The Veritas-Symantec Merger: Ask A Silly Question
What does the merger mean for customers of Veritas?
I recently polled four self-styled platform neutral storage software companies with a laundry list of questions about the current market for storage management software and the outlook for 2005. With respect to the Veritas-Symantec merger, their answers were illuminating, to say the least.
Symantec reported in late 2004 that it was acquiring Veritas, arguably the 600-pound gorilla of storage management software. Pundits went into overdrive debating the merits of the merger, but we put our initial reaction on hold, though it was a reaction based on hope. Having gone several rounds with Veritas in the past regarding user-reported flaws in some of their products, and after receiving only a steady litany of denials from Veritas that any such flaws existed, we simply stopped believing much of what the company said about anything.
By contrast, knowing some folks in the Enterprise Storage division at Symantec— especially those who came with the software giant’s acquisition of PowerQuest a year or two back—we had hopes that some credibility would be injected into the verbiage about Veritas products. Simply put, PowerQuest had been guided by no-nonsense folks who never promised what they couldn’t deliver. It helped that they had a set of solid server-management products used by almost every server administrator I knew. Symantec rose in my estimation when they left PowerQuest leaders in charge, and my hope was that they would put these people in charge of the Veritas crew once the acquisition was complete.
I don’t know that this will happen. And the silence of my friends at Symantec suggests that the matter of who will oversee Veritas product development and marketing is still undecided. I was curious about what Veritas competitors were thinking, so I asked them.
AppIQ Marketing Director John Kelly responded with a rant. He said that the merger made Veritas “weaker in our space simply because SANpoint Control/CommandCentral was always the ugly duck in the Veritas product portfolio, and this casts further doubt on its future.”
He noted that his conversations with “a lot of Veritas sales reps” looking for jobs at AppIQ underscored the fact that the vendor’s SRM suite “never sold…on its own merits, just in ‘wrap and roll’ deals with NetBackup, Volume Manager, and File System.” He was told that the sales force never new how to sell SRM and didn’t focus on it, preferring to sell what their customers already knew—“meaning NetBackup, VxFS, and VxVM’—to make their sales number each quarter.
Said Kelly, “We have also heard from numerous Veritas customers that the Symantec acquisition is a real concern for them as they are worried about the possible impact on engineering and support resources, and the trimming of product lines like CommandCentral that are not doing well. Veritas has [acquired] good technology … (with Precise i3, Invio, etc.), but the pace of innovation as a whole definitely slowed and they haven’t been able to integrate all of these pieces, which is probably why they accepted the buyout from a company of equal size.”
Unnamed respondents to my questionnaire at Computer Associates echoed some of the same views as Kelly. They suggested that the behind-the-scenes integration of their storage management, backup, and SAN management products is a task that lies ahead for Symantec, giving CA BrightStor the edge.
CA also suggested that the merger would leave customers of Veritas, a backup company, very concerned with the direction of their enterprise technology. In CA’s estimation, at lot of this had to do with the perception of Symantec as “a consumer/small business software company with low penetration, visibility, and credibility in the enterprise space.” The respondent said even employees of Veritas were questioning “how a consumer software company will help them get to the next level of enterprise management.”
A response from Dallas, TX-based Tek-Tools was more contemplative. The unnamed respondent noted that Symantec and Veritas have different market spaces and customers, “One is consumer-based (Symantec) the other enterprise-based (Veritas). Veritas’ SRM offering remains fragmented in comparison to other tools. The merged companies could become more powerful by combining product offerings into suites that appeal to customers looking for a set of products that work well together rather than a collection of ‘best of breed’ tools, but such an offering remains a long way off.”
If the Tek-Tools response, while probably the most accurate, seemed to waffle, the response from Softek Storage Solutions Corporation was downright cryptic. Said their respondent, “Softek has no specific comments on the merger other than mergers in general can be very distracting from a company’s core business.” An inward-looking statement, perhaps, from a company that itself just went through substantial pain in its separation from Fujitsu.
In the final analysis, the merger of Veritas and Symantec will probably go down as just another case of the industry consolidation trend that had to happen in storage. Next time, we will look at what the gang had to say about hardware companies encroaching on their turf.
What does the merger mean to you, the consumer? Please forward your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jon William Toigo is chairman of The Data Management Institute, the CEO of data management consulting and research firm Toigo Partners International, as well as a contributing editor to Enterprise Systems and its Storage Strategies columnist. Mr. Toigo is the author of 14 books, including Disaster Recovery Planning, 3rd Edition, and The Holy Grail of Network Storage Management, both from Prentice Hall.