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Commvault software replaces Simpana with copy management

Commvault software for data management re-brands from Simpana to Commvault Data Platform, strives to make data available at any time across applications and the cloud.

The Commvault software platform expanded today with a new version of its data protection software that also brings an end to its Simpana brand. The new Commvault software, which emphasizes a more open approach and focuses on managing live copies of data rather than traditional backup, is called the Commvault Data Platform.

The Commvault Data Platform will have a more open architecture supporting APIs throughout the stack and it emphasizes making copies of data readily accessible in their native format. With the new platform, Commvault software is trying to get away from the traditional backup window model of data protection. Instead, it allows customers to access native copies of data without having to wait for a restore from a backup repository.

The new platform provides rapid recovery points from the Commvault repository in the format requested by the application. A copy of data from the content store can be managed through the application requesting data. That makes for faster restores, and shifts the notion of data protection from static copies available if something goes wrong to active copies that can be used for applications such as test/development, disaster recovery or analytics. The Commvault Data Platform can replicate live copies of data along with its data protection policies.

The new platform follows the copy data management strategy laid out first to Actifio in 2010 and more recently followed by Catalogic Software and newcomers Cohesity and Rubrik.

"Today you have all these applications proliferating and creating copies of data," said Jonathan Howard, Commvault senior product manager.  "Customers want to have, say analytics, to be able to access this data set without creating copies of this data. We're looking at different ways to eliminate backup windows. We want to reduce the workload on data protection to allow customers to have low RPOs (recovery point objectives) and RTOs (recovery time objectives) regardless of where the data is, whether it's on-premise or in the cloud."

The Commvault software also adds the ability to search data across multiple applications, including data in the cloud through its cloud connectors. Another cloud enhancement is disaster recovery orchestration to make it easier to implement and test cloud DR

The open API architecture lets third-party software partners and customers write applications directly to the Commvault Data platform, so data can be accessed in its standard format. Partners and customers can also build custom workflows for their applications.

Commvault also extended its IntelliSnap replication capabilities to include EMC VMAX and Hitachi Data Systems' block storage arrays along with its previous support for NetApp arrays. It added snapshot orchestration support to Pure Storage, Nutanix and NEC arrays. Commvault software now can deduplicate data across four nodes instead of two in previous versions.

Dave Russell, vice president of storage technologies at analyst firm Gartner, said the "live copy" concept is the most interesting change in Commvault's new platform.

"Backup is great, but it's the insurance policy you hope you never have to cash," Russell said. "There is much more interest now in getting access to data as fast as you can. You might not have to restore data, but you would sure like to mine it."

Henry Baltazar, storage research director at 451 Research, said he expects to see the copy data trend expand.

"Everybody in the backup space needs to find more value than just doing backup," he said. "The more touch points to data, the more value it has. Disaster recovery in the cloud is a natural extension for this. You're going from running a backup app in the cloud to 'Let's turn this into failover or a secondary copy.' I can also see it being used for data protection or test/dev or other use cases."

Commvault will continue with the practice it began in 2014 of offering its software in pieces, focusing on areas such as virtual machine, cloud and endpoint protection, archiving and snapshot management. It will also license the platform on a per-socket, per-VM or per-TB basis. However, the Simpana brand that Commvault moved to in 2008 is gone. Howard said Commvault decided its company brand was better known than the Simpana name.

"Simpana has been hugely successful for us; it got us to where we are today," Howard said. "But with all these changes, we wanted to combine the product with the company brand. People know the name Commvault, and that's what we're going to be called. People who run our software know the name Simpana, but Simpana and Commvault are one in the same. So we're using the name Commvault going forward."

Analysts said Commvault is looking to rebound after a string of poor sales quarters and increased competition in the backup market.

"They're saying 'Sayonara to Simpana,'" 451's Baltazar said. "Now it's an open architecture and that allows them to plug in other capabilities. But the biggest question for them is can they turn it around? They've had a pretty bad year in terms of revenue. They need to simplify things."

The Commvault software launch comes as data protection vendor Veritas finishes its spinout from partner Symantec, EMC prepares to merge with Dell, and smaller companies such as Veeam Software and Actifio become larger players in backup.

"This is about re-branding the company," Gartner's Russell said of Commvault software dropping the Simpana brand. "Commvault is facing competitiveness in the backup space that we haven't seen before. There are threats from above and threats from below. Veritas goes back to being Veritas, and gets back to being more vocal. EMC-Dell is a year away, but there's a lot of talk out there. You also have players from below like Veeam, Actifio, Rubrik and Cohesity. It's a good time to get more vocal in the conversation."

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