Taming the beast

Symantec plans to provide a comprehensive range of critical technologies designed to help IT take proactive control of the data centre. Richard Archdeacon, director of the Innovation Team covering Europe, Middle East and Africa, was in Dubai recently to explain its plans to 500-plus CIO and IT decision makers. Colin Edwards finds out more.

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By  Colin Edwards Published  July 2, 2006

|~|Archdeason,-Richard200.gif|~|Richard Archdeacon, director of Symantec's Innovation Team covering Europe, Middle East and Africa.|~|Arabian Computer News: Symantec talks about the need for a better approach to manage the increasingly complex data centre - where do you think existing management tools fall down?

Richard Archdeacon It's not so much that the management tools fall down (although there are some that remain passive monitoring tools rather than active); it's that there are too many of them.
If a heterogeneous environment uses native hardware vendor tools then potentially this means that IT needs specialists in each platform, hardware, and management activity, rather than standardising on a single set of management tools that works across the entire infrastructure.
For example, using three or four different clustering solutions for each hardware vendor and Operating System will require three or four operators to manage those clusters (plus others to manage those environments should one of them go on vacation).

ACN: So what's the solution as far as Symantec is concerned?

RA: There is therefore the need for more standards.
We have a start today in SMI-S but before that becomes a reality, software is key to making this happen; and with Cluster Server the interface for each cluster looks and behaves the same way - and can be managed from a central location and a single GUI.

ACN: Surely the more complex data centres are already addressing systems management issues. Is there room for another management suite? Or are you looking at a different type of data centre - possibly the less sophisticated - Wintel-based?

RA:This isn't 'another' management suite; this is an alternative replacement. Instead of having separate applications for every piece of hardware from every vendor - and in some cases, individual vendors having different pieces of management software for their different pieces of hardware or different hardware ranges - it's about having a single piece of software which enables the disparate environment to be managed centrally. This isn't about reducing the data centre to a single platform - that will never happen in the bigger organisations - this is about making it easier to manage what is there today and being able to easily incorporate new devices in the future. For instance, Foundation Suite does this for storage, Cluster Server for clustering, NetBackup for backup.
The difference Symantec offers is in the approach. Symantec can now offer a far more integrated, holistic solution in the need for control and organisation of the data centre.

ACN: You say Symantec is the only integrated solution enabling enterprises to standardise across heterogeneous infrastructure. If this is the case, where do the likes of HP OpenView, IBM, CA fall down in integration and standardisation or have I got the wrong end of the claim?

RA:Symantec has the technology to run IT infrastructures across disparate environments as well as having the best of breed technologies to support each of the major O/S.
Having discovery tools from the end-point through application, server, network, storage and archiving, we have an entire view of the infrastructure and can manage the four pillars that enable IT infrastructure management . These are data protection, storage management server management and application performance.
As a hardware, application, database, middleware agnostic vendor, Symantec is best placed to take an omnipresent view of the IT infrastructure enabling organisations to start to implement IT Service transformation and provision. More often than not the likes of OpenView is a window on the environment, when there is a problem in the environment the administrator still fires up the appropriate or specific management application for the device which has the problem.
In some cases other vendors' applications can monitor other vendors' devices, but seldom can they 'manage' them. This is where Symantec is different - through unified monitoring and management of heterogeneous devices in a heterogeneous OS environment.

ACN: How does Symantec differ from such solutions and why do you believe you will be able to succeed in this space?

RA:As an independent software vendor Symantec is able to take a broad view of IT management requirements and apply the technology across different storage vendors and OS.
It also has the opportunity to leverage its partnerships. Symantec has a legacy of great partnerships and OEM deals with all the major manufacturers. It is #1 in several software management sectors because of its broad range of supported devices and the ease at which new devices can be added. As it is used in the majority of the Fortune 2000 companies, there is often a need from a partner of Symantec for it to support new hardware before companies will purchase or even try it out.

ACN: Are you approaching this market from a cost perspective - that is will your solutions make management more affordable? The high cost of management tools and suites could be seen as one of the reasons data centres are getting out of control.

