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Symantec offers bare metal restore software

Symantec's LiveState Recovery bare metal restore software products couple snapshots and security features, but can it compete with the big players?

In an effort to include storage within its empire of security products, Symantec Corp. announced Tuesday that it is going after the backup market with bare metal restore software that provides point-in-time snapshots of entire servers or desktops.

The announcement marks Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec's official branding of the technology it obtained through its acquisition of software company Powerquest Corp. in December 2003.

Formerly known as V2i Protector, the LiveState Recovery products come in three flavors: LiveState Recovery Advanced Server 3.0, LiveState Recovery Standard Server 3.0 and LiveState Recovery Desktop 3.0.

LiveState captures point-in-time snapshots of the operating system, applications, data and settings. And the snapshots are created "hot" so user productivity is never disrupted, the company claims.

There's no doubt that having these bare metal restore recovery features beats manually rebuilding a server or restoring data from old tapes, but Symantec isn't the only company that does this.

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"Symantec has a lot of work to do to compete with the likes of Computer Associates International Inc., EMC Corp. and Veritas Software Corp.," the goliaths in this marketplace, said Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, Mass.

Nevertheless Symantec is confident that the new features of LiveState Recovery will make data recovery faster and easier. Some of the new features offered by LiveState products are integration with Microsoft Volume Shadow Service (VSS), remote recovery capabilities and the ability to do incremental backups while changes in the system are going on.

Analysts note that Symantec's ability to tie data recovery closely to virus protection and other security features could give it a leg up in this market. Its "event-driven backup," which uses Symantec system management and threat detection services to do automatic backups before potentially hazardous events -- an application or patch installation, user login or logout or a change in the amount of data written to disk -- take place, is a good example.

Craig Steiger, senior IT specialist at Marathon Oil Corporation, Houston, Texas, is currently using V2i Protector on 12,000 of the company's desktops and laptops. He has beta tested the new LiveState Recovery Desktop 3.0 and plans to make the upgrade. The feature that sold Steiger on the product was LiveState's ability to consolidate a group of incremental images into a single image, thereby saving disk space.

The additional security protection in V2i Protector against a virus outbreak was also a bonus he said. "It's just another layer of security. We can roll the machines back to the time before the virus hit fairly quickly."

Enterprise Strategy Group's Oltsik agreed that LiveState's link to security as well as the event-driven backup feature make it a useful product for disaster recovery. "The security sensors detect an event and LiveState automatically takes a system image. If files are corrupted, you can recovery to a point-in-time just before the attack took place," he said.

Oltsik added that the LiveState products have the ability to do a full system recovery, operating system and all, while backup is restricted to files. "LiveState is really much more recovery centric, so it's well positioned for the increasing spending on disaster recovery."

Fred Broussard, senior research analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC), Framingham, Mass. views LiveState as a cleaner, more consistent version of predecessor V2i Protector, and not much more than that. "It is helpful and ties in well with security but I don't see LiveState as much of a stretch for Symantec," he said.

Prices for the bare metal restore LiveState Recovery products are as follows: Advanced Server 3.0 is priced at $1193.95; LiveState Recovery Standard Server 3.0 is priced at $834.95; and LiveState Recovery Desktop 3.0 is priced at $69.95.

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