CommVault Simpana 10 Drills Into Information Management

CommVault Simpana 10 extends customers' ability to use stored data for applications such as search, e-discovery and healthcare data management.

David Hill

March 21, 2013

5 Min Read
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CommVault is already a strong player in the data management market for backup and restore software. Now, with the release of Simpana 10 software, the company continues to make inroads into the information management space. There's a general lesson for everyone to learn from CommVault's efforts.

Data management covers non-data-path control and data use processes from creation to deletion, such as migration, replication, and backup/restore. CommVault's Simpana software solution has long supported data protection scenarios, including backup/restore. In contrast, information management addresses the content and decision-making relationship of information as it moves through its lifecycle. Historically, this was for records management and content management.

In Simpana 10, CommVault extends information management functions to content under Simpana's management, including not just backup data but other information, such as that managed by archiving processes. For example, Simpana 10's "find it and use it when you need it" strategy expresses a core sentiment inherent in a data-driven world, where data can be employed for uses far beyond the original reason for creation, such as for e-discovery or decision-making analytics using historical information.

Let's briefly explore how CommVault extends Simpana's role in both its basic use cases and in broader business and IT processes.

First, though, we have to put CommVault in perspective. The company posted $406 million in revenue in fiscal year 2012. Simpana 10 is its sole software offering. All of Simpana is based on a single software platform that uses the same code base. That is probably why the company's software development is entirely organic; CommVault does not do acquisitions.

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Any software acquisition would obviously be a different code base and probably also involve philosophical differences that could create integration and support challenges that outweigh any potential benefits.

Although CommVault can support any size organization, major targets of Simpana 10 are enterprise and cloud (both private and public) data centers.

Extending the Basics

Just a few of the enhancements that traditional CommVault customers will see in Simpana 10 include:

Snapshot management: CommVault has relabeled its snapshot management--IntelliSnap--after it sold the name SnapProtect and other assets to NetApp. But from a customer perspective, only the name has changed. Along with supporting typical processes--including recovery, backup, replication, test/development, and analytics--IntelliSnap offers enhancements such as convergence of snapshots and backup policies to simplify operations, and snapshot cloning orchestration in order to speed up application testing, development and analytics.

Converged data management: A major feature of Simpana 10 is Simpana OnePass, which combines backup, archiving, and reporting in one operation into one infrastructure--namely, its ContentStore repository, which contains all Simpana-managed information. Simpana OnePass with Exchange extends this capability to e-mails stored in CommVault's ContentStore, providing users of Microsoft Outlook self-service access to archived email.

Disaster recovery: Among the enhancements, deduplicated backup copies can be copied to any disk or location for whatever time is required. For example, a remote office might retain data for five days, a replicated copy at a data center could be retained for 30 days, while another cloud-based replicated copy could be retained for a year. Simpana 10 also adds new workflow automation features that CommVault states combine tasks to speed and simplify disaster recovery.

Management efficiency: New workflow automation features simplify repetitive tasks to eliminate run books and reduce errors; the company claims it doubles performance and scale with parallel deduplication.

Next page: Extending CapabilityEarly on, CommVault understood that the information Simpana manages in the ContentStore is an asset in the sense that it offers further value beyond simply sitting and passively waiting to be restored. As a result, the company has expanded Simpana 10's capabilities to include:

Search: One way simple data can be turned into valuable information assets is through effective search. However, search can be time consuming, so CommVault has implemented what it calls deep content indexing as well as a scale-out architecture that it claims can cut the time required for some complex searches from hours to seconds.

Access: As noted, Simpana 10 enables self-service access to information stored in CommVault's ContentStore, but part of its capability is to enable mobile users to have anytime, anywhere self-service access. In addition, Simpana 10 introduces an enhanced search engine for legal and compliance to improve e-discovery processes.

Healthcare data management : Simpana 10 introduces healthcare data management functions. Picture archiving communication system (PACS) solutions that manage medical images--such as MRI, X-rays and CT scans from vendors (i.e., Cerner and Epic)--can now store those images in a ContentStore. This illustrates not only how CommVault can successfully address the requirements of a particular vertical, but also how Simpana 10 can deal directly with archiving data without going through a backup process first, including true unstructured (i.e., bit-mapped) data.

Mesabi Musing

Trying to briefly define a broad, comprehensive new software product like CommVault Simpana 10 is not quite as hard as trying to describe an elephant in a single Tweet, but it's not easy. Storage customers focused on traditional data management functions, from snapshots to disaster recovery, can find much to appreciate about what Simpana 10 will do for them. Those that are taking advantage of the ContentStore capabilities will also see a lot to like in the product's improved search and access capabilities.

However, whether or not you are a CommVault customer, where the company is going illustrates a very important perspective. Traditional data usage has long focused on application-based software intelligence functions, such as online transaction processing. While data-driven software intelligence that acts on already created data has been around for a long time (backup/restore software is one example), there is a lot more that can be done.

In a data-driven world, use cases for stored information are much broader than just for restoration. Instead, businesses want their information assets to be repurposed to provide insights for decision making (such as predictive analysis from big data) or to deal with legal issues, such as e-discovery. CommVault understands that ContentStore is not only a repository in which to store data; it should also improve the ability to manage stored information through features, including search and access. As Simpana 10's new and enhanced features attest, CommVault plans to leverage these capabilities to continue to build on its information management vision in an increasingly data-driven world.

CommVault is not a client of David Hill and the Mesabi Group.

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