‘Rip and Replace’ becomes more than Acceptable when Used in the Context of ROI

In a recent analyst conference call CommVault’s VP of Marketing and Business Development, Dave West, pulled no punches about how CommVault wants enterprise organizations to view it in regards to backup modernization. While CommVault is certainly happy to assist those enterprise organizations that want to make incremental changes to their backup infrastructures, that is not who CommVault is specifically targeting.  Rather CommVault is seeking out those customers and prospects that are ready to do a wholesale rip and replace of their existing data management products and go with a more modern solution.

That’s a pretty aggressive position to take in any market and especially so in the enterprise data storage and electronically stored information (ESI) space. Changes in how enterprise organizations manage their data and information usually are done over periods of years, not weeks or months, and phrases like “rip and replace” are almost never uttered. But new economic pressures and fundamental changes in how data and information is managed are making it apparent that more enterprise organizations are willing to make this type of dramatic shift in direction when the payback is right.

CommVault certainly seems to have no problem finding enterprise organizations that are willing to consider such changes, execute on them and then go on the record and talk about them. Last week’s conference call had the IT Director from a large Midwestern retailer joining West to speak about his decision to make a wholesale change from Symantec to CommVault® Simpana® software.

Like many IT managers currently looking to improve their backup situation, he started from the premise in the spring of 2009 that he was going to make some incremental changes to his company’s backup environment. Responsible for IT services in his company’s main office as well as its over 200 remote store locations, making dramatic changes to this size environment on short notice is generally ill-advised. But a couple of factors forced him to alter his plans.

First, he was planning on upgrading all of his company’s servers to Windows 2008 during the summer of 2009. Since he was using the native NTBackup utility found on previous versions of Windows at his remote sites, he assumed he would continue to do so after the upgrade to Windows 2008.  However as he began his preparations to roll out Windows 2008, he discovered that Microsoft has substantially changed its NTBackup utility.  He says, “Microsoft decimated how it used to work.

Second, since he was most familiar with Symantec, he just assumed that he would continue down that path. But problems that he had with Symantec’s antivirus product led to concerns about an expanded use of Backup Exec. He feared that if he moved to a larger deployment of Backup Exec that he would run into issues similar to what he experienced with Symantec’s anti-virus software.

This prompted him to step back and re-evaluate how to proceed but his problems were now three fold.

  • The clock was ticking. He had to get the roll-out of Windows 2008 done during the summer of 2009 but he only had 2-3 months to select a solution, develop an implementation plan and then roll it out.
  • His company used interns during the summer months to do roll outs in its stores. This meant the implementation had to be simple and not require a lot of expensive professional services.
  • He wanted to simplify backups. Despite his company’s history of use with NTBackup in its remote store locations, he found the quality of the backups suspect plus it required a lot of manual scripting and scheduling to maintain.

But maybe most importantly he wanted to put in place a platform that would meet his company’s needs now and into the future. Just because he was under these three constraints, he did not want to select a solution that did not meet his company’s needs.  He says, “We decided to take a step back, take a broad look at everything and find the best solution for us.”

He initially did some evaluations of other enterprise backup products such Symantec NetBackup, Symantec PureDisk and EMC Avamar. However they were not exactly what he needed so he did further research at which point he uncovered CommVault as CommVault kept popping up in many online forums. Then in subsequent conversations that he had with his peers, many had positive things to say about it.
So as he did more research on CommVault and its features, the more he found to like. This eventually led to his decision to deploy CommVault as part of his Windows 2008 rollout during the summer of 2009.

Despite his relatively new exposure to CommVault, his requirements and the short time in which he had to plan for its roll-out and implementation, the deployment of CommVault in all of his company’s stores went off without a hitch. His company deployed CommVault on all of its servers during the summer with interns as it had done in the past and found it worked well right away.

Equally as important, he found that CommVault eliminated some of the other backup headaches he previously had.

  • CommVault provided his company with a single pane of glass so the five administrators at his company’s headquarters could centrally administer backups at any remote site.
  • The need to manual scripting and scheduling was eliminated at the remote sites.
  • DBAs could do their own restores which they previously could not do.

Maybe most important, CommVault provided him with a platform that could grow with his company. CommVault’s ability to add deduplication and server virtualization as plug-ins to the Simpana platform was a major factor in his decision to go with CommVault. While he did not deploy either of these options initially, CommVault enabled him to deploy a backup solution immediately while giving him the flexibility to plug in the deduplication and virtualization pieces when he was ready for them.

CommVault’s West included in his closing remarks that the wholesale rip and replacement of existing data management products is a big job that is not taken lightly by most organizations (and rightly so!) But he stressed that CommVault’s objective is to make that transition as easy as possible through the use of technology and the use of its service and support organizations.
Based upon the testimony of this IT Director and others like him that I have spoken to in the past, it appears that CommVault is succeeding in delivering on these objectives. CommVault is making the “unthinkable” task of rip and replace of data management software a palatable option to more enterprise organizations. Because of this, more organizations are seeing the fiscal, operational and technical benefits that come from using a more modern platform that is designed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s data management requirements.

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