#VFD3 Day 2 : Mea Culpa, Me Paenitet CommVault Simpana

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I’d like to start this post off with an apology.

To every backup software vendor I’ve worked with in my 15 year IT Career : I’m sorry. I’m sorry for hating you all these years, for looking at you as a “Oh God….must I?” part of my stack. For resenting you and your product just a little less, and only a little, than anti-virus products. I’m sorry for abusing your support personnel, in mind and thought and via voodoo dolls & dart boards festooned with prints of your logo. I take back everything I said that was mean about you and your product and your software engineers. My bad. You’re people too after all.

Somewhere, a tape library robot is requesting quietly, insistently for that old backup tape you found in your garage
Somewhere, a tape library robot is requesting quietly, insistently for that old backup tape you found in your garage

Backups. I don’t want to deal with them. I don’t want to ever have to restore them. I have confidence in them….mostly…but in my view, if backups are anything but the last bullet in the chamber then I haven’t planned my stack correctly in the virtual age.

When you’re 100% virtual -when you’ve already taken that step to free yourself from hardware and change your thinking- why be dependent on the tape machine, it’s so-called robot and a failure-oriented practice from the 90s? I want to WIN, and winning means redundancy, portability, & speed, qualities that will empower the business.

So pitch your product as a “backup” solution and right out of the gate, you’re making me think of failure & pain. Sorry it’s just my programming. You and your software product make me think of failure…how do you like them apples? How can you look at yourself in the mirror? Damnit, sorry there I go again.

So CommVault was on deck for #VFD3 Day 2 and this issue/flaw in my psyche was bound to collide unless, by some miracle, CommVault could show me a better way, a way out of the fail swamp and into the IT Hall of Fame.

Show me the way home CommVault, or get thee in my tech dustbin.

Mission accomplished? We’ll see. But I’m intrigued.

What CommVault’s pitching is backup software, but it isn’t just backup software, it’s much more than that. Do yourself a favor and don’t pigeonhole them like I did.

Let CommVault archive that old Windows 2003 VM for you
Let CommVault archive that old Windows 2003 VM for you

Simpana, the product we spoke with them about at length yesterday, is better thought of as a sort of auxiliary storage or resource manager, parallel to, but complementary of your file system, your virtual machine manager, your storage system, and yes, your old stank-ass backup software.

What’s interesting about Simpana is that it’s so complementary of those things that it’s almost -almost- a stand-in for them. These folks are really thinking outside the box here. Simpana can give you this:

  • A Self Service Portal for your dev team giving them the ability to provision new VMs in vCenter or Hyper-V and backup or restore them
  • DASH engine, which functions almost as a WAN accelerator, easing your pain during backups and file operations at remote sites
  • The ability to restore a backed-up VMs data to a fresh, naked, just-provisioned VM
  • Backup on-prem VMs and restore them to public clouds like Azure
  • De-duplication of your backup stores
  • Auto-power off or archival of old & unused virtual machines

Each of those points above are available for VMware of course, but the cool thing about CommVault is that they’re highly aligned with the Microsoft stack & vision. In fact, they

Self Service Portal for the dev in your life who breaks his VM all too often
Self Service Portal for the dev in your life who breaks his VM all too often

seem to offer a few more nuanced features for Hyper-V than they do for VMware, and if you are a Microsoft shop, CommVault is heavily plugged into Azure, which makes them interesting in a number of ways.

So if it’s something more than backup software, it’s got to be more expensive than backup software too, right? Yes and let’s give a *golf clap* for the CommVault folks because they talked honestly about pricing, even if I think it’s kind of a crazy model: CommVault charges per Terabyte. They even put a graphic up on the screen: if you’re backing up 11TB now for $25,000/year, CommVault’s model will cost you $49,500.

Twice as much? That’s crazy, isn’t it? What if you already have Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager, which does synthetic, space-saving backups like CommVault, System Center’s VMM (which has the self-provisioning VM system) and Windows 2012, which offers  native de-duplication of Windows drives?

I challenged the CommVault folks on each of those points and it was highly comforting that they could answer each of them, even if I think some of their answers are disputable. It means they’re really familiar with the Windows environment, with Hyper-V, with how Simpana might slot into System Center & a hybrid on-prem/cloud enterprise.

In short; I’m not sold, but I’m interested and curious and when the sad and tedious topic of backups comes my way again, CommVault’s going to be at the top of my list.

Ping them if: You suffer from an old backup model that you can’t seem to break free from and want to enable new possibilities with something more than just backup software

Set Outlook Reminder for when: You can justify an increased cost or can make the ROI numbers work

Send to /dev/null if: You’re spiritually yoked to the grandfather, father, son model




Author: Jeff Wilson

20 yr Enterprise IT Pro | Master of Public Admin | BA in History | GSEC #42816 | Blogging on technology & trust topics at our workplaces, at our homes, and the spaces in between.

3 thoughts on “#VFD3 Day 2 : Mea Culpa, Me Paenitet CommVault Simpana”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I received a link to your article through a google alert and thought it was an excellent read. Looking to re-tweet it later today for my colleagues to have a look.

    If you wanted to talk more about the technology please feel free to reach out to me.

    I am CommVault Support employee and want to extend an invitation to answer any follow up questions you may have about Simpana. I am best suited to speak to any technical questions or questions about Support. Happy to grab internal resources if you have questions outside those areas.

    You can reach me sconnington@commvault.com

    Again, excellent read!


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