On-demand applications, delivered via the Internet, have fueled the growth of software companies like Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), Taleo (NASDAQ:TLEO), and NetSuite. Now, traditional software firms such as Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) are finally awakening to on-demand programs' advantages as well.

Symantec's new online backup service provides remote data-storage and disaster-recovery services, letting customers keep important files and information securely on Symantec's servers. It's aimed mainly toward small- and medium-sized businesses, with monthly subscription pricing based on capacity used. Symantec already has a trusted brand in computer security, and it gained extensive storage infrastructure in its acquisition of Veritas, so this offering should really be a no-brainer.

Symantec faces competition in online data storage from Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM) and Seagate's (NYSE:STX) EVault. It's also a good bet that IBM (NYSE:IBM), EMC (NYSE:EMC), and other tech titans will soon want a piece of the on-demand storage opportunity as well. There's even buzz that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) may enter the market.

Symantec's online backup service is in beta testing, and the company admits that it'll take several years to build a serious footprint. Nonetheless, it's encouraging that the company is getting serious about on-demand offerings, and its focus on storage looks like a smart place to get started.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares of companies mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 2,719 out of 25,386 in CAPS.