CommVault’s Simpana 9 release

CommVault annoucned a new release of their data protection product today – Simpana® 9.  The new software provides significantly enhanced support for VM backup, new source-level deduplication capabilities and other enhanced facilities.

Simpana 9 starts by defining 3 tiers of data protection based on their Snapshot Protection Client (SPC):

  • Recovery tier – using SPC application consistent hardware snapshots can be taken utilizing storage interfaces to create content aware granular level recovery.  Simpana 9 SPC now supports EMC, NetApp, HDS, Dell, HP, and IBM (including LSI) storage snapshot capabilities.  Automation supplied with Simpana 9 allows the user to schedule hardware snapshots at various intervals throughout the day such  that they can be used to recover data without delay.
  • Protection tier – using mounted snapshot(s) provided by SPC above, Simpana 9 can create an extract or physical backup set copy to any disk type (DAS, SAN, NAS) providing a daily backup for retention purposes. This data can be deduplicated and encrypted for increased storage utilization and data security.
  • Compliance tier – selective backup jobs can then be sent to cloud storage and/or archive appliances such as HDS HCP or Dell DX for long term retention and compliance, preserving CommVault’s deduplication and encryption.  Alternatively, compliance data can be sent to the cloud.  CommVault’s previous cloud storage support included Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Iron Mountain and Nirvanix, with Simpana 9, they now add EMC Atmos providers and Mezeo to the mix.

Simpana 9 VM backup support

Simpana 9 also introduces a SnapProtect Enable Virtual Server Agent (VSA) to speed up virtual machine datastore backups.  With VSA’s support for storage hardware snapshot backups and VMware facilities to provide application consistent backups, virtual server environments can now scale to 1000s of VMs without concern for backup’s processing and IO impact to ongoing activity.  VSA snapshots can be mounted afterwards to a proxy server and using VMware services extract file level content which CommVault can then data deduplicate, encrypt and offload to other media that allows for granular content recovery.

In addition, Simpana 9 supports auto-discovery of virtual machines with auto-assignment of data protection policies.  As such, VM guests can be automatically placed into an appropriate, pre-defined data protection regimen without the need for operator intervention after VM creation.

Also with all the meta-data content cataloguing, Simpana 9 now supplies a light weight file-oriented Storage Resources Manager capability via the CommVault management interface.  Such services can provide detailed file level analytics for VM data without the need for VM guest agents.

Simpana 9 new deduplication support

CommVault’s 1st gen deduplication with Simpana 7 was at the object level.  With Simpana 8 deduplication occured at the block level providing content aware variable block sizes and added software data encryption support for disk or tape backup sets.  With today’s release, Simpana 9 shifts some deduplication processing out to the source (the client) increasing backup data throughput by reducing data transfer. All this sounds similar to EMC’s Data Domain Boost capability introduced earlier this year .

Such a change takes advantage of the CommVault’s intelligent Data Agent (iDA) running in the clients to provide pre-deduplication hashing and list creation rather than doing this all at CommVault’s Media Agent node, reducing data to be transferred.  Further, CommVault’s data deduplication can be applied across a number of clients for a global deduplication service that spans remote clients as well as a central data center repositories.

Simpana 9 new non-CommVault backup reporting and migration capabilities

Simpana 9 provides a new data collector for NetBackup versions 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0 and TSM 6.1 which allows CommVault to discover other backup services in the environment, extract backup policies, client configurations, job histories, etc. and report on these foreign backup processes.  In addition, once their data collertor is in place, Simpana 9 also supports automated procedures that can roll out and convert all these other backup services to CommVault data protection over a weekend, vastly simplifying migration from non-CommVault to Simpana 9 data protection.

Simpana 9 new software licensing

CommVault is also changing their software licensing approach to include more options for capacity based licensing. Previously, CommVault supported limited capacity based licensing but mostly used CommVault architectural component level licensing.  Now, they have expanded the capacity licensing offerings and both licensing modes are available so the customer can select whichever approach proves best for them.  With CommVault’s capacity-based licensing, usage can be tracked on the fly to show when customers may need to purchase a larger capacity license.

Probably other enhancements I missed here as Simpana 9 was a significant changeover from Simpana 8. Nonetheless, this version’s best feature was their enhanced approach to VM backups, allowing more VMs to run on a single server without concern for backup overhead.  The fact that they do source-level pre-deduplication processing just adds icing to the cake.

What do you think?

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