Today CommVault announced that their Simpana integrated backup and archiving software can now use public cloud providers in addition to local disk and tape as a data store. I hope that CommVault is, as they were with deduplication, leading a new wave of disk-to-disk-to-cloud (D2D2C)backup and archive solutions. While I firmly believe that there's a lot of life left in tape, especially for long retention archives with relatively low access rates, 25 years of consulting to organizations has taught me that tape drives, like backhoes and other heavy equipment, should be left to trained professionals. Small and even mid-size organizations rarely handle tape properly, leaving them exposed to data loss.
Even those mid-size organizations that understand the importance of sending backups off-site for disaster recovery purposes frequently have a courier from Recall or Iron Mountain pickup a set of tapes only once a week. Should they have to recover a major system from a failure on Thursday, restoring from the off-site backup would mean rolling the data back to the previous Friday when that tape was generated, while courier and box storage fees kept adding up. Add in that the tapes are never ready on time, or maybe the backup admin is on vacation or doing an emergency restore, the human factor means it's just not reliable.
With D2D2C, data goes off-site without user intervention, and that a good thing. In Simpana, a cloud provider (Nirvanix, Amason S3 and Microsoft Azure to start) is just like another disk repository, so the backup admin can define jobs to copy data from the local disk backups to the cloud. Simpana's built-in data deduplication minimizes both the WAN traffic and storage space needed, keeping the running cost of the solution to a minimum. Smart users will also encrypt their data in Simpana before sending it out to the cloud, essentially eliminating the security risk. The really paranoid could sign up for S3 and Nirvanix to cover cloud provider outage and failure risks.
CommVault isn't actually the first vendor to support D2D2C in the backup arena. Open source backup vendor Zmanda has been supporting backups to S3 for almost a year, and Symantec's Backup Exec has had similar support for Symantec's own online backup service. What CommVault is adding is the dedupe support, a big deal, and extending the concept to an enterprise ready backup solution. I am hoping IBM, Symantec and EMC join the party soon.
Also don't forget that Simpana is an integrated backup and archiving solution, so CommVault users can build a cloud archive keeping the newest, and therefore most active, data along with the full text index local while pushing the older data to a cloud provider. So what do you think. Is D2D2C the next big thing for backup?