Data storage system maker CommVault launched on July 9 the first major revamp of its front-line storage management software product suite since it was introduced four years ago, featuring deduplication, enterprise search and faster I/O performance.
A company spokesperson described the new Simpana 7.0 software suite, which replaces the Oceanport, N.J. companys original QiNetix data management product, as the “largest release in CommVaults history.”
Simpana 7.0 uses a single sign-on, Web-based approach to data protection, replication and archive across all tiers of storage. Thus, a single administrator can set all policies and authentications of a companys storage from one workstation, and business users can access any tier of storage needed to get the job done, from anywhere in the company.
Simpana 7.0 offers next-generation-type enhancements to data protection, archiving and replication, said David West, CommVault vice president of marketing and business development.
These include enterprise-wide search and discovery, single-instance storage (otherwise known as deduplication), high-performance content indexing, data classification, expanded security and encryption capabilities, and post-processing for encryption/content indexing/SIS, West said.
West said that the biggest factor that separates CommVault from competitors such as Symantec Veritas, EMC, and others is that all these features can be utilized through a single management interface.
“Our competitors typically develop and build point solutions for specific services or features and add them to their overall product portfolio,” West told eWEEK.
“When they see that the market is moving beyond disk backup to include archiving, migration and others, they put out a Product X for backup, and a Product Y for archive, and a Product Z for something else, and the list goes down. We fundamentally disagree with that approach.”
CommVault looks at the storage and security problem a customer is trying to solve, and then offers one product with various “plug-in”-type options, West said.
“There is a 70 percent commonality among all those products. Everyone of them has a data mover, an interface, an index … so our approach is: Lets unify this into a single common architecture. When you buy our product, you have one product, and you just license which of those things [features] you want,” West said.
The result in using this approach is very clear, he said. “The unifed, singular approach to data management approach is cheaper. It saves time, saves support.”
IBM, Symantec Veritas, and Hewlett-Packard, three of the largest data storage vendors, have been touting their own “unified” approach to NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) by coming out with controllers, for example, that can work with both types of systems. Are they late to the market?
“Yes, they are,” West said. “Weve basically had the unified approach label stolen from us. CommVault has always used this approach, because it really makes the most sense.
“We believe that [all Commvaults competitors] are fundamentally in the same category of Lets address it with multiple point products,” West said. “Now theyre saying they all have a unified approach, since they claim their point products can work together. Well, were moving beyond unified to a new level. Were now calling our new approach Singular Information Management.”
Lauren Whitehouse, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., agreed with West.
“IBM has been offering their backup and archiving in a unified way for several years, and they do a very good job with that,” Whitehouse told eWEEK. “But they dont offer replication in the package.
“HP has a CDP (continuous data protection) product that offers backup and a virtual tape library and other features, but those are OEMd from partners, so the company has had to make all these things talk to each other. That can be problematic. Symantec Veritas just came out with Storage United, but that also includes products created by other OEMs,” Whitehouse said.
CommVaults products and features have always been built from the ground up, and they dont have to be “retrofitted to fit into other products,” Whitehouse said.
Single Search Interface
With Simpana, corporate users—and not just IT managers—can now access in real time all the companys current and historical information through a Web-based interface, CommVaults West said.
The suites new Business User Search feature helps organizations to respond to legal discovery actions and compliance audits, West said. Business people can use direct search to access documents, files and e-mails stored online and in backup and archive copies.
Through a single interface, users can gain data access to quickly respond to discovery requests driven by various regulations both in the United States and abroad, such as the U.S. FRCP (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), SEC Rule 17a, the Companies Act in the UK, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Basel II, and others.
The search capability makes data that has been locked in backup or archive copies instantly available from that single search interface, West said. In a single search using keywords or phrases, the user is presented with all the relevant items—including their online and offline managed copies—across different client and application systems, he said.
A key under-the-hood update is the “widening of the suites back-end data pipe, which is a proprietary portion of code that links the front end to a back-end storage device. The data pipe has been updated to support many more concurrent data streams across a LAN, from an average of 25 to 50 concurrent pipes to around 200, West said.
Also new is SmartClient, an agent on the client server that scans the file system in the background and queues up all changes for presentation to the backup agent ahead of an incremental backup, West said.
“A package like the CommVault Simpana 7.0 software suite with its single architecture, improves access to information and delivers additional business value by providing customers the capability to organize data in ways that leverage the integration of data protection, archive, replication, storage management and classification,” said Rhoda Phillips, IDC storage software research manager.
Steve Weiskircher, director of IT for consumer electronic retailer Crutchfield Corp. and a longtime CommVault customer, told eWEEK that his backup routine for his 120 servers is “basically set it and forget it. We do a full weekly backup, plus an incremental nightly backup, and its been uneventful, which is very good.”
CommVault backs up Crutchfields file servers, databases, domain servers, and all supporting business data, Weiskircher said.
Crutchfield bought CommVault first in 2003 because “they offered full support for Microsoft Exchange, SQL and SharePoint [servers],” Weiskircher said. “We like the full SharePoint backup and recovery, the fact that you can find individual e-mail messages through Exchange server, and tape encryption on the fly. These are all great capabilities.”
Balancing the need to keep more managed data available online is an ongoing battle, compared to the cost of deploying more disks, said Marty Hurd, IT administrator, Cardinal Logistics, a supply chain logistics company based in Concord, N.C.
“CommVaults SIS option provides us with a path to maximize our disk utilization, by eliminating duplicate copies. We expect that CommVault Simpana 7.0 software will allow us to derive new returns off the investment in our disk-based strategy, thereby opening up opportunities for IT to add value back to our business.”
The CommVault Simpana 7.0 suite, including all its features and enhancements, is available now. Pricing for specific configurations is available upon request, West said.
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