CommVault: Simpana 9 Unifies Dedupe, Snapshots Over Physical, Virtual Storage

CommVault this week unveiled the latest version of its Simpana data protection software in order to make it more applicable to virtualized and to fast-growing storage environments.

The new dedupe, snapshot, and virtualization features in Simpana 9 could also help CommVault make inroads against Symantec, the leading vendor in the data protection market, said Don Foster, senior product manager for Oceanport, N.J.-based CommVault.

"In our internal studies, up to 22 percent of Symantec customers are looking at switching," Foster said. "I'm not telling partners to switch out the 78 percent of customers that are happy with Symantec. But, instead, they should look at the 22 percent not happy with Symantec, and the 22 percent not happy with their other vendors."

CommVault's new Simpana 9 now features the ability to dedupe data at the source, before it is sent over a network for backup or replication purposes, Foster said. It does so by comparing the data to be archived or backed up or copied from one location to another to data which was previously stored on a block-by-block basis to prevent the retention of more than one copy of data blocks.

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"This lets solution providers bring dedupe across the entire enterprise with a single solution instead of tying together piecemeal solutions,’ he said.

Next: Enhanced Storage In Virtualized Environments

Also new with Simpana 9 is the ability to leverage CommVault's SnapProtect snapshot technology for quick protection and recovery of virtual machines, said Mark Conley, senior director of Americas channels for the vendor.

SnapProtect can now create snapshot copies of physical and virtual arrays, including their operating system and applications, and store them in a storage array for use in quickly recovering a production server, Conley said.

"This lets us mount virtual machines quickly," he said. "At VMworld, we demonstrated the technology with 500 guests running on an IBM XIV array. We showed how we could snap and protect all 500 guests in 17 minutes."

The new SnapProtect feature helps solution providers bring data protection to wherever customers are, including the cloud, Conley said.

"This allows partners to bridge the gap between physical, virtual, and cloud environments," he said. "Customers can include clouds like those from EMC Atmos, Rackspace, and others as a drop-down option for storage."

Next: More Snapshot And Data Migration Tools

CommVault also expanded its snapshot technology to work across more storage platforms, including the HP EVA and storage arrays from IBM, Dell, and Oracle-Sun based on the LSI OEM platform, Foster said. This is in addition to the NetApp, EMC Clariion and Symmetrix, Dell EqualLogic, Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM XIV arrays supported in the past, he said.

CommVault snapshots also include the ability to work with such applications as IBM's DB2 database and VMware, in addition to the previous ability to work with Oracle and Microsoft SQL databases, he said.

Simpana 9 also now includes FastPass, a utility to help solution providers migrate customer data from other data protection applications such as Symantec and IBM's Tivoli Storage manager, Foster said.

FastPass can read the configuration of the storage from the master control server of the customer's legacy data protection application to import not only the data but also the policies into Simpana 9. Customers can then simply click and start backing up their data into the CommVault environment while maintaining the ability to find data stored in the older formats, Foster said.

"For example, if data was backed up to tape seven years ago, Simpana 8 can tell the customer where to go for the tape," he said. "We can't do the restore itself, but we can tell the customer where to find the data."

Next: Using Simpana 9 To Integrate Legacy And Future Storage

Simpana gives customers the opportunity to combine legacy and new storage capabilities into a single infrastructure, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and CommVault partner.

For instance, Norbie said, customers could migrate data from their older Symantec Backup Exec or Tivoli Storage Manager environments to a new storage infrastructure and virtualize it. Or they could use Simpana 9's new snapshot capabilities in combination with its universal dedupe to manage both snapshots and traditional backups in a unified fashion, he said.

"IT currently has two environments: snapshots and regular backups, but they need to be fused together," he said. "CommVault is trying to integrate snapshot management and legacy backups going forward. That's a big message. Customers are saying the big challenge with file systems is, they can scan through the millions of files being kept. And no one wants to do full backups anymore. They need a new way to do this, and snapshots are the answer."

CommVault's ability to do snapshots across a wide range of storage platforms is also important, Norbie said. "Snapshots have been around for 10 years," he said. "But integrating the connection to NetApp, HDS, EMC, and other arrays, and being able to bring them all into the index of a backup, that's really powerful."