Backup Exec's client-side software currently has around 1.5 million customers, according to Dave Elliott, Symantec's senior product marketing manager for Backup Exec. While the flagship version very much remains a part of Symantec's plans for Backup Exec, adding appliance and cloud delivery models could expand the vendor's potential reach with the diverse SMB population by essentially becoming a one-stop backup shop.
"What our customers have told us is that the world has changed, and that doing things the way you've done it in the past is not acceptable anymore," Elliott said in an interview. Elliott said the three key SMB customer concerns that drove the development of Backup Exec 2010 R3 and the coming appliance and cloud versions were explosive data growth, data continuity and fast recovery times, and virtualization.
On the data growth front, Symantec has assigned more product development priority to areas like integrated deduplication technology, as well as storage management and archiving enhancements. Backup Exec 2010 R3 also delivers agent-to-server SSL support--this is a security vendor, after all--geared for WAN or private cloud users. Symantec is investing heavily in virtualization backup, building out its support for VMware and Hyper-V in the process.
"We have bet the farm, as it were, on virtualization," Elliott said. "It continues to be a major focus for us." also said it's "one of the best-kept secrets in backup" that Backup Exec currently supports around 40,000 VMware hosts and 1 million VMware guests.
The real news--even though it's something of a "stay tuned" announcement--is the addition of appliance and cloud versions of Backup Exec. The rollouts represent Symantec covering all bases on the backup and recovery front--in other words, expanding its menu to a wider variety of company sizes and IT environments within the broad SMB segment. The cloud option will primarily target smaller businesses with a manageable data load and little or no IT support, for example.
"It gives them choice," said Elliott, who believes that the combination of hardware, software, and online delivery models from a single provider will help set Backup Exec apart in an increasingly crowded field of vendors.
Elliott also sees some Backup Exec customers deploying a combination of software, appliance, and/or cloud in the future, particularly in hybrid environments. "Our vision is that you will be able to mix and match depending on what your environment is," said. He gave as an example a customer that might use the software edition for its data center, but deploy the appliance for a remote office. "I think that's the vision for our industry--you can pick any one of these three for whatever makes the most sense."
Backup Exec.cloud, the web-based option, is scheduled for release in the fall; the appliance is penciled in for "late 2011." Symantec has not released pricing information for either option.
Symantec also on Tuesday moved its upcoming Endpoint Protection 12 Small Business Edition into public beta. It had launched in private beta in February, with the full release slated for this summer.