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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Commvault wants to be more than just a backup company.
That was the message this week at Commvault Go, the 20-year-old software vendor's first user conference. Commvault executives laid out plans to use backup copies as the first point for a full-scale data management platform. Commvault will open its Data Platform, which has an integrated indexing system, to third-party application developers to build an ecosystem on its backup software. It will also embrace protecting and managing data in the cloud.
"You are going to hear that everybody and his brother and his uncle has a platform. But all platforms are not created equal," CEO Bob Hammer said during his Commvault Go keynote address. "Also, there is a difference between vision and reality. Our platform has been a reality for 10 years."
Commvault enhances Data Platform
The data management platform will be built on Commvault's data protection engine, which handles virtual and physical backup, E-discovery, dynamic indexing, copy data management, deduplication and versioning. The data management layer will handle workflows, web services and analytics as well as orchestration and automation. Commvault's Edge Drive cloud-based file sharing application will connect the data protection layer with the overlaying business process file system. Edge will serve as a focal point of the vendor's roadmap laid out at Commvault Go.
"Many of you have a cloud-first strategy. I hear from many CIOs, 'I want to get out of the data center business. I want to avoid vendor lock-in. I want to go to the cloud,'" Hammer said. "There is an explosion of applications. When we started the company, enterprises had half a dozen apps or maybe a dozen. Very soon most corporations will deal with thousands of apps. And you have to decide where you want to put those apps. Do you want to put them on premise or do you want to put them in the cloud?
"Clearly at the end of the day you need a better way to manage the new apps, while concurrently managing legacy applications. The way to succeed in this universe of disconnected silos is to manage it with one unified approach."
Commvault is taking the same approach as the newly independent Veritas Technologies, which outlined its plans to morph into a data management company last month at its Veritas Vision 2016 conference.
At Commvault Go, the vendor added several enhancements to its Data Platform. It now protects databases on Amazon Web Services, to go with its previous protection of virtual machines on AWS. Commvault also added support for Microsoft Azure and Oracle clouds.
Commvault rolled out role-specific user interfaces, including an admin console for database and virtualization administrators. It also added new APIs, copy data management and integration of its IntelliSnap software with Pure Storage arrays.
"We have the technology," said Al Bunte, Commvault's COO. "We need to start building an ecosystem, create the marketplace and then create the applications that hook into our platform. We want to be known as more than just a backup company."
Hammer said the company's indexing is a primary capability for the data management platform.
"The index describes what the data is," he said. "Who created it? Where is it? How big is it? What version is it on? Who has access to it? Can I find it? What's in the content? How do I drive value from it? When the heck do I delete it?
"A simple index with a limited number of static attributes will just not work. A rich, broad, dynamic, scalable index is required to collect, modify, organize, access and easily serve up data objects. Your index needs to be able to index content information that resides in that data object."
'You guys saved my job'
Branndon Kelley, CIO and vice president of IT at American Municipal Power (AMP) in Columbus, Ohio, said at Commvault Go that switching to the vendor's software in 2011 gave AMP greater control over its data. He said the biggest benefit Commvault provided is to give him a single view of data for the IT and operations departments. AMP uses Commvault to protect and manage data in disparate storage systems and custom, legacy applications.
"Commvault allowed me to look down into the infrastructure across the enterprise," Kelley said. "I can look down one time, with one hit, and understand what our position is."
Kelley said AMP used Veritas backup (Symantec at the time) and custom-built applications for backup when he started his job in 2009.
"The first thing I did was say, 'OK, what is our position? How can we recover?'" he said. "The short answer was 'I don't know.' There was no one vision to see what happens. We wanted one single system that could touch across the enterprise."
AMP went live with Commvault in November 2011 and within five days a "significant" application went down.
"We triaged it," Kelley said. "We got on the phone with Commvault support. We were back and running in about three hours."
Kelley said after getting his data back, he told Hammer, "You guys saved my job."
Commvault's plan to hook into software-as-a-service applications will help Kelley better control his data that resides in third-party cloud entities. If he has a problem with the cloud provider or if the SaaS application goes away, then his data would not be held hostage by that provider.
"We are not dependent on that SaaS provider," he said. "It's really a risk-management step."
George Crump, president and founder of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said the main difference between Commvault's and Veritas' data management strategy is Commvault built its platform from the ground up while Veritas built its platform from acquisitions.
"Commvault built all the pieces," he said. "Veritas bought all the pieces. Commvault has a more seamless, integrated product."
Crump said the biggest challenge Commvault faces is getting customers to think strategically in their data management policy. Commvault wants to be a one-stop shop, while customers tend to buy point products to solve specific problems.
"Most people think tactically," he said. "You have this specific problem and you want a quick fix. You have to get someone to think long-term when faced with a very tactical problem."
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