By Dave Simpson
October 5, 2010 -- After a lot of drum rolls over the past few weeks, CommVault introduced the next generation of its flagship data protection suite today.
CommVault officials claim that Simpana 9 has more than 500 new features and enhancements, but the additions can generally be grouped into five categories: integration with disk arrays, virtualization, data reduction (including source-level deduplication), licensing-related features, and tools to ease the migration from two of CommVault’s biggest competitors – IBM and Symantec – to the Simpana platform, according to Mike Marchi, CommVault’s vice president of product and segment marketing.
Simpana 9, including SnapProtect, has extended application-aware support for VMware and DB2 (in addition to Windows, Linux, Unix, Exchange, SQL, Oracle and SAP), as well as support for disk arrays from HP, IBM, LSI, and Oracle/Sun (in addition to existing support for disk arrays from EMC, NetApp, HDS and Dell). Simpana 9 is integrated with the hardware array-based snapshots.
Company officials emphasized the ability to recover from any storage tier, including the recovery tier (via disk array integration with CommVault’s APIs), protection tier (disk targets) and archive tier (disk, tape, cloud). CommVault also added support for cloud storage platforms from Dell (DX) and HDS (HCP), in addition to existing support for cloud platforms from Amazon, Azure, EMC, Iron Mountain, Nirvanix and Rackspace.
“One of the key features in Simpana 9 is the integration with array-based snapshots to do not only the backups and offload them off the host, which is very important in virtualized environments, but also to allow granular application- and file-level restores,” says Noemi Greyzdorf, a research manager at IDC. “This will simplify backups and improve data protection operations in general.”
CommVault extended SnapProtect into the virtual server space with the release of Simpana 9, supporting VMware, Hyper-V and Xen. Company officials focused on scalability and backup speed in the context of virtual servers.
“Within 17 minutes you can have 500 VMs acquiesced, snapped and retained in our SnapProtect pool,” claims Don Foster, CommVault’s senior product manager, adding that Simpana 9 can support thousands of VMs, and can back up hundreds of VMs and applications within minutes.
“Simpana 9 allows users to leverage the speed of the SAN and to offload all of the backup processes off the hypervisors so that they’re no longer impacting production systems,” says Foster.
“Immediate discovery of new VMs and adding them to a backup policy helps with change management and ensures that all applications are being protected,” says IDC’s Greyzdorf. “And sending an alert that it has been done then allows an administrator to modify the policy if it should be different.”
With the third generation of its data deduplication software, CommVault added support for source-level deduplication, in addition to existing support for target-level deduplication. The company refers to the ability to perform deduplication across all storage tiers (source, secondary, archive, cloud) as “Universal Dedupe.” CommVault claims up to 90% reduction of redundant data at the source (and 90% reduction of backup/replication traffic across networks), and 50% faster backups as a result of source-level deduplication.
“You can have one deduplication solution across all tiers, as opposed to multiple data reduction solutions such as EMC’s Avamar, Data Domain and NetWorker,” says Foster.
Analysts praise CommVault’s end-to-end approach to data protection and deduplication.
“CommVault is not just focused on supporting the back end of the backup data flow and integrating with disk to improve performance and reliability; they’re also focused on the front-end capture techniques to create efficiencies,” says Lauren Whitehouse, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “For example, Simpana has data deduplication at the source system or further downstream in the data path, and on disk as well as tape.”
Simplified licensing, migration
CommVault uses a capacity-based licensing model with Simpana 9, and added tools that “provide visibility into and management of capacity via dashboards, which eliminates the manual processes of tracking capacity usage and reporting,” says Foster.
Lastly, CommVault introduced Fast Pass tools in Simpana 9, which are designed to simplify migration to Simpana 9 from Symantec’s NetBackup or IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM).
“It’s now easier to transition from TSM or NetBackup to Simpana than it is to do a major release upgrade with those [other vendors’] product lines,” Foster claims. Fast Pass tools import NetBackup or TSM client configurations into Simpana 9 while maintaining existing policies and job schedules.