CommVault Hints at Coming Dell-CommVault Cloud Storage Offering; Tyco Electronics Finds CommVault’s Real Advantage

This week I am going to hearken back to a conference call that took place a couple of weeks ago on the morning of November 3, 2009. This is a new quarterly conference call that CommVault is sponsoring. This particular call was hosted by its Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, David West and was intended to provide some insight into CommVault’s Q209 successes. But, to my surprise, Tyco Electronics’ Scott Zeiders who heads its UNIX Tech Support, also joined the call and commented on Tyco’s experiences with implementing CommVault® Simpana®.

West started out the call describing some of CommVault’s successes in Q2 and also provided some added insight into what CommVault has planned for the near future. Here are some of the key points that he shared on the call:

  • CommVault is definitely seeing a convergence of data and information management. More of its customers want one platform to do backup and recovery that also does archiving, compliance, deduplication, encryption and space management and can be managed from a single interface.
  • Increased customer demand for cost reductions and improved storage efficiency. CommVault is seeing its customers more prone to better utilize what storage resources it already has as opposed to just throwing more storage at the problem. West partly attributes this to the large uptick in interest that its customers have in deduplication and the strong adoption it is seeing in deduplication among them.
  • CommVault is having success selling into a large but mature market. West noted that CommVault is seeing its pipeline in enterprise accounts continuing to fill because of relationships that CommVault has with both Dell and HDS as well as its year-old relationship with McAfee. Of the three, Dell is definitely having an impact on CommVault as that relationship is resulting in more six figure deals for CommVault which should build upon the 20% of worldwide business that Dell already drives for CommVault worldwide. HDS appears to have the potential to bring much larger deals to the table but these sales cycles are much longer. CommVault and McAfee still appear to be in the courtship stage with either no deals or only small deals imminent. However CommVault and McAfee clearly have Symantec in their sights based upon West’s comments..
  • CommVault and Dell are preparing some form of joint cloud storage strategy. West is continuing CommVault’s ploy of hinting that it is preparing a more formal entrance into cloud storage. West said that CommVault is seeing significant traction among its CommVault and Dell development teams in regards to the cloud offerings that they are working on which is a multi-tier ILM offering with cloud storage being one tier of storage.
  • Microsoft SharePoint driving new opportunities. West concluded his comments by saying that the exponential growth of SharePoint is creating many new growth opportunities for CommVault and sees it as being as much of a contributor to CommVault’s continued growth as the new opportunities that server virtualization is creating.

Once West finished, he introduced Tyco’s Scott Zieders who provided some valuable insight into Tyco’s experiences regarding its selection and adoption of CommVault Simpana over the last three years. Zieders is a UNIX Admin whose primary responsibility is backup and recovery which he has been doing for Tyco for 13 years. Tyco has 96,000 employees in 50 countries with two (2) main data centers: a primary site in Harrisburg, PA, and a disaster recovery, test and development site in Ashburn, VA.

Specific backup issues that he was looking to resolve when he began his evaluation three years ago included:

  • Better technical support
  • Better Oracle support that required less scripting, increased his monthly backup success rates and reduced his dependency on DBAs to do restores as well as the time required to do them
  • Reduce system administrator time doing tasks such as problem determination, maintaining scripts, rerunning backups, and doing installs, updates and upgrades
  • Improve backup reporting
  • Simplify disaster recovery of backup software

He evaluated four (4) products including CommVault Simpana, EMC Networker, IBM-Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and Symantec NetBackup. Of the four, CommVault Simpana was the only one that said it could deliver on all of his requirements which, at the time, he seriously questioned.

However, after doing a proof of concept with CommVault, he found that all of its claims were accurate. The most notable improvements he has experienced since implementing CommVault include:

  • He no longer needs Oracle RMAN scripts to do backups. This reduced his the number number of DBAs he needed to support Oracle backups and recoveries from 3 people down to less than 1.
  • The time required for system administrators to support this environment was reduced from 3 or 4 people to less than 1.
  • CommVault’s base backup software reporting package is much more sophisticated than anything he has had before.  This negated his need to buy a third party data protection report management (DPRM) software. (His experiences are confirmed by conversations I have had with the likes of APTARE and Bocada who have explored supported CommVault in their own DPRM software but who have decided not to because CommVault’s reporting capabilities are so robust.)
  • The time to recover CommVault Simpana at the DR site is approximately 30 minutes. This is far less than the 6 – 8 hours it normally took him with his previous backup software.
  • Much faster recoveries when recovering data that is deduplicated using CommVault’s native deduplication technology. He found CommVault outperformed three (3) other vendor’s deduplication appliances when doing recoveries.

Of his statements, one aspect that piqued my curiosity was CommVault’s elimination of Tyco’s need to do Oracle RMAN scripting. I contacted a friend of mine who is an Oracle DBA and asked him about this. Here was his response:

Oracle RMAN scripting is really quite easy as I have had to do my fair share. Even in large environments, it really is not that big of a deal. Smart data centers should have their own internal methods of pushing scripts out to many servers so eliminating the creation and management of RMAN scripts really is not that big of a deal in my opinion, especially in enterprise shops. I have found that when data centers get as huge as the environment you are talking about, they usually have some pretty good people around that know how to do this sort of scripting.

But here is the dirty little secret. Oracle backups, as well as the administration of them, have always been kept separate from other IT functions. Nobody really wanted to mess with Oracle backups so they have become and largely remain little islands.

You have to remember, DBAs (especially Oracle DBAs) are very protective of their databases. They will want to learn the backup mechanisms forward and backward and you will probably never get them completely out of backup and recovery. Solutions like CommVault that can bring Oracle backups into the fold
of ‘normal’ IT operations is
a real plus and is CommVault’s real advantage in these environments.

I could not have said it better myself so I am not going to try.

Those are my thoughts for this week. I had wanted to comment on some news that ParaScale released this week in regards to updates to its private cloud offering but that gets to wait for another week.

I am off next week on vacation so no weekly recap blog next week though DCIG’s blogs will continue to appear on most days next week except for the holiday weekend so be sure to check back.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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