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Symantec Protection Network -- Online Backup, How Innovative?

This week Symantec released the first services from its previously announced Symantec Protection Network (SPN) and, as Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise," online backup. Symantec Online Backup is a middle of the road service for small businesses that should have some appeal, especially after Symantec takes the time to add a few features the competition already has. Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec, on the other hand, breaks new ground providing online off-site backup cap
This week Symantec released the first services from its previously announced Symantec Protection Network (SPN) and, as Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise," online backup. Symantec Online Backup is a middle of the road service for small businesses that should have some appeal, especially after Symantec takes the time to add a few features the competition already has. Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec, on the other hand, breaks new ground providing online off-site backup capabilities to the legions of Windows shops running Backup Exec after they update to the new version 12.Someone in Symantec's marketing department really should have realized that Symantec Online Backup will naturally be abbreviated SOB and that that creates too many opportunities for bad jokes for some with less restraint than this blogger. That aside, Symantec did do some things right; a small business can create one account to protect an unlimited number of Windows workstations and/or servers and pay based on the size of the data to be protected and the length of time your data should be retained. Rates start at $43 a month for 10 GB, with a year's data retention. Overages are $5.10 GB, but we expect Symantec will come up with plans at lower rates for larger customers.

The agent monitors the NTFS change log, journals changes to the local disk, and updates your data at Symantec's two geographically diverse data centers up to once every 15 minutes. Symantec stores all the previous versions of files for 24 hours and then reduces the number of snapshots stored in multiple steps until monthly versions are stored for a year and annual snapshots for up to 7 years.

On the downside, there's no Mac client and it left out support for Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint. Amazingly enough, Symantec Online Backup doesn't support Vista or Server 2008, even though the former has been on the market more than a year.

Symantec also is pitching SPN as more than just backup but the platform for a raft of new software as a service options while playing coy about exactly what the next batch of services will be or when they'll be appearing. In fact, it sounded a lot like EMC did announcing its Fortress platform with Mozy Corporate as the first offering. Peering in my crystal ball, I see services leveraging their e-mail archiving, antivirus, and Brightmail anti-spam technologies coming someday.

More on Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec as I test it for a review of Backup Exec 12 in an upcoming InformationWeek.

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