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Veritas expanding software to new turf

The company wants to spread its software dominion from the core servers found deep within corporate networks to lesser but still important computers.

Veritas is trying to spread its software dominion from the core servers found deep within corporate networks to lesser but still important computers, the company plans to announce Monday.

Veritas sells software that keeps computing services available--or in a state of "high availability," to use the industry idiom--by making sure one computer can take over for a fallen comrade. Previously, this "failover clustering" technology has been expensive and complicated enough to restrict its use chiefly to powerful back-end database servers at companies with big budgets.

In coming months, though, the Mountain View, Calif., company will begin selling two new products, said Jonathan Martin, director of product management for high availability.

First, Veritas is extending its Cluster Server software so it will work on "application servers," less powerful computers that process information sent to and from the back-end servers. Second, the company will begin selling Cluster Server Traffic Director, "load-balancing" software that controls how jobs are shared within groups of application servers or servers that send out Web pages.

The expanded strategy will require Veritas to get its software to work in cooperation with that of a larger group of software companies, and will expose the company to new competitors such as Cisco and F5 Networks. But if the initiative is successful, it could mean a major expansion of Veritas' customer base.

Gartner analyst Donna Scott says the requirement for a more robust and responsive Web infrastructure has fueled innovation in a number of technology areas.

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Clustering is difficult. Veritas is an accepted leader in the market, but server companies including Sun Microsystems, Compaq Computer, IBM and Hewlett-Packard all have their own versions. Microsoft, too, is gradually expanding Windows' clustering features.

In addition, many companies are trying to elbow into Veritas' storage-software specialty.

The new version of Cluster Server, designed to make clustering easier to set up for two-computer systems, costs $5,000 per computer and is expected in the third quarter, Martin said. The Traffic Director package is expected in the fourth quarter, but pricing hasn't yet been set.