Symantec enters online services fray

Online backup service for SMBs is first of several hosted services Symantec plans to offer as part of "Symantec Protection Network."

Symantec on Tuesday plans to take a first step toward turning itself into a provider of hosted services for small- and midsize businesses.

The Cupertino, Calif., security and storage management software maker plans to launch a trial version of a new online backup service called Symantec Protection Network--Online Backup Service. The new service is the first of several new services planned under the Symantec Protection Network brand, the company said Monday.

"Many small and midsized businesses have not had the ability to get the reliable and secure service they due to cost and lack of resources," Arthur Wong, a Symantec senior vice president, said in a statement. Symantec aims to deliver easy-to-manage services at an affordable cost, the company said.

Symantec won't say what other services it plans to launch, but points to its existing software-based products. "If you think about what we're known for, such as antivirus, antispam and remote access, you can figure out what we're launching," Chris Schin, director of product management at Symantec, said in an interview.

Symantec has built two data centers to support its online services. The backup service requires installation of an agent on the machine that is to be backed up. The user then logs in and selects what data should be saved. During the beta, Symantec will offer 25GB of free storage space; at final launch the amount of space will depend on the plan purchased. Pricing has yet to be announced.

The online backup service is available to a limited number of testers, but is scheduled to be released in final form midsummer, Symantec said. A second trial service is scheduled to be launched over the summer. "We plan to roll out three or four betas a year," Schin said.

Symantec also offers online backup for consumers through its Norton 360 software . Many companies offer online backup for consumers as well as businesses. These include Asigra, EVault (owned by hard-disk maker Seagate) and Iron Mountain.

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