Backup 2016: Emphasis shifts to data management platforms

In 2016, backup vendors highlighted their intentions to evolve data protection technologies into a full data management platform.

Data protection vendors spent a lot of time in 2016 expanding their backup products into data management platforms.

Veritas and Commvault put a stake in the ground for what they predict will be an evolution to intelligent data management platforms. Other vendors who have yet to embrace full data management have moved past traditional backup with a focus on recovery of data from anywhere, emphasizing management of snapshots and replication.

"These vendors are at a fork in the road," said Jason Buffington, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "Some are more to the right and are going to availability, moving from recovery to proactive assurance of availability. That is one fork in the road. The other direction is around data management. That part includes information governance, regulation, compliance, et cetera.

"The difference is what your focus is. If your focus is around the user, then you will gravitate to data protection and the availability solution but if your focus is on data, then you'll lean toward data protection and management functionality."

Vendors such as Veeam have components of data management, with its disaster recovery orchestration product, but are putting more of a focus on data availability.

"Some vendors' strengths are doing backup and recovery," Buffington said. "And some still are predominately backup, evolving into data protection and adding replication. There are a select few that are doing innovation and they are at a crossroads. It's going to make 2017 interesting."

If your focus is around the user, then you will gravitate to data protection and the availability solution but if your focus is on data, then you'll lean toward data protection and management functionality.
Jason Buffingtonprincipal analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Commvault, a 20-year-old software vendor, revealed plans to use backup copies as the first point for full-scale data management platforms. Commvault plans to 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.

Veritas also laid the groundwork this year for its moving into full-scale data management, divulging its plans during its Veritas Vision user conference. The company, which split from Symantec in early 2016, will use its flagship enterprise-level NetBackup software as the basis for data management platforms. It took a large step in that direction through NetBackup's integration with Veritas Resiliency Platform (VRP) 2.1, which can orchestrate the recovery of multiple virtual machines in multivendor hybrid clouds.

The company has also integrated Veritas Velocity copy data management technology into NetBackup. Velocity is in controlled release with general availability planned in the first quarter of 2017. NetBackup with VRP will also be available in the first quarter of 2017 with the release of VRP 2.1. VRP brings to NetBackup the ability to use metadata for action-based policies and orchestration.

Steven Hill, senior analyst of storage technologies at 451 Research, said metadata will play a key role in the transformation of data protection into full data management platforms. Metadata is typically created along with the original data, but companies such as Veritas and Commvault are looking at collecting metadata from the backup process and then feeding it upstream.

"Once data gets to a certain point, it becomes dark and invisible," Hill said. "And once it's a data set, it becomes a list of thousands of data and metadata files. Companies have been building and collecting metadata as part of their architectures but only relative to backup. What these companies are realizing is what they have and they are thinking, 'Let's bring that metadata back up the storage chain.'

"What we are seeing is a new direction. Commvault calls it a data platform. Veritas uses a different term, which is part of its 360 information fabric. Both are using their platforms to provide the metadata to all applications in their chain."

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