Right now a major re-alignment is taking shape in the computer industry driven in large part by enterprises questioning the value of heterogeneous hardware and software solutions. Heterogeneity originally lowered upfront procurements costs but over time it created new levels of complexity when it came time to make these disparate solutions work well together. These difficulties are leading more providers to build end-to-end solution offerings that are raising questions about the role that independent enterprise software providers like Symantec will provide in this new world.
The trend of enterprise providers putting together end-to-end solutions is well under way. In the last two years, HP has acquired companies like EDS, LeftHand Networks and 3COM in its attempt to become a sole provider of these solutions. Cisco has added server hardware to its portfolio of offerings and bolstered its alliance with EMC and VMware in the form of their Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Coalition. Even Oracle got into the act with its recent acquisition of Sun so it too can stake claim as an end-to-end solutions provider.
But as these companies make acquisitions and alliances, how enterprise software providers like Symantec fit into the picture becomes a little hazy. After all, much if not all of Symantec’s software is intended for deployment in heterogeneous environments but if the market trend is towards more homogeneous, end-to-end solutions offerings, where exactly does Symantec’s value proposition come into play?
A recent conversation that DCIG had with Symantec helped to clarify the new role that Symantec is playing in the emergence of these end-to-end solution offerings from these different players in the market.
For instance, consider the new look of Oracle. Oracle with its acquisition of Sun now has an extensive stack of hardware and software upon which to build its solutions. However its solution set still does not provide all of the features that enterprises might want or demand.
It is because of this that Symantec is actively engaging with Oracle as a development partner in the following ways:
- Put out software releases according to Oracle/Sun’s build schedule
- Track when they want to go live with their products
- Help them differentiate their products from the competition so as to provide unique solutions
A prime example of this is Symantec’s engagement with the Oracle VM (OVM) team. Today, OVM is the only Oracle certified server virtualization solution for x86/x86_64 platforms–supporting almost all of Oracle’s products. Every other server virtualization solution running Oracle is technically an “unsupported” configuration which is an unpopular position within the Oracle community, especially as more and more companies wish to implement server virtualization using platforms such as Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.
However Symantec saw this as an opportunity to help bring a supported Oracle solution to market by working with the Oracle VM team. Symantec moved out ahead of this watch-and-wait crowd by adding support for Oracle Enterprise Linux to its Veritas Storage Foundation (SF) suite and is actively engaged with the OVM team to extend SF functionality to OVM as well
Symantec admits that OVM provides some unique challenges. OVM is a very heavy application in terms of its memory and storage requirements to effectively manage storage in a block-based virtualization approach so as to simultaneously reduce storage management complexity while adding features like snapshots and replication.
However discussions with Oracle in terms of how to best address these difficult areas are going well. Part of what is contributing to the progress is that a lot of OVM is based upon Xen (Xen is block based virtualization architecture as opposed to a file-based architecture like VMware and HyperV).
This makes the likelihood of Symantec successfully porting Veritas Storage Foundation to OVM high since Symantec has already successfully done so for Citrix XenServer. Further, Oracle wants to run an application stack on OVM that enterprises find acceptable and using Veritas Storage Foundation gives them a road map to accomplishing that objective.
Symantec’s partnership with Oracle is just one example of how Symantec is remaining relevant in this world where end-to-end solutions providers are becoming more prevalent. While these end-to-end solutions providers such as HP, Oracle, and others have many of the pieces to provide an end-to-end solutions offering, they lack some of the glue that makes sure they all work as well as they should.
This is a new role that Symantec is starting to assume. Because it already has the software that solves a lot of these problems plus the best practices in place to test and make sure all of their components work together as designed, Symantec is becoming the glue that acts as the stabilizing force in many of these new configurations.
In so doing, Symantec remains highly relevant as these new end-to-end vendor solution offerings come to market. Symantec gives customers the confidence that these new end-to-end vendor solution offerings will work as designed while still giving customers the flexibility to switch back to a more heterogeneous environment should the situation warrant.