Merge two midsize companies at the center of a hot technology area—and you have a recipe for success. That's what happened last year when Veritas acquired Seagate's software assets and hit critical mass in the storage software arena. Today, Veritas is poised for significant growth, according to Chairman and CEO Mark Leslie, who spoke to a packed audience at the company's fourth annual Vision conference in Las Vegas. According to Leslie, Veritas will be a $10-billion company within 5 years as it continues to grow in its current markets and makes some key acquisitions. Given that only four companies have ever achieved a $2.5-billion level in the history of the software industry (can you name them?), that's an aggressive goal.

Veritas, which bills itself as the "data-availability company," has joined a number of other companies in storage software initiatives. The Veritas, Oracle, and Sun (VOS) Initiative's goal is to make Veritas software work with Oracle databases on Sun equipment. Veritas has a long relationship with Sun, having contributed major pieces to Solaris' file system, backup, clustering, and replication, and other key pieces of software for the Sun platform.

A couple of years ago, Veritas began to build the same relationship with Microsoft on the Windows platform, contributing elements of the NTFS file system, the disk and volume management administration tool, and—by acquiring Seagate—the Windows NT Backup utility. More feature-filled applications of Volume Manager and Backup Exec are category leaders on Windows.

As a developer of key storage system modules for multiple OSs, Veritas has diversified in ways that often spell long-term success in the industry. (Veritas' core competence is writing complex software.) Given the company's growth, those development assets will be applied to large projects across many technology boundaries. The many sponsors of Veritas' Vision2000 Conference, the representation on the storage industry panel, and the constituents of the Storage Area Network (SAN) panel at this conference reflect the company's diversity.

At Vision2000, Veritas announced the VERTEX Initiative, which will develop a comprehensive set of data-protection solutions using snapshot backup technology (i.e., frozen-image backup) to eliminate backup windows and minimize data recovery times. Basically, snapshot technology provides a point-in-time data copy for backup and restoration and addresses the problem of the disappearing backup window. A number of vendors I've talked to in the past 3 months have emphasized the importance of snapshot technology. Vendors that support the VERTEX Initiative include ADIC, Brocade, Crossroads, EMC, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Hitachi Data Systems, Gadzoox, Qlogic, Quantum/ATL, Sony, Spectra Logic, StorageTek, Sun, and Vixel.

This initiative will leverage solutions such as Veritas NetBackup to provide realtime data backup on heterogeneous platforms. The phase-one release of the VERTEX Initiative uses both NetBackup FlashBackup and NetBackup for Oracle—Advanced Block Level Incremental (BLI) Agent for snapshots. A new NetBackup ServerFree Agent for use with Veritas NetBackup 4.0 (available January 2001 for UNIX and third quarter 2001 for Windows) is designed to support volumes on SANs. Veritas NetBackup ServerFree Agent creates a data snapshot in seconds, then backs it up directly from disk to tape, reducing server overhead and eliminating the backup window.

The second phase of the VERTEX Initiative will extend Veritas' software technologies to support additional OSs, SAN hardware, and storage devices. Veritas' push to supply important SAN software includes creating a $100-million interoperability lab for SAN hardware from all of the major storage hardware vendors.

Still pondering the names of the four software companies to reach $2.5 billion? They are Microsoft, Oracle, Computer Associates (CA), and IBM.