Quest's NetVault XA: Unified Data Protection For Physical, Virtual, Cloud Environments

Quest Software on Tuesday unveiled its NetVault XA (Extended Architecture), a new data protection platform that brings several of its current storage software applications under a single unified management system.

The end result is a backup and recovery platform that brings unified security, service level agreement (SLA), and role-based reporting to both on-premise and cloud storage infrastructures.

Quest's goal is to provide customers a single management console to solve data protection issues related to the continued growth of storage, the complexity of managing virtualized and cloud environments, and customers' increasing expectations related to service levels, said Walter Angerer, senior vice president and general manager of data protection for the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based software vendor.

[Related: Quest Uses Partner Conference To Highlight Data Protection Opportunities ]

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"Quest has a variety of different assets in data protection," Angerer said. "We want to bring it all together for our customers and partners and make it possible for partners to work with customers from small businesses to large enterprises without the need for specialized training."

Traditional backup and recovery solutions are focused on the infrastructure such as the servers and not on the services required by physical, virtualized and cloud environments, Angerer said. In addition, backup products are generally designed with a focus on storage administrators with specialized knowledge, he said.

Enter NetVault XA, which will eventually combine six different Quest software apps into a unified offering while keeping those apps separate for customers who do not need the full suite.

NetVault XA is centered on Quest NetVault, a cross-platform application for recovery, replication, deduplication and continuous data protection, which came from Quest's 2010 acquisition of BakBone Software.

Additionally, NetVault XA initially includes Quest vRanger, which provides VMware backup, replication and recovery as well as the NetVault SmartDisk deduplication software.

Eventually, it will also encompass Quest LiteSpeed backup and compression software for SQL Server and Oracle databases; Quest Recovery Manager, which provides application-aware recovery for SharePoint, Exchange and Active Directory; and the SharePlex data replication software for Oracle databases.

NetVault XA provides SLA-based application protection with built-in intelligence that looks at customer SLA requirements only on the assets customers actively use, Angerer said. In the future, it will auto-provision SLAs based on customer assets, he said.

Also included is a single console that allows a variety of authorized staff, including storage administrators, database administrators and VMware administrators to get customized views and workflows related to the SLAs assigned to them, he said.

NEXT: Data Protection From A Service-Centric Viewpoint

Features include a common policy manager, service-level manager, reporting, scheduling, application catalog, cloud gateway and deduplication across all the Quest applications.

It also works across physical, virtual and cloud environments, Quest's Angerer said. "Customers can backup from one cloud to another or bring data back from the cloud to on-premise equipment," he said.

The goal is to provide data protection from a service-centric point of view, Angerer said.

"It shouldn't matter where the service is running," he said. "What's important is to define a service level. It's a single pane of glass powering the admins to do the kind of recovery they need. We want to provide a seamless experience from the SMB to the enterprise."

When NetVault XA is introduced this fall, customers will have a choice of continuing to use its applications' existing management interface or its new intuitive management interface that works across all the applications, said Bob Maeser, vice president of R&D for Quest's data protection software.

"There's no forced march to the new interface," Maeser said. "We want it to be non-disruptive to existing processes."

That new interface, which manages all the Quest applications, will be a major selling point for NetVault XA, said Don McNaughton, vice president of sales at HorizonTek, a Huntington, N.Y.-based solution provider and long-time BakBone partner from before that company was acquired by Quest.

"The single management interface for all Quest's products is bonding together products that should work together," McNaughton said. "And it gives us a better look at the Quest roadmap."

Customers today are working in very heterogeneous environments, McNaughton said.

"Customers are running physical and virtual infrastructure, Windows, Linux, Solaris and AIX, and the cloud," he said. "These environments have a little of everything. Quest is bringing everything together under a common interface. That interface is almost NOC [network operations center]-like. They're taking a big step in unifying it under a single management pane."

The new management plan allows services to be grouped according to geographies, specific sites and user types, Angerer said. Or, managed services providers can group the services according to specific customers. "This is intended for multi-tenant environments," he said.

NEXT: Flexible Capabilities And Upgrade Path

The NetVault XA's management pane provides default policy settings or lets users create their own SLAs depending on protection needed, Quest's Maeser said.

It can also be used to shift resources as needed, he said. "For instance, at the end of the month, a customer might want to stop all bronze-level operations to free up resources for the accounting department," he said.

The administrator can move from site to site by clicking on a map in order to change activities or SLAs and to get a graphical view of how specific assets are connected to each other or to specific activities.

The management interface also shows the SLAs and compliance level of each device and activity.

NetVault XA is slated to ship this fall, with updates to existing applications provided free-of-charge for customers under maintenance agreements.

However, Quest is introducing it now to give solution providers and customers a chance to get used to it, Quest's Angerer said.

"This is a pretty radical change," he said. "We don't want it to come out in the fall without getting people ready."

Quest has actually been laying the groundwork for NetVault XA for some time. The company in November started talking at its annual partner conference about merging its NetVault and vRanger applications into a single data protection platform.

Customers who do not require multiple products will still be able to buy them individually, Angerer said. Quest may also bundle different software applications as needed, he said.