CommVault prepares to launch Galaxy

By Heidi Biggar

This month, CommVault Systems plans to formally announce Galaxy, a storage management suite initially targeting enterprise-class NT environments. Support for Unix, as well as network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) architectures, is expected by mid-year. The software is positioned to compete with leading backup applications from Legato, Veritas and, to a lesser degree, Computer Associates.

Despite its aggressive roadmap, Galaxy is generating cautious enthusiasm among industry analysts. "Right now, it's as much a vision as it is an actual product," says John Webster, an analyst with Illuminata, in Nashua, NH (www.illuminata.com). "Early versions are in beta, but it will go through a phased implementation as parts of it become available."

The initial version, which is being timed to the release of Windows 2000-will support NT, Exchange, Sequel 7/7.5, Exchange 2000, and Oracle NT. "Within three months, we will add support for Unix, Network Appliance and Auspex NAS devices, and LAN-free backup," says Chris Van Wagoner, CommVault's director of marketing, "and mid-year we'll add server-less backup."

Galaxy's three software modules (the CommServe, MediaAgent, and iDataAgent) can be configured for centralized control and centralized storage (left), centralized control and distributed storage (middle), or direct-attached storage (right).
Click here to enlarge image

Unlike other backup/recovery applications, "CommVault's vision is predicated first on information manageability, not availability," says Webster. Galaxy's modular architecture provides users with a logical, rather than physical, view of their storage infrastructure.

"We needed a way to logically represent storage that can be separated from the host computer and presented to users in a familiar way (i.e., hierarchies, drives, directories, folders, etc.)," explains Van Wagoner. This approach eliminates the burden of identifying the physical location of data, backup jobs, tapes, etc.

Policies can then be established to create logical links between storage and client data, and applied to disparate libraries. Access to protected data is based on a client basis, rather than by physical location. "The beauty is that administrators don't have know how their storage is being re-deployed because it's all logically presented, and all the hunting is done in the background by the software," adds Van Wagoner.

Additionally, a set of "smart defaults" ensures continuous data protection as storage policies and environments change. And because the defaults are based on inclusive, not exclusive, policies, Galaxy is scalable. "You tell it what to include, and everything else is excluded. Most other products can't scale. If you include everything, they would quickly run out of gas."

At the heart of Galaxy's capabilities are three software modules: CommServe storage manager, MediaAgent, and iDataAgent. Put simply:

  • The CommServe is the command and control module. It centralizes all job and event management. This information can be filtered according to geographic location, kind of data, time period, etc., to alert administrators to events requiring attention. The CommServe also houses the metadata, one piece of Galaxy's two-part synchronized indexing scheme. The other half of the index resides on the MediaAgent.
  • The MediaAgent manages the movement of data between the storage devices (tape library, optical jukebox, etc.) and the corresponding iDataAgents.
  • The iDataAgent, or intelligent DataAgent, is the interface to the specific data application it manages (file system, database, etc.). It can extract and recover data while those applications are running.

The three modules can be configured for the data center, SAN, and NAS environments (see figure on p. 8). A Web browser facilitates off-site management.

CommVault is currently working with Brocade, Chaparral, Crossroads, Gadzoox, Hewlett-Packard, McData, Mercury, and Pathlight, among others, to develop and certify its SAN strategy.


This article was originally published on January 01, 2000