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CommVault revenues spike after update of Simpana backup app

CommVault attributes a spike in sales to the integration of features such as archiving, replication and search into its backup products.

CommVault Systems Inc.'s strategy of integrating archiving, replication and search features into its backup software is paying early dividends.

CommVault integrates modular components, such as archiving, replication, search and resource management, into its core backup application, which was rechristened Simpana 7.0 when it was last updated in July. In its first quarter after the release, CommVault reported 249 new customers and recorded revenue of $47.4 million, which prompted it to raise its sales forecast for the year.

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"We are getting better market acceptance of our emerging products," said CommVault CEO Bob Hammer during the company's earnings call this week. Hammer was referring to features such as archiving, search and discovery, near-continuous data protection (CDP) and single-instance storage (SIS), CommVault's version of data deduplication.

Like other backup vendors, CommVault has also tried to tailor its application to work well with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB).

Hammer said the "emerging," or nonbackup, technologies made up 23% of CommVault's revenues last quarter, up from 15% the previous quarter.

CommVault isn't alone in trying to integrate modules through a central console. Symantec Corp. is working on integrating application programming interfaces (API) across its backup, archiving and storage management applications. EMC Corp.'s most recent version of NetWorker incorporated deduplication and CDP. And BakBone Software Inc. keeps adding pieces to its Integrated Data Protection (IDP) architecture.

But CommVault is showing results the fastest. CommVault's software revenue grew 31% from last year and 10% over the previous quarter. Financial analyst Tom Curlin of RBC Capital Markets maintains that CommVault's financials show it is gaining market share from larger competitors, notably Symantec's NetBackup and Backup Exec, and EMC's NetWorker. He expects that trend to continue.

"We believe CommVault's unified architecture and expanding product portfolio position the company to continue taking market share against major competitors (Symantec and EMC's Legato)," Curlin wrote in a note to investors this week.

Still, many customers have yet to explore all the new features. John Thomas, IT manager at Atlanta-based law firm Troutman Sanders LLP, found the VMware connection and centralized management more attractive than the emerging features.

Troutman Sanders switched from Symantec Backup Exec last January. Thomas said he considered Backup Exec more of a workgroup product and he needed an application that let him manage backups in all of his firm's 13 offices from one console. He also looked at EMC NetWorker, but CommVault got rave reviews from the IT people at other law firms who he talked to for references.

"We needed centralized management of backups," he said. "CommVault seems to be favored in the legal vertical, it has a common console for various features. There's no tolerance whatsoever for downtime in the legal field. Maybe you can get away with downtime in corporate America, but attorneys have no tolerance for that."

Troutman Sanders' network includes 650 lawyers and 1,300 users. Thomas manages around 30 TB of backup data.

With 45 VMware virtual servers in his firm's Atlanta headquarters, Thomas said he likes the way CommVault's backup works with VCB. He said CommVault allows image-level or file-level backups. Image level makes for quicker restores, but requires an extra step to bring back individual files. File-level restore allows you to restore individual files but takes longer.

"We have some flexibility," Thomas said. "We do file-level restores. For less frequently used machines, we'll probably go with image level, but we don't do that yet."

Thomas hasn't yet moved to Simpana or implemented all of CommVault's nonbackup features. Troutman Sanders uses Data Domain deduplication devices, so it probably won't need SIS. But Thomas is looking at other features.

"We're piloting CommVault's email archiving," he said. "A lot of the discovery pieces are new or significantly enhanced in 7.0. I haven't gotten a chance to dig into that."

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