CommVault, Arkeia Unveil Backup Software For Virtual Servers


CommVault and Arkeia Software this week launched new versions of their respective data protection software products that address issues related to backing up data from virtual servers.

In addition, CommVault's new software also became one of the first applications to allow deduplication of data that is backed up to tape.

Backing up data from virtual servers has become an important issue as companies from small businesses to enterprises increase their use of virtualization technology to cut back on the number of physical servers they manage. IDC estimated in October that the number of virtualized servers grew during the second quarter of 2008 by 52 percent over the same period in the prior year.

CommVault is changing the way it prices its new Simpana 8 data protection software when used with virtual servers, said Mark Conley, director of the vendor's North American channels.

Under the new scheme, one license for Simpana 8 can be used to protect data on up to 20 virtual servers on a single physical server, Conley said.

The company also has added new management capabilities when used with VMware's ESX and Microsoft's Hyper-V server virtualization technologies, including auto discovery to flag new virtual servers as they are created and the ability to report on issues related to virtual servers, Conley said.

Simpana 8 also leverages EMC's and NetApp's data snapshot features for backups of virtual servers, he said.

Arkeia's new Network Backup 8.0 backs up all the virtual servers on a single physical server in VMware ESX environments, said Dave Elliott, general manager of the company's Americas and Asia business. That capability will eventually be available for Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V environments as well, Elliott said.

Arkeia's backup technology is available as a software-only solution, as a physical appliance with the software preloaded or as a virtual appliance that can be deployed as a VMware ESX plug-in that backs the data up to a separate physical server or appliance running the Arkeia software, Elliott said.

The ability to choose which of three deployment methods for Arkeia's virtual server backup technology is important to solution providers, Elliott said. "Which is right for the customer?" he said. "SMBs didn't even have the option before. They need VARs to help them understand the advantages of each technology for their environments."

In addition to backing up virtual servers, CommVault's Simpana 8 is one of the first technologies to dedupe data as it is backed up to tape, Conley said.

Deduplication, also called "dedupe," removes duplicate information as data is backed up or archived. It can be done at the file level, where duplicate files are replaced with a marker pointing to one copy of the file, and/or at the sub-file or byte level, where duplicate bytes of data are removed and replaced by pointers, resulting in a significant decrease in storage capacity requirements.

"Customers will see an absolute savings in the number of tape drives and tapes they use," Conley said. "No one else in the industry dedupes to tape. Other vendors rely on separate backup products to do it."

In addition to deduping data to tape, Simpana 8's dedupe technology now offers block-level deduplication in addition to file-level deduplication. Block-level deduplication increased the amount of data backed up over file-level deduplication by eliminating duplicate bytes of data within multiple files.

Simpana 8 also improves the protecting of data from multiple remote offices by making recovery-ready copies of data available at the local office for faster recovery in case part of the data becomes corrupt.

It also automates some of the tagging and movement of copies of data during the eDiscovery process during litigation, and makes the required data available to be managed by SharePoint.

CommVault's new dedupe capabilities are important for customers looking for a single application to protect their data, said Rich Baldwin, CEO of solution provider Nth Generation Computing, which works with both CommVault and with Data Domain, the leading provider of data dedupe appliances.

"The capability makes it an end-to-end solution for CommVault," Baldwin said. "A lot of OEMs' dedupe technologies don't work with others' backup software. For example, when Hewlett-Packard brought out technology to dedupe in its VLS [Virtual Library System], it only supported Symantec's NetBackup. It didn't support Legato, or CommVault, or even HP's own backup software when announced."

Most dedupe vendors bundle data protection software with their hardware, but a lot of customers prefer to not acquire new hardware, and so an integrated solution may be better for them, Baldwin said.

And while some dedupe software like the offerings from Avamar, which was acquired last year by EMC, work with some storage hardware, CommVault works with anybody's hardware, he said.

CommVault's revamped dedupe capability, especially the ability to dedupe to tape, is a big deal for customers, said Dave Hiechel, president and CEO of solution provider Eagle Software.

"The appliance vendors don't dedupe to tape," Hiechel said. "And the appliance guys are more expensive."

CommVault's integration with VMware and its new licensing system also are a big deal, Hiechel said.

"You virtualize a server that needs to be backed up with Simpana 8, and CommVault's saying, 'Let's leverage the power of VMware and the SAN to do backup,' " he said. "CommVault is using VMware backup tools to do the backups the way they were intended to be done. It has leapfrogged even Symantec Backup Exec with this release."