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9/30/2005
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Symantec, Microsoft Duke It Out In Data Protection Arena

Symantec and Microsoft last week entered a new level in their rivalry with rollouts of their long-awaited, competing data protection software applications.

Symantec and Microsoft last week entered a new level in their rivalry with rollouts of their long-awaited, competing data protection software applications.

Symantec made its first major storage move since its Veritas acquisition with its release of Backup Exec 10d, which includes Backup Exec Continuous Protection Server. Microsoft, meanwhile, released its Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager software.

Both applications are aimed at the nascent continuous data protection space, in which data changes are backed up immediately so users can return to any point in time to recover deleted, corrupted or modified files.

Symantec’s Continuous Protection Server offers immediate backup of changed blocks in a file, while Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager backs up those changes at set intervals, at most once per hour.

Because of the companies’ dominance in the software market, the two have grabbed mind-share in what is getting to be a very crowded space that includes IBM Tivoli and a number of startups. They are expected to be joined by EMC in the near future.

With Continuous Protection Server, customers can eliminate their backup windows, or the time needed to perform a backup, said Michael Parker, senior product marketing manager of Backup Exec at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif. Backup Exec 10d is expected to ship Oct. 10.

Data Protection Manager, meanwhile, currently backs up a server’s files but not data related to applications such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint, said Rakesh Narasimhan, general manager for the Windows Enterprise Management division of Microsoft, Redmond, Wash. However, the next version, slated to roll out in 18 to 24 months, is expected to include those capabilities and more.

Dann Langdan, senior network engineer at MicroMenders, a San Francisco-based solution provider, has looked at the Data Protection Manager beta and thinks the application will allow many customers to enhance their level of file protection. But, he said, Microsoft competitors that criticize Data Protection Manager as not being granular enough have a point.

“There are areas where customers would want higher granularity than one hour,” he said.

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