My SearchITChannel colleague Barb Darrow blogged this morning that her sources are saying Symantec is preparing to lay off a significant chunk of its sales force.
In the meantime, sources in the enterprise storage industry also say Symantec is laying off more engineers that have been working on its storage software products, on the heels of a reported layoff of Veritas file system engineers that surfaced about two weeks ago.
Sources close to Symantec say the company is laying off employees from an office in Lindon, Utah, affecting developers reportedly working on Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) and Enterprise Vault.
As with the Veritas file system division, sources indicate much of the work is to be outsourced to India, although one source indicated some of the BESR engineers will be transferred to the Heathrow, Florida office where developers of the core Backup Exec backup software product work.
Update: After this post was originally published, a Symantec spokesperson contacted Storage Soup, confirming there has been downsizing at the Utah facility, but correcting earlier reports that the Lindon office is to be shut down completely. “We are definitely NOT closing down the Lindon facility,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “We are minimizing our footprint but will continue to maintain our presence in Lindon. That process includes elements such as moving functions to other facilities and also giving employees in the Lindon area the flexibility to work from home. There will also be some downsizing, but we are not disclosing any specific numbers. ”
Symantec has discussed consolidation of Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery, which share some feature overlap as well as a brand name. While Backup Exec does not perform bare-metal restore of operating system and application objects and settings for physical servers, it can offer similar capabilities for virtual machines as of version 12.5. Meanwhile, as of version 8.5, BESR offered agents that could be used for a Granular Restore Option to restore individual files from Exchange or SharePoint server images, which mirrors what Symantec calls Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) in Backup Exec and NetBackup.
BESR 2010, released in November, added support for Linux and deeper integration with Symantec’s Management Platform, based on its acquisition of Altiris. At the time of that announcement, execs said integration between BESR and the core Backup Exec product remains on the roadmap for the two products, but declined to give a time frame. BESR is positioned for the smallest of SMBs, while Backup Exec is positioned for SMB Windows shops.
Symantec reported Jan. 27 that it saw an 8% decline in storage sales for its fiscal third quarter (December 2009) as compared with the same quarter a year earlier, although the $594 million in revenue generated by the Storage and Server Management group represented an increase of 6% sequentially.
The last time Symantec disclosed significant layoffs was in 2007, the result of streamlining the company after integrating Veritas. At the time, then-CEO John Thompson addressed rumors that Symantec was preparing to spin off the Veritas storage business on an earnings conference call.
Similar speculation is floating again with these latest reports of layoffs at the company, but our source doesn’t see things playing out that way. “I don’t think [Symantec is] moving away from storage,” the source said. “Just lots of continued [cost] trimming around the edges and more aggressive off-shoring.”
Symantec declined to comment on “industry rumors and speculation” when the reports about Veritas file system engineers surfaced two weeks ago. So far, the company’s reps have yet to return my requests for comment today.
Update: Shortly after this post went live, a Symantec spokesperson directed me to a statement issued on the Symantec website emphasizing the company’s committment to the storage space (but not refuting reports of layoffs) —
The purpose of this communication is to address erroneous speculation that Symantec is leaving the storage space or somehow de-emphasizing the importance of our Storage and Availability Management (SAMG) portfolio for our valued customers. The bottom line is — Symantec is not exiting this space, and we remain committed to helping our customers who face significant challenges in managing storage growth and ensuring the availability of their critical information.
Symantec is 100 percent committed to our SAMG product portfolio. None of the SAMG products that we offer today are being discontinued. We are continuing to invest significant engineering resources in our core Storage Foundation and High Availability (SFHA) and Storage Management solutions. Some of the core areas where we are increasing investment are around Cluster File System, Dynamic Multi-Pathing, and value-added integration with VMware environments.
Across the SAMG product portfolio, we are making significant progress in improving quality and customer experience. In addition, we are continuing to innovate with new products and technology capabilities. One example is the recent announcement of our FileStore solution, which is built on our proven SFHA technology and incorporates technologies from our security and data protection portfolio. Another example is our recently announced Data Insight technology, which will be released shortly within our Data Loss Prevention solution.
Meanwhile, I also came across a local news story about Symantec buildings in Lindon, Utah being evacuated today “after employees reported finding a threatening note.” That news story makes no connection to any layoffs, however, and says the motives for the threat remain unknown.
