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EMC’s quiet announcement of a program that offers financial incentives for customers to abandon Veritas storage products for EMC’s own portfolio may influence some to make the switch, although experts don’t believe it will cause enough change to effect a market shift.

The deal, dubbed “Safe Switch,” offers users financial incentives to switch to a variety of EMC products, including replacement of Veritas’ Backup Exec, which targets the distributed small server space, with EMC’s NetWorker, and Veritas’ NetBackup, geared to the enterprise backup space, with Dantz Retrospect.

Read more here about EMC’s “Safe Switch” program.

But EMC executives are interested in far more than simply ousting Backup Exec and NetWorker from their dominant positions, said Kelly Polanski, a vice president in product marketing at EMC.

The goal, she said, is to compete against Veritas’ entire storage software line, including Data Lifecycle Manager and Cluster Server.

The program initially will target Veritas’ enterprise customers who are migrating to the new Oracle Database 10g environment, Polanski said.

Under the terms of the program, Oracle customers can deploy the Oracle RMAN (Recovery Manager) API (application programming interface) used to work with backup and recovery software.

In some ways, this bold play for Veritas’ customer base is a continuation of the bitter rivalry that existed between Veritas and Legato Systems before Legato was acquired by EMC, said John Webster, senior analyst at Data Mobility Group of Nashua, N.H.

“Before Legato was an EMC company, it was the chief rival of Veritas, and that wouldn’t have changed simply as a result of Legato being acquired by EMC,” he said.

The tactics EMC is using to win business from Veritas’ customers are par for the course for EMC, said Brian Babineau, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.

“One of the best organizations within EMC is its financial services group, which works in conjunction with its sales and support organization to put together crafty, competitive replacement programs that include technology and finance options to make it worthwhile,” said Babineau, who spent three years working at EMC in various capacities earlier in his career. “EMC is taking the same concept of financing and applying it to target its biggest competitor in the backup market.”

EMC aims to improve SAN troubleshooting. Click here to read more.

The ambitious program may actually make a dent, especially given the confusion some Veritas customers have over the Symantec-Veritas merger. Customers often are hesitant to make purchases or remain with a vendor following an acquisition, he said.

“EMC has probably detected that some of Veritas’ customers don’t really understand the synergies of the merger, and considers the vulnerability in the Veritas customer base as an opportunity,” Webster said.

Although it is unclear how Veritas might react to EMC’s strike, Babineau expects the company to respond with aggressive pricing from its direct and indirect channels to offset EMC’s financing replacement strategies.

As for Veritas’ customers, they could react in several ways. Some may stay the course and see how the Symantec-Veritas acquisition shakes out over time, while others may be nervous enough to look around for alternatives.

And when they do, EMC/Legato software will be a prime candidate, along with software from Tivoli, CommVault, and others, Webster noted.

In the long term, Babineau believes that EMC’s “Safe Switch” program is nothing more than a creative sales tool that will generate more incremental business than it will replacement business.

“It’s a reason for a sales representative to have a conversation with a customer,” he said. “But it’s possible that it could become the seeds of a potential market-share shift.”

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