Drive imaging has become a way of life for those who want fast backup to our removable drive products. We like the idea of allowing our customers to choose their favorite software. Those choices may become more limited or costly because in February of 2012 Symantec launched two lawsuits that could affect the industry.
Symantec thinks it owns the techniques for successfully doing drive imaging. These include restoring an image to other hardware (foreign hardware retargeting), disaster recovery using virtual machines, storing disk images, backup catalogs, and using a certain type of GUI screen to perform a restore. Two separate law suits were filed. One against Veeam and an almost identical one against Acronis. This suit clearly has implications for other vendors who do similar things including StorageCraft, VMWare , Microsoft, Computer Associates, Paragon, Double Take, Appasure, VRanger and many others. This is unfortunate turn of events that could cast a pall on the backup industry. It will be interesting to see if the courts find that the patents have merit. If nothing else Symantec may force license fees on other vendors, increasing costs to the end user. With backup licenses already running in the $600-$1200 range per server, backup software can cost more than the Windows OS license! Given the OS is over 50 million lines of code many of us hoped backup software vendors would be bringing prices down. This lawsuit may continue to prop up those prices for a while.
A short story with links to the .pdf complaints can be found here: http://www.storagenewsletter.com/news/business/symantec-patent-lawsuits-acronis-veeam