It’s pretty much an open secret by now that EMC is getting ready to refresh its Clariion midrange disk arrays this month. Among the details leaked so far about what the new product will contain is the suggestion it will support NFS and CIFS, signaling the beginning of a consolidation of Clariion and the Celerra NAS platforms.
But another detail offered by an industry source earlier this week caught my eye and rang a bell when it comes to this announcement —
Deeper integration with VMware — “integration not available elsewhere,” according to one source – is supposedly a big feature of the new Clariion. EMC will apparently play up storage virtualization as well, although it’s unclear yet what new virtualization features will be included.
That’s when I remembered something I came across at EMC World two years ago, in an exhibit on the show floor called the Innovation Showcase. Among the product sneak previews I noted at the time:
Senior consulting software engineer Sorin Faibish was showing off his own diagram of “Application-Aware Intelligent Storage.” This would combine artificial intelligence software capable of being “trained” with hardware-embedded VMware ESX servers to automatically spawn services like data migration, encryption and replication to data as it comes into the cache on a storage array. The embedded ESX host would run EMC’s RecoverPoint CDP inside, logging and catalogging I/O, indexing data for input into a modeling engine, which would then decide on the proper way to store and protect the data before flushing it to disk.
No time frame was given on any of the prototypes.
Just something to ponder while we’re all waiting for a press release.
The new offering is based on the company’s acquisition of data classification company Avalere in 2007, and Iron Mountain first released it to customers at the end of 2009. Iron Mountain plans to integrate Connected Classify & Collect with Iron Mountain’s other cloud data storage services, LiveVault and Virtual File Store (VFS), although the vendor has given no timeframe for that yet.
Data collection on corporate PCs is one of the thorniest areas in e-discovery, according to analysts. Iron Mountain claims pre-classifying data will lead to more comprehensive e-discovery searches. “We’ve come to realize that Connected can be more accurate than file shares or impounding employee laptops,” Iron Mountain Digital director of product management David Asher told SearchDataBackup last year. “By the time laptops are impounded, an employee may have had days to delete data.”
Two storage-focused equipment distributors converged today as Bell Micro agreed to be acquired by Avnet for $594 million, $342 million of which will go to pay off Bell Micro’s debts.
The impact of this announcement is mainly being felt in the IT channel, with speculation in the industry focused on whether this move for Avnet is a means of lessening its dependence on Sun hardware products after Oracle said in January it would take Sun’s largest customers direct.
Enterprise Strategy Group founder and president Steve Duplessie blogged this morning that he doesn’t see the distribution market expanding again any time soon:
[T]here used to be a ton of big distributors, but they don’t seem to be around anymore–besides Avnet. Bell was a $3B giant, but just agreed to get purchased by Avnet for only $250M or so (net of debt). That’s one small multiple, which tells me you probably don’t want to be in the distribution business. Any business that requires outrageous capital, offers huge risk, and only has a shot of giving back fractions of a penny on revenue ain’t a business for me…In many ways, the distribution game has changed such that it seems impossible for anyone to get in at this point. It takes so much money and expertise to build up logistics and inventory management systems–who could possibly enter and make a run at it?
But he isn’t sure whether the deal will have much of an effect on pricing for storage end users, since manufacturers and not distributors tend to have more of an effect on pricing.
According to StorageIO founder and analyst Greg Schulz, “for the storage end user [this merge] should have little impact as [end users] buy from the VARs. The distributors like Bell, Ingram, Techdata, Avnet, Synex, and Arrow are the suppliers to the VARs on behalf of the manufacturers.”
The storage Twitter-sphere was abuzz this morning with reports from bloggers attending HP’s Storage Day, an event for end-user and partner bloggers to hear about HP’s vision for storage.
Among those tweets a familiar name began to pop up: Tom Joyce, whom I first met when he was working in product marketing for EMC Corp. Joyce left EMC and was appointed CEO of Akorri Inc. in 2007; he left Akorri for Stratus in 2009 but has now resurfaced in HP’s StorageWorks division. An HP spokesperson confirmed this morning that Joyce joined the HP StorageWorks group as its vice president of marketing in late February.
Joyce joins HP in the wake of last year’s high-profile defection of former EMC storage division head David Donatelli to HP, where he serves as EVP of servers, storage and networking.
Joyce joins Patrick Eitenbichler in HP’s StorageWorks division. According to Eitenbichler’s LinkedIn profile, he is now director of marketing for HP Software. An HP spokesperson wrote in an email to Storage Soup today that there have been “no other [executive] changes I’m aware of.”
