What Exactly Is Symantec V-Ray?

Symantec's newly-announced "V-Ray" technology does ... something ... maybe

Data is getting bigger, virtualization is expanding, and data protection applications are ill-prepared to deal with it. This much we can all agree on. But Symantec’s introduction of “V-Ray,” which the company describes as “X-Ray vision into … virtual environments” has just left me puzzled. Is this “marketecture” or some sort of technology or product?

Symantec’s V-Ray Vision

As discussed at Symantec Vision 2011, there is a distinct need within virtualized environments to improve visibility and transparency. As additional layers are added, each is obscures those below it. Virtual machines simply lack the level of visibility seen in physical environments.

The solution, we are told, is “V-Ray.” It “provides transparency of backup images across physical and virtual environments,” which certainly sounds like a positive goal. And Symantec can leverage its “intellectual property around file systems, security, and storage.” But what exactly is Symantec doing here?

I had numerous discussions with Symantec folks at Vision 2011, and it turns out that V-Ray is, in fact, a term for a number of technological features common to many products. First delivered in NetBackup and Backup Exec, the technology known as V-Ray allows these products to identify files within virtual machine images, enabling file-level recovery. It will also be leveraged by Symantec’s Endpoint Protection security products, allowing quicker scanning when the product “knows” which files have already been scanned and which have changed.

Put together, these features will allow these products to interact more efficiently and completely, sharing configuration information and other metadata. The V-Ray concept will extend into management applications and across Symantec’s software portfolio.

Symantec also made this clever video. Too bad it doesn’t say what exactly V-Ray is!

Stephen’s Stance

Anything that enables better management of virtual machines is a win in my book, but I wish this “V-Ray” idea wasn’t so opaque. I’d love a single page specifying exactly which technologies fall under this umbrella and that this “deep technology” really does.

Symantec has great IP for managing storage and applications as well as protecting data, but they haven’t always been able to leverage and communicate this technology. V-Ray is a step in the right direction conceptually, merging their storage, backup, and security smarts and spreading the result far and wide. But right now it appears to be more “marketecture” than real substance. Here’s hoping it matures into some solid, useful offerings in time for Symantec Vision 2012!

Disclosure: Symantec paid my expenses to attend Symantec Vision 2011 and has repeatedly sponsored Tech Field Day and other activities I am involved with. I am under no obligation to the company to write about their products, positive or negative.

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  • http://twitter.com/seanjregan Sean Regan

    Stephen,  NIce pictures!  We never go to connect on this one live and Curtis suggested I find you. Apologies for not nailing down some time at the event.  I fear we must have missed
    you. Let me  give some more detail. 


     V-Ray is embedded technology and an initiative in the company to bring better visibility to hybrid environments and virtualization in general. 

    1. Visibility for single file recovery from virtual, just like we
    expect form physical.  Patent-pending
    visibility sees deep into virtual machine backup images to deliver single file
    restore without the blind restore, mount and search shuffle.  Recovery of
    single files takes minutes, not hours or even days


    Physical and Virtual dedupe without the need for a target dedupe
    device. Virtual machine aware deduplication and integrated physical and
    virtual deduplication dramatically reduces backup storage  requirements by 90% or more. This is
    part of our dedupe everywhere strategy.  Stop relyingon target devices
    when there are more effecient methods. 


    Visibility for auto-VM data protection. VMware Intelligent Policy automatically
    identifies discovers and protects all virtual machines as they come online and
    prevents overloading virtual machine hosts. MOst data protection solutions
    cannot see this happening and the backup team is the last to know about a new
    VM. They usually find out when someone is screaming for a restore. Too


     Visibility for CDP. 20/20 continuous data protection offers complete
    visibility into all data changes to support recovery to any point in time, not
    just the most recent copy.


    Visibility for SnapShots. No more snapshots in the dark.  Symantec
    snapshots see inside applications and virtual machines to ensure faster and
    more accurate recovery.

    short, you cannot protect the data if you cannot see it. V-Ray is the
    technology, patents and innovation that give us the same quality of data
    protection for virtual machines as is expected of physical machines.  It
    is what allows companies to start treating virtualized data and machines like
    real data and machines.  There should not be a compromise when it comes to
    protecting and securing VM’s.  Likewise, VM projects should not be delayed
    because of a lack of technology in this area. The tools exist.  


    we have heard a lot of announcements in this space recently.  Platform
    support is not platform support unless the data protection solution can span
    physical and virtual.  Customers want to drive complexity from their
    environment. Running one data protection for physical, one for virtual and
    another separate dedupe tool is not the solution.   Without V-Ray many
    data protection solutions only have one eye on your data.  Those that may
    span both today seem to lack some of the clarity offered by our granular
    recovery technology for example or VM intelligent policy tools. 


    get together at next bloggers day and go deeper on this. Cheers, 


  • Abc

    How can I not see my data in a VM? Ever heard of Remote Desktop? Our VMs act just like physical boxes. I install Backup Exec remote Agents on each VM and back them up.  This seems like marketing mumbo-jumbo to me. Although the dedupe without a dedupe device sounds intriguing if it actually works.