Symantec to shut down Backup Exec.cloud

In message to users, Symantec says lack of mobile, sync, and share features limited the backup and recovery service

Symantec plans to close down its Backup Exec.cloud service, saying it lacks mobile and content-sharing features and wouldn't be the right platform for delivering them.

Backup Exec.cloud is a pure cloud-based offering designed to make it easy for small businesses and remote branch offices to back up their data. It was announced in February 2012.

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Symantec disclosed its plans to shut down the service in an email to channel partners that was seen by IDG News Service. A FAQ about the shutdown was on Symantec's site earlier on Tuesday but appears to have been removed. In its email to channel partners, Symantec said it would start informing end-users by email in early December. The company will stop selling subscriptions or renewals for Backup Exec.cloud on Jan. 6, 2014.

Cloud-based options for both backing up data and working with files have proliferated in recent years and taken on growing importance as more employees work at home and on the road. Backup Exec.cloud, introduced along with Symantec's Backup Exec 2012 product suite, is a stand-alone system focused on off-premises data protection for sites with no IT staff.

"Customers want features such as sync & share and mobile access. Backup Exec.cloud was not designed with these features in mind," Symantec's FAQ said. "As a result, Symantec has decided to discontinue Backup Exec.cloud in order to focus on more productive and feature-rich cloud-based applications which include this type of functionality."

Symantec offers a range of other data protection products, including on-premise and hybrid backup and recovery, as well as Norton Zone for file synchronization and sharing. It will continue to invest in backup and recovery products, including its on-premise Backup Exec product and its NetBackup software, and will expand the functionality of Norton Zone, the company said.

Asked for comment on the change, Symantec said it was simplifying its product lineup.

"As we align with our new offering strategy and efforts to streamline our product range to provide fewer, more integrated solutions for our customers, Symantec has made the decision to retire Backup Exec.cloud," the company said in a statement. "We are firmly committed to doing everything we can to help our partners and customers successfully navigate this process."

In January, Symantec announced a reorganization of its software business under president and CEO Steve Bennett, appointed in 2012, that is focused on more integrated products.

Cloud-based backup has both grown in popularity and become more complex over the past several years, said Eran Farajun, executive vice president of Asigra, which supplies software for cloud backup services from companies including Hewlett-Packard and Terremark.

Among other things, enterprises need to back up data from more locations, including virtual machines, mobile devices and cloud-based services such as Salesforce.com, he said. Meanwhile, the per-gigabit price of cloud backup has fallen as the volume of data involved continues to grow. However, there's still room for stand-alone cloud-based backup, Farajun believes.

The service and support for it will cease on Jan. 6, 2015. Existing customers will be able to keep using Backup Exec.cloud until the end of their annual subscriptions. For customers with multiyear subscriptions that go beyond that date, Symantec will provide information about refunds at a later date, according to the FAQ. Users are entitled to Backup Exec on-premises backup software for 35 percent off list price, Symantec said. The company also suggested Norton Zone as an alternative for some customers.

Users will have to migrate their own data to any alternative service. "We are here to help you navigate this process, but we are not able to provide any data migration services as part of this announcement," Symantec said in the FAQ.

Customers' data in the cloud will be deleted after their subscriptions expire. However, customers shouldn't have to download all the data after expiration because it will already exist on their own PCs and servers, the company said. The service is a near-term backup that normally maintains data for just 90 days.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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