While CommVault is trying to give customers a "one-stop shop" for data protection features ranging from legal hold to single-instance storage, there can be a tradeoff between comprehensive products and more developed single-focus offerings. For instance, CommVault customers said they're looking to specialists for more granular data deduplication.
New support for Windows server upgrades
Included in this new support is the CommVault storage resource management (SRM) module, which allows customers to migrate files between disk arrays based on policies or classification using Simpana archiving, creating stub files on the original storage if required.
Support for new Windows applications also includes CommVault's "release independent" feature, which CommVault claims can help users migrate between Exchange 2003 and 2007 by doing a full backup to CommVault, then restoring the data to a new server with no conversion in between.
Keith Price, system administrator at Johnson and Wales University, said this capability has existed since the last Windows revision, but has also seemingly been under-marketed because he wasn't aware of it. "If that really works like they say, that would be impressive," he said.
Not quite WAN optimization for backups
CommVault's continuous data replication (CDR) CDP module and single-instance storage (SIS) file-level deduplication have now been realigned within Simpana so that SIS will keep CDR from sending duplicate data over the wire. It's not quite WAN optimization or block-level data deduplication for backups, but it will at least keep Simpana from recognizing each new copy of a file at a branch location as brand new and replicating its changes over the wire to the central data center.
Price said that Johnson and Wales has CDR but hasn't deployed SIS. He is thinking about adding this new function with Simpana, but is also considering block-level deduplication products from Data Domain and Diligent Technologies. "We just started looking about two to three weeks ago," he said. "I'm looking for CommVault to be able to do block-level deduplication -- if they did, I probably wouldn't be evaluating those other guys."
But Price indicated that CommVault might be too late with block-level dedupe to keep him from bringing in another vendor, "At this point, even if CommVault were to come out with block-level deduplication, I might not snap it up right away," he said. "First-generation stuff can be hard to use, especially with products like this that change the data so dramatically."
New e-discovery, legal hold features.
The Simpana archiving module will now support collaborative tagging and saved searches on disk, tape and archive repositories. Customers can also annotate saved search threads for later review by others. The federated search capabilities for Simpana are based on a partnership with search vendor FAST (now a Microsoft subsidiary) but CommVault developed the additional features for this release.
Another new feature in the archiving module is the ability to enforce legal holds on relevant content. Users can click a button to designate that all items in a data set should be placed on hold. If the user doesn't have WORM storage media, CommVault's software will put it in a WORM file system, locking the files to prevent overwrites. A release button enables regular backup and archiving policies to take over the data once legal hold isn't needed anymore.
Customers must weigh the benefits of unified products, such as Simpana, against best-of-breed offerings. "Vendors that are 100% focused on one specific thing can go a lot deeper with that feature than vendors offering a unified platform," said Lauren Whitehouse, an Enterprise Strategy Group analyst. However, recent ESG surveys show that up to 80% of respondents preferred a unified approach over specialization in storage products.
Whitehouse said block-level dedupe also falls into this category. "I believe it is a goal of theirs," she said. "This also goes back to a tradeoff between unified solutions versus single-focus vendors."