By Heidi Biggar
This month, CommVault Systems introduced the first data management components of its QiNetix platform (which was announced last October): QNet Management Console and QiNetix Storage Manager. A third product—QNet SAN—is slated for release in the next quarter (see figure).
"We've had the data movement pieces—such as backup/recovery and data migration—in place, but until now we had no way of connecting the dots [throughout the entire data life cycle]," says Chris Van Wagoner, director of marketing at CommVault.
The QNet Management Console provides this link, making it possible for end users to manage all QiNetix modules—not just QiNetix 4.2 modules (e.g., Galaxy, Data Migrator, and Quick Recovery)—from a single console.
CommVault believes the best way to improve service level agreements (SLAs) is to tie data movement and data management tools together. "We're trying to provide a degree of automation and management that can only be achieved through the integration of these capabilities," says Van Wagoner.
Despite its emphasis on integration, CommVault does offer each QiNetix module as a stand-alone product. "There are no dependencies among the modules, so if a user chooses to buy additional capability down the road, all he/she has to do is purchase the appropriate agent," says Van Wagoner.
Because the QiNetix modules share a common technology engine (e.g., common metadata, storage pool, policies, indexing, etc.), the QNet Management Console is able to manage each module and its interaction with other QiNetix products.
For example, QiNetix Storage Manager is a storage resource management (SRM) tool that can be implemented as a stand-alone product to discover, monitor, and report on various storage resources, or to assess storage inventory, capacity, and usage. And it can be used in conjunction with other QiNetix modules (e.g., DataMigrator) to trigger automated events.
Consider data migration. When capacity on a primary storage device reaches a pre-determined high-water mark, an action is triggered and data is moved to secondary or tertiary (i.e., near-line or offline) storage devices based on pre-defined user policies.
Movement between these devices is facilitated by a technology called GridStor, which allows for disk-to-disk-to-tape data movement, as well as fail-over and load balancing of near-line and offline storage resources.
Although most storage management software vendors tout the integration of various components, it's unclear how compelling unified storage management is to end users. According to a recent InfoStor QuickVote, the jury is still out. End users are nearly split over whether it is best to buy unified storage management suites from a single vendor or "best-of-breed" point products from various vendors (see "Users split over SAN management approaches," InfoStor, April 2003, p. 1).
"A common management interface may not make or break a sale, but it is convenient for users to have one console for all of the different management functions," says Dianne McAdam, an analyst with the Data Mobility Group.
Whether CommVault will be successful in going beyond the backup-and-recovery market is anyone's guess. "They've done a good job positioning themselves as an up-and-comer in backup and restore, but it's still too early to say whether their metamorphoses [into a storage management vendor] will be successful," says Anders Lofgren, a senior industry analyst with the Giga Information Group.
Other QiNetix 4.2 highlights include Galaxy backup-and-recovery support for Unix, Linux, Oracle, and EMC's Centera platform, as well as data availability and disaster-recovery features. This includes the ability to create, manage, and track point-in-time snapshots; define recovery volume retention periods; and create duplicate copies of data based on protection and retention requirements.