Analyst Reports Reflect that Backup Software’s Transition to Data Management is Under Way

When DCIG released its first ever Virtual Server Backup Software Buyer’s Guide in December 2010, it created some controversy when it became public that CommVault® Simpana® had achieved the highest score and was ranked #1. But just over a month later when another analyst firm Gartner positioned CommVault in its “Leaders” Quadrant for Enterprise Disk-Based Backup/Recovery, the silence was deafening.

So what changed in the space of 45 days? And what is it about CommVault Simpana that has led it to being positioned so well in the area of backup software by two different analyst firms.

Backup and recovery software has changed a lot in the last decade. As the titles in both DCIG’s Buyer’s Guide and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant suggest, backup of virtual servers and the ability to leverage disk as part of the overall backup and recovery process have become focal points in backup software. This change in backup software’s focus has led to complementary technologies such as archiving, deduplication, snapshots and replication becoming more important to the overall backup software offering.

Bringing these additional functions under backup software’s purview reflects a broader transition that is occurring in enterprise environments in terms of the role that they expect backup software to fulfill. Whereas enterprises may have once been satisfied with how well backup software copied data from their production storage to tape and then managed it once on tape, enterprises are consciously and unconsciously coming to the conclusion that backup software needs to take on an expanded role beyond just backup.

This expanded role that backup software is assuming should lead to it being more appropriately redefined as data management software. However many enterprises may still be reticent to redefine “backup software” as “data management software” for a couple of reasons.

  • First, they have budgets for “backup software” not “data management software.”
  • Second, “data management” implies that the administrator has a proactive role in the management of an enterprise’s data whereas “backup software” implies a more reactive role.

Nonetheless it is this subtle transition in backup software’s role from “doing backup” to “managing data” that offers some insight as to why CommVault Simpana has suddenly started appearing in the #1 position in multiple analyst surveys on backup software.

This is in part attributable to the introduction of disk as a primary backup target. This change from tape to disk has resulted in dramatic increases in the successes of backups and restores, shorter backup windows and less time trouble shooting failed backups. In so doing it has freed individuals once dedicated to just supporting tape-based backups to perform tasks that add more value to the organization.

This is changing the way they need to use backup software which is in turn changing what role that backup software has to fulfill in order to remain relevant in organizations.  However since backup software is already omnipresent in most organizations, by taking on the role of data management administrators can now begin to leverage it to manage and understand their organization’s data.  This gives them the information they need to streamline or consolidate operations, improve storage utilization and identify new ways to reduce costs.

So to thoroughly evaluate how different backup software products compare in this emerging area of data management, analysts have to look at and take into account more than just a few backup software features. In DCIG’s case, it looked at over 130 backup software features and broke those features down into a number of categories including Backup, Management, Restore, Support and Technology. 

Notably among these five (5) categories it was the “Management” category that had the largest number of features to examine and score. It was also the category in which CommVault Simpana achieved the highest score in the 2011 DCIG Virtual Server Backup Software Buyer’s Guide as it had the most comprehensive set of features when compared to all of its competitors. Its score in this category in large part led to CommVault achieving the #1 overall score and ranking in the DCIG Virtual Server Backup Software Buyer’s Guide.

Gartner’s results appeared to support DCIG’s conclusions. In looking at the write-up that Gartner did on CommVault in its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Disk-Based Backup/Recovery, it made some of the same observations.

Gartner commented that CommVault has sustained its growth “with a perceived edge in ease of use and fewer scripting requirements as compared with other enterprise backup solutions.” Gartner also remarked that CommVault “offers snapshot capabilities which integrate with a broad number of storage platform solutions to schedule and manage snapshots.”

Backup and recovery software is not going away anytime soon but the functionality of enterprise backup software is clearly in period of transition as it shifts its focus from “backup and recovery” to “data management.” As this shift occurs, it should come as no surprise that CommVault who architected and developed Simpana to “manage data” as opposed to just “backing it up” is finding new found favor not just with analyst firms and their respective Buyer’s Guides and research reports but with enterprise organizations who need and use software to protect, manage and recover their data on a daily basis.


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