CommVault Simpana 9 adds source deduplication, array-based snapshots and more

CommVault makes major upgrades to its flagship Simpana data protection application, adding source-based dedupe, array-based snapshots, improved protection for virtual machines and capacity-based licensing.

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In the first revamp of its flagship product in almost two years, CommVault Systems today unveiled its Simpana 9 data protection software with array-based snapshots, source deduplication, auto-discovery of new virtual machines (VMs) and a fast migration path from competitive data backup applications.

Simpana 9's new array-based snapshot feature allows it to detect and leverage the snapshot capability that is embedded in a particular array. This release supports snapshotting in Dell, EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., Hitachi Data Systems, IBM Corp., LSI Corp., Oracle/Sun Microsystems and NetApp storage arrays.

The idea is to offload the snapshot process from the server onto the array. Snapshots are created at the array level and then pushed into a tiered storage environment for recovery from any tier. After a policy has been defined on what data is to be protected and the retention cycle and recovery service-level agreement (SLA) is defined, the snapshots can be moved to a disk, tape or the cloud.

"You are moving the load from the server and pushing it down to the array so it frees up the server to run its mission-critical applications. This is very important in a virtual environment," said Dave West, senior vice president of business development and marketing at CommVault. "All the processing power is used for applications. Plus, there is a user-created policy. You define the retention cycle and the recovery SLA. You define your storage tiering policy. "

Simpana 9.0 also includes SnapProtect for virtualized servers. CommVault can auto-discover and have the data on the VMs snapshot-ready for recovery in a short window. The software quiesces the VM set to ensure application consistency and triggers a snapshot of the VM data store. When SnapProtect discovers a new VM, it applies the data protection policy that's most appropriate for the VM based on its configuration and characteristics.

"We can take and move a snapshot and create a recovery-ready copy that is cataloged for file-recovery indexing," West said. "Now you have all the VMs protected and ready for recovery. We have found that 70% of our customers are using virtualization, and a surprising number are deploying virtualization in mission-critical environments. People are adding VMs like crazy."

CommVault claims backups are 50% faster with source deduplication

Simpana 9 has native integration with Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware hypervisors. CommVault also has added source data deduplication to the target deduplication it had in Simpana 8. Because about 90% of the redundant data is eliminated at the source, CommVault claims backups are 50% faster, and backup windows are 50% shorter when source dedupe is used. Both source deduplication and target deduplication methods are policy based.

Simpana 9's new Fast Pass feature eases the migration from other data backup applications to Simpana. The migration tool imports Symantec Corp. NetBackup and IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager client configurations and policies into Simpana, eliminating many of the manual tasks that would be required for a conversion. It oversees the performance monitoring, job reporting and other relevant history of those backup applications.

"This is a very bold move," Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said of Fast Pass. "CommVault has been aggressively trying to take market share from Symantec, IBM and EMC NetWorker. Its automated migration will look at the policy engine of TSM and NetBackup. The policy engine controls the number of copies, the frequency of copies, whether deduplication or compression happens and all the lifecycle management. The CommVault software extracts the policy content and says what all the policies around those workloads are. It converts all the nomenclature. This creates a way for CommVault to take over [management of the legacy backup applications]."

CommVault has also joined Symantec in changing from a license model to a capacity-based licensing model. "People are thinking of data differently now because of server virtualization," said Whitehouse. "Now you can have an infinite number of virtual servers on a machine. It's breaking the licensing model. People are looking at how much capacity they need to protect. They know the expected growth for the end of the year and they plan for that. CommVault is not the only one to do it. Symantec did it last year. IBM is contemplating it and NetWorker is about to pull the trigger."

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