By Heidi Biggar
With the release of its second-generation QiNetix platform this month, CommVault is taking further steps to differentiate its software from traditional backup-and-recovery applications as well as specialized storage management suites from a variety of vendors, including AppIQ and CreekPath.
According to analysts, what makes CommVault's data management suite stand out in today's crowded storage management software market is the breadth of the QiNetix platform and the level of integration among the platform's various components.
QiNetix consists of several integrated modules, including tools for hierarchical storage management (HSM), storage resource management (SRM), data archival, reporting/analysis, and snapshots.
The modules share a common technology engine (CTE), which allows users to manage data (including metadata) as a single resource from various applications via a single, centralized GUI. The CTE also allows users to automate key actions based on pre-defined policies.
For example, the second-generation QiNetix platform allows users to set policies to automate actions between QiNetix Storage Manager (SRM software) and QiNetix DataMigrator (HSM software) in a tiered storage environment. This allows users to align storage resources with business/recovery objectives and, in doing so, keep overall storage costs down, according to CommVault officials.
In contrast, vendors such as Computer Associates, Legato, and Veritas, which initially built applications for single purposes (e.g., backup and recovery, SRM, etc.), are now integrating these point products to meet increasing user demand for automated processes such as backup/replication, HSM/ILM, and provisioning.
As for storage management products from vendors such as AppIQ and CreekPath that, like QiNetix, have been built from the ground up to provide users with an integrated infrastructure, they lack a data-protection capability. "CommVault is the only vendor that has developed an integrated solution from the ground up that marries backup-and-recovery capabilities with storage management solutions in order to deliver end-to-end data management," says Nancy Hurley, senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group consulting firm.
Hurley does note, however, that both AppIQ's and CreekPath's platforms are currently significantly more advanced in terms of infrastructure management capabilities (e.g., topology management and provisioning) than CommVault's QiNetix, which focuses on data management issues (e.g., data assessment, migration, and protection) not infrastructure management (e.g., topology management, provisioning, etc.), according to Hurley.
While CommVault's platform is complementary to AppIQ's and CreekPath's, Hurley expects CommVault to add its own infrastructure modules to the QiNetix suite in the future.
Whether or not to implement integrated storage management software suites, such as QiNetix, or various point products has long been debated. According to analysts, integrated platforms have the advantage of generally being easier to implement and manage because they typically use a common GUI and leverage common data pools, metadata, indexes, etc., while point products can provide greater flexibility, allowing users to select best-of-breed applications, not tied to a single vendor, based on their specific storage needs.
"Over time, users will begin to better understand the power of pulling all of the pieces together," says Hurley.
Hurley contends that integrated storage management suites-specifically, those that combine SRM with Automated Data Migration (ADM) tools-can help users deal with a variety of common storage issues. For example, by integrating ADM and SRM users can deal with backup window issues by moving data automatically among storage tiers based on pre-defined policies, thereby reducing the amount of data that actually needs to be backed up and eliminating the backup window problem.
According to ESG, any product that can "move data on to specific storage resources [such as lower-cost disk or tape archive] based on pre-defined policies" falls under the ADM category.
The current trend among major software providers is clearly toward greater integration. Computer Associates, EMC, IBM, Veritas, and others are working to integrate their disparate backup and archival, SRM, HSM, ILM, SAN management, etc., applications.
IBM and Veritas, in particular, are "tying their solutions together via workflow or orchestration managers, while EMC is integrating a number of disparate solutions from different acquisitions to accomplish the same task," says Hurley in an ESG brief, "CommVault's Unified Data Management Platform," October 2004.
For example, Veritas acquired Invio Software, a provider of IT process automation technology, last year. Invio's process automation engine is an integral part of Veritas' CommandCentral Service 4.0 software. The two products work hand-in-hand to provide users with an early "utility computing" experience. Veritas provides the "services" piece, Invio the automation component.
But while Hurley has no doubts that these vendors will be able to provide policy-based integration among their platforms, she believes CommVault may still have a competitive edge. "[Other vendors' approaches] are not quite as streamlined as CommVault's approach," writes Hurley.
CommVault claims to have added about 100 new features/enhancements to the latest release of QiNetix, including the integration/automation features mentioned above. Highlights include a new data-protection administration feature called Recovery Directory, which allows for easier administration of snapshots and replication; support for Network Appliance's SnapVault, Hitachi Data Systems' copy technologies for open systems, and Microsoft's Volume ShadowCopy Service (VSS); "one-touch" restores; as well as a variety of new compliance- and data life-cycle management enhancements.
In terms of specific modules, DataArchiver has new content-indexing search and re-migration capabilities and now supports all content-addressed storage (CAS) systems, including EMC's Centera and NetApp's SnapLock; Data Migrator 5.9 now supports all NAS filers; and QNet Service Manager provides more-detailed reporting, trending, and analysis tools.
Component pricing for the second generation of QiNetix starts at $795.