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Symantec and VMware partner for improved management integration

Integration of server clustering and failover with virtual servers signals a change in the relationship between Symantec and VMware to one of cooperation instead of competition.

Symantec Corp.'s server clustering and failover application and VMware Inc.'s virtual servers will receive joint support and deeper management integration, signaling signs of a thaw in what has been a frosty relationship between the two vendors.

Symantec has integrated its Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) with VMware's VMotion for high availability and added application-aware failover support for VMWare's vCenter virtualization management software to VCS. Customers of Symantec's VCS and VMware's ESX can now get joint support through Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet), which provides back-end databases for coordination and communication between support teams from both companies.

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The new integration shows the companies are working together differently than they were six months ago, when Symantec officials were about among the most outspoken in the storage market VMware's intrusion into storage, especially with its proprietary VMFS clustered file system.

"I don't think our overall strategy is changed," said Mark Lohmeyer, vice president of the Veritas Cluster Server group for Symantec. "We try to work with everyone."

Making VMotion migrations smarter

The integration of VCS with VMware's VMotion migration feature through VMware's vStorage API means if a server is intentionally migrated by a user from one hardware device to another, VCS won't treat it like a failure. VCS will also have the ability to move applications by triggering VMotion.

While VMware customers can use VMware's high availability for virtual machine failover, VCS can provide more granular protection for applications running in VMware's ESX hypervisor, said IDC analyst Jean Bozman.

"VMware high availability can move the entire image of an ESX server," Bozman said. "But when you get to the granularity of protecting an application within ESX, Symantec software will protect that particular application."

Bozman said the new cooperation between Symantec and VMware speaks to how the ESX server is being deployed more widely and in different ways than in the past. According to IDC research, users average more than 10 virtual machines per physical server now – up from between two and four virtual machines per physical server in 2006 and 2007. "More virtual machines per physical server means that physical server is more likely to get high availability planning," Bozman said.

Cooperation follows CEO changes

Although Symantec's Mark Lohmeyer played down any past differences between his company and VMware, Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf pointed out that this new cooperation comes after a change in leadership at both companies. Paul Maritz took over for Diane Greene as VMware CEO in June, and Symantec chief operating officer Enrique Salem will step up to replace CEO John Thompson when he retires next spring.

"I don't think it can be discounted that there's a new sheriff in down," Wolf said of Maritz. "Some storage partners, I think, are starting the conversation with VMware over again and getting a new answer."

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