Veeam has successfully fended off a patent infringement suit brought by Symantec over how Veeam does its backups. Yet, Symantec did not bring a suit against VMware, which created the underlying technology that Veeam employs for pulling data from a vSphere environment. When you look at the court case, it is about older technology and older patents, not Veeam’s latest innovations. I found this rather interesting—that instead of going after VMware, Symantec tried to sue the little guy out of existence. We all know this is not the first time someone has tried to do that.
However, Veeam is no longer little. It had deep enough pockets to fight off the suit, but others do not. Symantec saw this as a way to gain back some of its dwindling market share in the virtualization backup space. How will this change now that Symantec is two companies, with Veritas Technologies Corporation taking over its data protection tools?
Veeam and Symantec History
Symantec was losing market share to Veeam due to its initial failure to develop a virtualization backup tool that fully integrated into its existing products Backup Exec and NetBackup. After many years, it finally did something, but it was still always lagging behind. In the meantime, Veeam, Vizioncore (then Quest, then Dell), and PHD Virtual (now Unitrends), worked on innovative ways to improve virtualization backup. They eventually released a set of data-protection tools that provided not only backup, but also replications, DR, and everything one needs to achieve data protection in the hybrid cloud. Symantec was, and in many ways is still is, late to the game.
This is often the case with big and small companies. The big ones move slowly, while the small ones continue to innovate. Veeam looks at the world as an agentless environment and extends into the hybrid cloud. Symantec has concentrated on integrating virtualization data protection into an agent-full legacy environment, one in which agentless backup is not really necessary.
Agent-full vs. agentless has never been the question. The real questions have been: “How fast can I back up?” “Where can I restore my backups as needed—Into a cloud? Onto a physical server? Into even another virtual environment?”
The lawsuit failed to stop Veeam, but other lawsuits from Symantec have forced other companies to change their directions and not play in the virtualization or cloud space. Symantec’s efforts have limited the scope of products in the virtual and cloud environment data protection space. We are seeing an increase in smaller companies entering this space by first targeting Hyper-V, then considering whether to branch out to other services. However, Veeam has embraced Hyper-V and the hybrid cloud, underlying storage technologies, and even tape. Proving that the Symantec patents do not apply to its technology further assists it.
While Symantec has not stopped Veeam, it has stopped others. I see these types of lawsuits as stifling innovation instead of promoting it. We should be able to look at an idea and derive something new from it. If we cannot derive something new from an existing idea, then how can we innovate and make better products? I would like to see a stop to such lawsuits.
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