RA:The majority of cost comes in the form of the hardware, operating system and physical presence required to manage the data centre. Software can manage the data centre effectively and assist in reducing the total cost of ownership by utilising performance management tools.
There are lots of numbers bandied around about the cost of hardware vs. the cost of management.
With CIOs, and organisations in general, forcing IT costs down, or at least flat-lining budgets, it is imperative that organisations gain control of their environments and manage the costs associated with running the data centre. This is the simple aim of Symantec: to give organisations the benefits of being able to maintain a multi-vendor environment, enabling the driving down of hardware costs, together with the ability to manage this infrastructure within a reasonable budget and regaining control of the entire infrastructure.

ACN: You are not addressing the mainframe management market? Is this because of the incumbents and do you see a future without mainframes in the data centre?

RA:Symantec is specifically focused on open system (UNIX, Linux and Windows). There will be organisations that have data centres that have mainframe components and some that don't - this will depend upon the requirements of the business as well as the costs associated with moving away from a mainframe environment. While mainframes are not going away anytime soon, the increase in open systems continues to grow and that is the market Symantec knows best and has always been successful in.

ACN: What about other gaps in the Symantec portfolio? As a data protection company, what are your plans as far as identity management is concerned, for example?

RA:The Symantec portfolio addresses the protection of the infrastructure, information and IT interactions for large enterprise organisations right through to consumers. Symantec does have tools that help to enable identity management, such as BV Admin, which provides access control by enforcing delegated administration rights, in order for users to gain admission to data centres and IT systems, using behavioural technologies to control their access (Symantec Network Access Control).

ACN: How does the new portfolio address the current industry moves towards server and storage virtualisation?

RA:Symantec has been in the storage virtualisation market for some time - Veritas Volume Manager, which is a component part of the Storage Foundation, virtualises disk across storage as well as automating the process of tiered storage.
In the Server arena, Symantec can provide solutions that enable both application placement and load balancing. Our long-term objective is to help organisations build a data centre that ultimately delivers IT as a measurable service - with policy-driven management and reporting capabilities that dynamically improve infrastructure utilisation, automate routine tasks and help maintain service levels.
Foundation Suite has been around since 1989 and has always been rated the Number 1 storage virtualisation application. It enabled people to move to SANs transparently in the late 90s and continues to innovate with things like Storage Tiers and policy based quality of storage service.
Clustering has been around since the late 90s as well (we had High Availability solutions before then) and is also Number 1 in its sector - this enables server and application virtualisation across 10s of nodes.
The next generation of clustering moves this out to more of a grid like environment with applications capable of being moved automatically across 1000s of servers to best optimise the need of the application with the available resources - dynamically.

ACN: With your management solution rounding out your claims to be a total data protection company, as you talked about at the Dubai conference, is there not a danger of a one-stop data protection shop becoming a single point of insecurity - vis-à-vis your latest vulnerability threat?

RA:Certainly we face ongoing challenges, but vulnerabilities are just that - vulnerabilities - not gaping holes, which a hacker can get through. Don’t confuse vulnerability with an actual attack.
In the majority of cases, companies have multiple levels of security to prevent actual problems from arising. Symantec's strategy is, and always has been, that protecting the enterprise today requires a broad set of solutions designed to protect the infrastructure, information, and interactions. Symantec can help organisations sustain the continuous availability of information, systems, and applications, from client to storage. Our long-term objective is to help organisations build a data centre that ultimately delivers IT as a measurable service, with policy-driven management and reporting capabilities that dynamically improve infrastructure utilisation, automate routine tasks, and help maintain service levels.
Our solutions for information retention; access control; endpoint compliance; configuration; and business continuity also help organisations proactively measure and remedy any deficiencies to help them sustain control over their environment. For more than 20 years Symantec has been protecting organisations and individuals from threats, system failures, user errors, and disaster.
Symantec protects more people and more companies from online threats than anyone in the world. Symantec was the first to deliver an integrated security appliance, the first to bring together market-leading protection of the infrastructure and information, and was the first to provide solutions that protect the security and availability of information. ||**||

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