Veritas to embrace IBM Unix servers

The move underscores the growing utility of Big Blue's Unix servers, a line that languished while products from Sun gained. But IBM is still missing one major customer: Oracle.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Veritas, an important player in the field of software used to manage data storage, will be throwing its full weight behind IBM's Unix server line on Monday.

Veritas' data-backup software already is available for AIX, IBM's version of the Unix operating system, but most of the rest of its business software is available only for Windows servers and Unix servers from Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems. The company is expected to announce broader support Monday at its Veritas Vision conference in Dallas.

Veritas is bringing "a full suite of products to AIX," Chief Executive Gary Bloom said in an interview here. "With Windows, HP, Sun and AIX, we will have hit all the major players."

Coming Veritas products for AIX include:

• Cluster Server software, for letting one server take over when another crashes

• A file system, for controlling how data is stored on disk systems and letting companies use different manufacturers' storage systems

• Replicator software, for copying data to secondary locations to ensure data isn't lost if there's a problem at the primary site

• Volume Manager software, for shielding computers from the particulars of data storage systems.

The move underscores the growing utility of IBM's Unix servers, a line that languished while competing products from Sun Microsystems gained, but that now is resurgent.

However, IBM still is missing a major software partner: Oracle, whose 9i database product still isn't available for AIX 5L, IBM's version of Unix that runs on its upper-end Unix servers. Oracle has said the software will be released by the end of May.

Sun, by contrast, has an explicit partnership with Oracle and Veritas to sell product bundles guaranteed to work well together.

Sun, though, is eyeing some of Veritas' turf, releasing new file system products of its own as well as more mature versions of its clustering software.

Bloom dismisses Sun's software push. "What all the hardware guys (are experiencing is) a business around hardware that has horrible (profit) margins, massive amounts of excess capacity (in other words, a glutted market), and no window on the future that says it's going to get better," Bloom said. Emphasizing software, with its plumper profit margins, is just a way to find more money, he said.

Veritas also faces increasing competition from EMC and other storage companies. EMC has been angling to gain more revenue from its software--currently responsible for about 22 percent of its sales--and EMC plans to announce new storage-software products Monday.

But Veritas is studiously sidestepping Microsoft, finding products that improve on the base abilities of Windows. "They want to provide as many of the operating system and storage components bundled with the environment" as possible, Bloom said. Current Windows products are for improving Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server software; future products will improve Microsoft's SQL Server database software, Bloom said.

Veritas doesn't expect to support IBM mainframes with traditional operating systems such as VM or z/OS, Bloom said, but it's considering backing Linux on the mainframe. "Linux (on the mainframe) is a nice low-cost option for server consolidation, especially for customers with a lot of low-end Unix systems."