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CommVault offers storage SaaS for data backup monitoring

Customers of CommVault's Simpana suite can now perform Web-based monitoring and troubleshooting of backups during off-hours.

CommVault Systems Inc. is giving customers the option of adding a Web-based storage Software as a Service (SaaS) offering for backup monitoring and troubleshooting on nights, holidays and weekends.

The service, called Remote Operations Management Service (ROMS), works on CommVault's Simpana software suite that handles data backup, archiving and replication. Simpana modules are built on a single back-end SQL database, which runs on a server called a CommCell and communicates with agents on client servers. ROMS consists of a "listener" software agent that resides on the CommCell, an agent that resides on the client servers and a Web-based dashboard for monitoring, recording of alerts and communication with CommVault service engineers.

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ROMS has Gold, Platinum and Diamond service levels. At the Gold level, if the Simpana software sends out an alert, ROMS will email the on-call administrator with the text of the alert, its possible causes according to the CommVault Knowledge Base, and suggestions for troubleshooting. At the Platinum level, a service engineer at CommVault's Network Operations Center (NOC) will verify the alert, pull the relevant log data from the CommCell and open a troubleticket. With Diamond-level service, the engineer will do all of the above as well as call to offer the on-call administrator remote support.

Without ROMS, alerts go out automatically to the administrator without suggestions about their possible causes or troubleshooting suggestions. Administrators receiving an alert have to log onto the CommCell, verify the alert and begin investigating the cause. If they engage CommVault's service engineers, they then have to gather the appropriate logs and ship them.

CommVault customers will be able to mix the license levels among client servers and move the service level on individual clients up and down. "When you're building out a server, you don't need it to be as closely monitored as when you bring it into production," said Robert Brower, CommVault director of worldwide professional services. "ROMS will allow customers to free up and move licenses anywhere they want, depending on business requirements." Users can vary service levels according to the day of the week or change weeknight service levels for the weekend.

CommVault will not offer ROMS during normal business hours. Beta testers indicated they wouldn't use remote daytime monitoring because it might cause false positive alerts when they make changes to client servers, and because administrators are already onsite to begin troubleshooting.

Customers can increase the number of ROMS licenses whenever they want, but cannot reduce the number once they're purchased. The service is billed as a monthly subscription according to service level, but the subscription lasts as long as a user's service contract. "What we advise is to start small," Brower said.

The software that runs on the CommCell is licensed at 25% of the cost of the CommCell server, so a ROMS license on a $2,000 CommCell will cost $500 per year for monitoring. Each client license is priced according to service level on a monthly basis, at $6 a month for Gold, $8 a month for Platinum and $10 a month for Diamond.

"Six dollars a month per client as opposed to the cost of an employee, especially on nights, weekends and holidays. . .if you think about what you'd have to pay staff to work on those days, seems like it's pretty affordable," said Lauren Whitehouse, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst.

CommVault isn't the only vendor offering backup application monitoring as a service. Aptare Inc.'s StorageConsole allows resellers and managed services partners to monitor customers' backups remotely in IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and Symantec NetBackup environments. However, Aptare's product does not include archiving and replication monitoring, and it is not staffed by the same service engineers that support the backup applications themselves.

Update: Sun announces deal to resell CommVault in support of Microsoft

The day after the announcement of ROMS, CommVault issued an announcement that Sun Microsystems Inc. will resell CommVault's Simpana 7.0 data backup, replication and archiving software in support of 64-bit Microsoft environments. Both CommVault and Sun have already established relationships with Microsoft to support new 64-bit versions of its server operating systems and applications such as Exchange.

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