CommVault to combine backup, archive functions

It plans to launch its virtual data repository in the next month

NEW YORK -- CommVault plans to announce a significant upgrade to its flagship Simpana backup software in the next several weeks that will blur the lines between backup and archive.

The upgrade will allow companies to set policies on Simpana that will automatically move backed-up data to nearline storage or a tape library and leave a stub for end users to click on if they want to retrieve the data. To them, it will appear as if the data has not moved, according to CommVault CEO Bob Hammer.

"Separate archive and backup doesn't make sense; It's too costly to have two copies of data. When you want to move the data, you should move it one time," Hammer said, referring to the way backups are copied to archives today.

Hammer spoke to a group of customers and reporters after a bell-ringing ceremony at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange here on Monday. He said the company eventually plans to create a backup product using a global name space so that object-based data can be accessed, no matter where it's stored. Object-based data store is a feature that will be available in the next release.

The global name space, along with data discovery features, are expected in the next 12 to 15 months, he said, adding that the software's data analytics capabilities will surpass those of Hadoop.

For Bart Hecht, CTO of Levi Strauss & Co., creating a layer of abstraction between backup and archive fits right into his data management concept.

"I'm looking for a data management strategy, not backup," he said. "I don't believe in DR [disaster recovery]. I believe we should have highly available systems that are online, on time, 7-by-24 and we should not be using alternative backup facilities. The way we like to drive our HA [high availability] and DR is to take the same paradigm: never down."

When Hecht became Levi's first CTO almost three years ago, the company had disparate backup policies and primary backups took more than 24 hours to complete. The company's SANs are mostly from EMC, along with some IBM hardware.

"We used to have a 90% backup success ratio," he said. "Now we're approaching Six Sigma standards in under a year. It's reduced our total cost of ownership, dropped our defect (server and backup incidents) by 44%, and I'm not burning resources having people run around to fix problems."

Over the past year, Hecht standardized the company's backup practices using CommVault's Simpana 9 software, giving him a single view of his corporate backup environment. Levi's IT department has worked to create a virtualized server infrastructure. To date, the company is about 65% virtual, a strategy that a single backup environment compliments.

Similar to Levi's, American Municipal Power (AMP) was dealing with many backup silos, some of which took up to 36 hours to complete, "so you never actually got a full backup," said AMP CIO Branndon Kelley.

"We were getting multiple full backups a day on systems we weren't able to backup," Kelley added. "We were a victim of our own craziness. It had been so convoluted, and no one knew what was going on."

Kelley is also in the midst of standardizing his infrastructure using CommVault.

"I want one pane of glass," he said.

Hammer said Simpana will eventually allow users to perform electronic discovery requests and move data sets into repositories where deeper analytics can be applied to them, he said. "If I'm a global company and have 1,000 different sites, I want to be able to perform a search [for data] virtually.

"This is a very sophisticated file system and development still needs to be done to create a global name space dynamically and at scale over and above what Hadoop does today," Hammer said. "CommVault's going to be a very different company five years from now."

More immediately, CommVault plans to allow customers to automate the restoration of virtual machines for disaster recovery or business continuity. If, for example, a primary site goes down, the Simpana software will first rebuilt virtual machines on servers and then restore the data and applications associated with those servers, Hammer said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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