What happens when the vendor you're dealing with gets acquired and the product roadmap you've been building your business around gets taken in another direction? Well, that's a dilemma Distributed Network Services (DNS) has faced for the past two years.
The Melbourne-based storage integrator has invested over $100,000 in developing an online storage service based around management software from TeleBackup. But when TeleBackup was acquired by Veritas in 1999, and the software was merged with another product that Veritas had acquired from Seagate Software, DNS was told the software would not feature storage service provider (SSP) support.
DNS is now being forced to abandon its planned SSP strategy in a bid to keep the rest of its business afloat, and has accused Veritas of stringing it along with the promise it would release an SSP version of the software, now called Net Backup Professional. It's an allegation Veritas adamantly denies.
DNS director Jon Maratos claims he was encouraged by Veritas to pursue his SSP initiative as a viable business option right up until January this year. The bombshell came in April, when Maratos first learned Veritas would not be developing a SSP-supported Net Backup Professional product.
"Vendors are entitled to change their strategic direction based on where the market is going, but if they don't communicate it to their customers and their channel partners then it leaves us in a bad position," Maratos said. "They would have known well before they told us that TeleBackup was no longer going to be supported, and Net Backup Pro wouldn't have SSP functionality."
Maratos claims Veritas appointed DNS as an enterprise partner based largely on its interest in offering an online storage service and because DNS had been actively pursuing beta versions and information on the availability of product. He said that DNS is now being all but ignored by Veritas. "They won't talk to me now. Veritas refuses to return e-mails or phone calls to discuss possible migration paths or refund [any] of the initial $40,000 purchase."
While Veritas's national distribution manager, Nick Blozan, admits it's an unfortunate situation, he said it was unavoidable given Veritas's strategic decision to pursue the corporate market rather than developing features, such as billing, that would enable Net Backup Pro to drive SSPs. "When [DNS] bought the product from TeleBackup in 1999 it did what they wanted it to do," said Blozan. "But now the product just doesn't do what DNS wants it to."
Although Blozan said he can't speak for what other Veritas employees have told DNS in the past, he said that when he became involved in the discussions, DNS already knew the product was not being developed for the SSP market. "I've tried to be very forthright with this company from the start," said Blozan. "I've told them they should divest themselves of this strategy rather than keep after something Veritas isn't going to provide.
"I can't tell [Maratos] which way to go, but I'm sure there's a lot we can do with him." Blozan claims that Veritas has gone out of its way to develop alternative solutions that DNS can take to market, based on software Veritas can provide. But these attempts to reach a solution have been thwarted by DNS with demands for the software to contain certain features, Blozan added.