizations from the end-user to the data center.
Jerome: What do you see as some of the largest gaps in data protection today? Also, what do you see as some of the largest gaps in recovery and what do typical IT organizations fail to consider in the recovery of their data?
Deepak Mohan: The way Symantec looks at data protection is based on market segments.
When we look at the consumer market segment, cost is the issue. They typically spend a few hundred dollars a year on data protection but as long as they can get their pictures and music back, they are happy, and they can usually survive for a week without their data.
When we look at the small and midsize business segment, these are customers who do not typically have IT administrators but still need a cost-effective and reliable way to protect their data. From a gap perspective, their number one problem is awareness. They have systems and servers but the awareness from a data protection perspective is pretty low. Further, they do not have the resources to manage these systems nor do they have a reliable way to do offsite protection of their data and tapes. In these environments, our software-as-a-service is ideally suited for them because it is low-cost and stores their data safely offsite.
The third market segment is enterprise. They have IT staff and well-defined policies but are dealing with scale and the management of complex environments. In these customer environments, if you name any OS platform, any database, any email system, or type of hardware platform, whether it is a disk array, VTL or tape library, they have it.
These customers need an easier way to manage all of this from a single platform because their situation does not get easier every day; it gets more complex. When you look at bringing companies like Wells Fargo and Wachovia together and inherit all of those infrastructures, how do you bring all of this together? A common management platform to manage all of this diversity is extremely important.
To address this, our next generation solutions from Symantec can manage all the diverse technology from a single platform which is extremely important to accomplish the job as well as reduce the cost of ownership.
Jerome: While disk is assuming a role as a primary backup target, tape looks like it will remain a part of many data centers. How is Symantec evolving its data protection solutions to accommodate tape’s new role in data centers?
Deepak Mohan: Tape is not dead but disk is becoming more important so Symantec is continuing its investment in disk and disk-centric technologies. We do see tape moving more and more towards secondary archival storage with disk options taking the primary role of backup target.
However, that transition occurs gradually and our solutions definitely account for it. We manage both disk and tape solutions from a single platform which is built across our product lines.
We also provide OST (OpenStorage API) and, leveraging that, customers can plug into newer disk technologies alongside their existing tape technologies. OST is used primarily by third party intelligent storage vendors like Data Domain to allow our customers to access a wide variety of hardware platforms whether they are on disk or tape.
Symantec has the largest platform support for tape, tape devices and tape arrays which is important because the latest releases of tape formats like LTO-4 have native capacities of 1 TB or more with compression. This is why we perform extensive compatibility testing to make sure our solutions work effectively across tape and disk and are managed from a common platform.
Jerome: I am getting feedback from a number of sources that indicates that healthcare IT looks to be a bright spot for the next couple of years. Is Symantec doing anything in this area either now or planning in the future that is important for organizations to know about?
Deepak Mohan: When you look at the healthcare IT industry, it is a classic example of an industry that has big enterprises and big data centers at the hub but also has millions and millions of users across the globe. This is a great example of a true client-server application but this ecosystem has some very specific needs.
Just off the cuff, it has a lot of regulatory, data protection, storage and security requirements and additional data protection challenges because the industry is so distributed.
Symantec already protects all 10 of the 10 leading healthcare companies. So when you look at people accessing healthcare data in the future, the end-users of the healthcare system are also all customers of Symantec since they use Norton. In the data center, we offer virtualization and security technologies at various access points plus we offer healthcare all of the infrastructure protection, security, and management they need.
Symantec will absolutely continue to support this particular vertical with our existing solutions. Symantec is extremely well-positioned all the way from the consumer to small businesses to large enterprises.
In part 1 of this 3-part series, Deepak discusses some of the larger trends in data protection in 2009, how Symantec is delivering on these requirements now and what Symantec is doing to help organizations achieve these objectives.
In part 2 of this 3-part series, Deepak provides some specifics on how Symantec differentiates itself from competitors in the market by providing customers a full ecosystem of integrated products that encompass data protection, data management and data security.