Veritas: Big Things in Store?
Symantec's $10.5 billion acquisition last year of storage software company Veritas, one of the largest buys ever in the information-technology market, gave the Cupertino, Calif., firm more ammo in the data management market by adding a lineup of backup and replication tools.
Customers overwhelmingly believe the combination will be a positive in terms of new product and services offerings, although a couple did mention that they would like to see the company move a little faster in melding certain products and providing information on product direction.
One satisfied customer is Robert Graham, senior vice president of information services for Farmers and Merchants Bank. The bank has long used Veritas for tape backup at its 22 Southern California branches. In May 2003, when the company went looking for data replication software, which would allow it to automatically mirror financial data from each branch back to the bank's data center, it chose Veritas' replication tool, Replication Exec.
Working with Veritas again had Graham smiling all the way to the bank: Replication Exec paid for itself in five months by knocking down man-hours for tape maintenance at the bank's branches from 25 to 30 hours to fewer than five a week.
As for the merger, Graham says he and his team have always been satisfied with Veritas' sales and support, and that those areas continue to be among the merged company's attributes. Given the size of the deal, he says, "I think they're doing a pretty good job."
Like Graham, Mike Haske, vice president of technology for BankAnnapolis, which has seven branches in Maryland, replaced his tape backup system with Replication Exec to mirror data from its branches to a backup facility in Severna Park, Md. Tape backups took three hours a day at each branch; with Replication Exec, Haske's team needs only two hours to back up all the branches.
And last year, when one of his branches lost connectivity and Replication Exec stopped working, Haske says he called support and had it running again in less than 30 minutes. That sort of performance hasn't diminished since the merger, he says, and the product hasn't let him down since.
Gregg Davis, chief information officer with San Mateo, Calif., construction firm Webcor Builders, however, notes that he'd like to see more integration between the two product lines. He says he hopes that Symantec's antivirus capabilities will be incorporated into Veritas' backup tools, so that he can scan data for viruses before replicating it to disks or a disaster recovery site.
Davis says he has spoken to Symantec representatives, who said they hope to integrate products in such ways but did not provide a time line. Symantec product marketing manager Michael Parker says the first 12 months after the close of the merger were about integrating the two companies' operations, and that now the unified company is working on integrating their products.
Ralph Barber, chief technology officer with international law firm Holland & Knight, notes that both organizations did a good job of keeping support teams in place, but adds that the combined vendor "has slipped a bit" in providing long-term advice, like helping his team forecast needs or informing them of new products on the horizon.
When told about the "slippage" criticism, the company said in a statement that customer relationship managers with the combined company now have fewer accounts, increasing their ability to provide in-depth guidance.
But both Barber and Davis stress that they think the merger will be successful—the two companies always had strong product offerings and support, the execs say, so melding the two should benefit customers in the long run. As Barber puts it: "Things take time."
* Fiscal year ends March 31.