Is EMC merging its Clariion SAN and Celerra NAS platforms or not? EMC president of information infrastructure products Pat Gelsinger discussed that topic with financial analysts today, and refused to tip his hand either way.
Gelsinger spoke about driving synergies between the midrange Clariion and Symmetrix enterprise SAN platforms during a webcast with analysts to discuss EMC technology. When asked why EMC isn’t merging Clariion and Symmetrix and that it’s “well known” that it is merging the Clariion and Celerra, Gelsinger said that was just rumor at this stage. He didn’t deny that convergence was coming either, though.
“I would point out on the Celerra and Clariion lines, there are wide rumors in the industry about our product strategy in those areas, but we haven’t made any public statements,” Gelsinger said. “Our plans are, we’re going to continue to carry forward the Clariion customers, we’re going to continue to carry forward the Celerra customers. There are opportunities for simplification in those product lines and more effective use for those products, but we haven’t laid out specific product strategies or brand strategies in either of those areas.”
For the record, Gelsinger’s answer on why not merge Clariion and Symmetrix was, “I haven’t said we will or we won’t.”
Rumors of convergence between Clariion and Celerra have been spreading for months. They were so strong in February that EMC issued denial. Now the convergence talk has started up again ahead of an expected Clariion upgrade launch. Many will probably take Gelsinger’s statement as more of a confirmation of a merger than a denial, but it appears that EMC is trying to keep the platforms separate for now.
EMC watchers are well aware the vendor is due for a Clariion refresh, and industry sources say that is coming early next month.
Sources say details on the next generation Clariion will be disclosed in April with the systems going GA in June although some features won’t make it until the fall.
Deeper integration with VMware — “integration not available elsewhere,” according to one source – is supposedly a big feature of the new Clariion. EMC will apparently play up storage virtualization as well, although it’s unclear yet what new virtualization features will be included. Another improvement is easier upgrades of disk shelves, controllers, firmware, core OS, array-based software, and so on.
But perhaps the most interesting thing to watch will be whether EMC adds support for NFS and CIFS, as some expect. This would be the next step in integrating Clariion and EMC’s Celerra unified storage. EMC isn’t ready to end-of-life Celerra yet, but the new Clariion could be confirmation that it is going in that direction. Sources say the vendor already has a name for the new converged system — EMC V-CX.
Editor’s note: After this blog was initially published, Atrato alerted us to a misunderstanding about the GA date of certain features. The corrected text is below.
Self-healing array maker Atrato Inc. is finally making updating its support for solid-state drives and automated tiered storage generally available, a year after it first promised them.
Atrato issued a press release announcing general availability of new SSD units and automated tiered storage software Wednesday, after going back to the drawing board a few times a series of incremental releases following last year’s similar announcement, according to vice president of marketing Bill Mottram.
Atrato originally aimed for released SSD support last May, “but there was more complexity involved in the product than we anticipated,” Mottram said. Atrato’s hybrid VLUN, which spans across solid-state and spinning disks required some tweaks for performance, including a new feature being released this week called “I/O reforming,” which takes blocks of multiple sizes and bundles them into a fixed block size of 256 KB. Mottram said this speeds up moves between SSD and HDD tiers.
Atrato’s arrays are constructed out of enclosures stacked into what it calls a Self-maintaining Array of Identical Disks (SAID). These enclosures, which previously held 10 disks each, are now available with room for 24 drives. Atrato’s SSD enclosure holds 10 or 24 drives, and it now offers multiple configuration options depending on the level of performance or capacity needed.
The updated Velocity 1000 will also support up to four SSD enclosures, whereas last year support was announced for one.
Last year Atrato said it would support Intel’s X-25 E and X-25 M SLC and MLC drives, but now says it will only support the SLC version, as well as 150 GB drives from Pliant on customer request.
A redesign of the V1000 backplane has also boosted Atrato’s performance benchmark claims for the array from 16,000 IOPS to 24,000 IOPS. “It has to do with how we move data within the SAID,” Mottram said, declining to disclose further technical detail.
One feature Atrato customers have asked for, a graphical user interface (GUI) to control the box, remains a roadmap item but should be released toward the end of next month, Mottram said. Until then, the V1000 will continue to be managed through a command-line interface (CLI).