Veritas updates Windows backup software

The storage software maker is "puttin' on the Ritz" to launch the latest version of Backup Exec, a Windows-based program that accounts for a fifth of the company's annual revenue.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Veritas Software on Wednesday introduced a new version of its Windows backup software at the posh Ritz-Carlton here.

The new software, Backup Exec 9, is a key part of the storage software maker's business--with the Windows-based backup program accounting for roughly $300 million of the company's $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

At the same time, company executives say the goal of backup software is really to get it out of the way, to make it invisible.

"It's an insurance plan," said Mark Bregman, executive vice president of product operations for Veritas. "Most people would rather not use backup" software.

With the new version, the company has made some strides in that arena as well as in ease of use--adding a Web interface to allow information technology workers to remotely manage backups and simplifying the process for installing the software.

"The instructions and menus are in English; they are not just in geek," Bregman said.

Some of the key enhancements in the new version include improvements to the way the software backs up e-mail, especially mail stored on a Microsoft Exchange server.

That's especially important in a world where the volume of e-mail is increasing and new regulations force companies to keep e-mail backed up longer, said Veritas CEO Gary Bloom.

The launch comes as Veritas is looking to move past a couple of other events in its recent corporate past. Last week the company said it would restate earnings over the past three years to change the way it accounted for deals with AOL Time Warner. Last October, the company's chief financial officer left Veritas after it was revealed he had misstated his academic credentials on his resume.

Veritas hopes Wednesday's launch will put an end to rumors that the company may be planning to discontinue Backup Exec in favor of other backup software. One executive joked that rivals could be behind the rumors, given that Backup Exec has 56 percent of the market, 45 percentage points more than the nearest competitor.

Michael Murphy, who uses Backup Exec in his work as an IT manager at GMAC Commercial Mortgage, said his company needs good backup software--in part because it has a partnership in which it is an early tester of new Microsoft operating systems. GMAC has already been using test versions of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Server 2003 OS in its systems, but it relies on Veritas in case of any bugs.

"You go from risky business to good business," Murphy said.