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CommVault sees data on all tiers

CommVault's QiNetix software monitors data throughout its entire life cycle -- and it does it well, said analysts and users.

A large insurance company in California with 36 data centers found that CommVault Systems Inc.'s QiNetix software suite takes an holistic approach to data management, allowing the firm a more unified view of its data.

The insurance firm, which wished to remain anonymous, said its storage infrastructure is currently in flux. It uses direct-attached storage (DAS) and backs up 6 TB of data per night through a LAN, but to improve throughput, the company is in the process of migrating from a LAN to a storage area network (SAN). It recently purchased two Brocade switches and the Enterprise Systems Library tape product from Hewlett-Packard Co. In short, there's a lot to monitor.

"We've got 36 sites and QiNetix is embedded in all of them," said David Free, a technical consultant working with the insurance company. Just a few of the features of the QiNetix suite that Free likes are its easy-to-use interface and its ability to purge unnecessary data from a disk before doing backups. "It's just very good at managing and controlling data. You can see everything from the interface, including mistakes. And then QiNetix allows you to delegate."

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The latest version of the software, called the second generation of QiNetix, includes modules for backup and recovery, HSM, point-in-time replication, storage resource management (SRM) and strategic planning and analysis. The insurance company has already beta tested the new version of QiNetix and is waiting to purchase it when it becomes available later this month.

Pricing for each module in the QiNetix suite varies. Here's a breakdown: Storage Manager (SRM) starts at $275 per host (Windows, Unix, NAS); Quick Recovery (Snap shot) starts at $1,995 per Windows host; Galaxy (Backup) starts at $1,500 per host for Windows or Linux and about $3,000 for Unix; DataMigrator (HSM /Replication) starts at $1,750 per host (Windows, Unix, NAS) and finally Recovery Director starts at $5,000 per host (includes Quick Recovery and Galaxy agents).

Though Free said QiNetix sees the big picture better than other products and that Oceanport, N.J.-based CommVault is "thinking ILM," analyst Diane McAdam of the Data Mobility Group, Nashua, N.H., would rather call what QiNetix does DLM (data lifecycle management). "At the storage level, we are manipulating data and moving it between tiers. With [its] one pane of glass solution that has many modules doing different things, QiNetix enables an architecture for ILM."

To its credit CommVault -- unlike many other vendors -- is not selling its product as an ILM solution.

And that's a good thing, said Alex Gorbansky, analyst with Taneja Group, Hopkinton, Mass. "For users, ILM is meaningless, it's vaporware. What users see is tiered storage where not all applications require expensive storage. What's missing is the automation to move data." That goes for CommVault's product, too.

Gorbansky sees QiNetix unified management of data as useful because it allows you to look across all these tiers. "CommVault really understands that one piece of data gets moved many times. It monitors the entire data infrastructure and I haven't seen another product that does this."

Technical consultant Free said the new version's ability to group servers into one folder where one administrator can monitor just SQL servers or just Exchange servers is useful. Free said that a person who has mastered QiNetix could do the job of four people -- good news for a company, but not so good for an IT administrator. "I'd be worried that I wouldn't have a job if I were on a backup team," said Free.

Free did evaluate data management software from Legato and Veritas, but felt that they both "lacked the ability to customize the interface for specific administrators. QiNetix was just easier to understand."

Analyst McAdam said that CommVault has benefited from starting from scratch. "Veritas and Legato have gained a lot of their technologies through acquisitions, so they're not as well integrated. They are still putting the pieces together. CommVault wrote their software, so it's more unified and easier to use."

In addition to CommVault some of the other big players in the SRM software market include: AppIQ Inc., Computer Associates International (CA), IBM Tivoli, Veritas Softare Inc., EMC Legato, newcomer Crosswalk, Softek Storage Solutions Corp., Tek-Tools Inc., StorageTek Corp. (with its recent acquistion of Storability) and Arkivio Inc.

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