CommVault adds cloud data storage tier option to Simpana

CommVault lets Simpana customers move data off to cloud services from Amazon, Iron Mountain, Microsoft, Nirvanix, and EMC Atmos; uses REST protocol over HTTP to move data without scripts or gateway appliances.

CommVault Inc. is embracing cloud data storage with an upgrade released today to its Simpana software that lets customers use offsite service providers for a data backup or data archiving tier.

The integrated cloud data storage connector for Simpana uses the native REST protocol over HTTP connectivity to integrate with APIs from Amazon S3, Iron Mountain ASP, Microsoft Azure, and Nirvanix SDN services, as well as to EMC Atmos storage. The API integration lets customers move data to the cloud without scripts or gateway appliances. They rent storage from providers and move data to the cloud in the same way as they back up data to disk or tape.

CommVault executives have talked about adding cloud storage features to Simpana 9 due later this year, but decided to launch cloud connectivity as part of a Service Pack to Simpana 8.

"We're not the first ones talking about the storage cloud," said Dave West, CommVault's vice president of marketing and business development. "We did not want to get out there too early because we didn't know if what we wanted to say would be hype or reality."

West said Simpana's cloud tier makes it easier for customers to switch services because Simpana handled moving data in and out of the cloud.

"You don't need the providers to get your data back," West said. "We manage data going out to the cloud and getting your data back."

A wizard will help CommVault customers set up a an account with a cloud provider, create a CommVault Cloud Disk Library to store copies to the cloud, and set policies for moving data to the new cloud tier. Simpana customers can create a policy to select cloud storage as a target, and then select any of the service partners from a drop-down box. Simpana also provides data deduplication to reduce the amount of data sent online and encryption for data security.

West said CommVault has also reached joint service agreements with each of its cloud partners.

Vendors target cloud backup in different ways

CommVault isn't the first data backup vendor to address the cloud, although the online backup approaches vary. Symantec Corp. launched two services two years ago as part of the Symantec Protection Network (SPN): Symantec Online Backup is a standalone service and Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec is a backup media option for Symantec's small- to medium-sized business (SMB) data backup application.

Iron Mountain has several backup services, including one it brought out a year ago for customers of Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM). Similarly, Seagate's i365 has cloud backup services, on its own and in partnership with CA.

EMC NetWorker offers the Cloud Backup Option, which is more similar to CommVault's and lets customers send copies of backups online, but only to Atmos or providers whose services are based on Atmos. IBM makes Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) available as part of its Smart Business Storage Cloud package for private clouds. Asigra Inc., which primarily sells its software to service providers, last week introduced a Cloud API to integrate its Hybrid Cloud Backup and Recover software with Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3), Nirvanix SDN, Google GDrive, Rackspace Cloud, and Yahoo Scalable Storage and Delivery Services.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said CommVault's approach is far different than that of market leader Symantec, which got the cloud ball rolling for backup vendors.

"Symantec built up its own cloud services – the Symantec Protection Network," Whitehouse said. "CommVault decided 'We don't want to be in the cloud provider business, we want our technology to be an enabler' so they go after MSPs. They're saying 'We don't want to be that cloud tier, we want to enable it for you.'"

Market research suggests little adoption of cloud storage so far, but data backup is the application with most interest.

Garnter Inc. analyst Dave Russell said CommVault's differentiator over the major backup software vendors is its use of native REST APIs instead of flat file transmissions. "They've chosen to deploy it in a deeper way than what others have described," he said.

Russell said storage shops are still "appropriately cautious" about changing their backup environment by using the cloud. Still, he said offering the option now could prompt enterprises to move to the cloud gradually.

"A lot of big businesses might say, 'We'll do it for a subset of data, maybe a copy but not our primary copy,'" he said. "More people might be receptive down the road."

CommVault customers with active maintenance contracts can download the Service Pack. They must establish an account with one of the supported cloud providers and purchase a CommVault license for backing up to disk, starting at $900 per terabyte.

West said CommVault will add service partners as well as more features for customers who want to hook into the cloud. "We will continue to invest in this area," he added.

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