Desktop and laptop protection has been at most a blip on the radar screen of IT priorities. But with these devices increasingly being used to store more critical enterprise data, organizations are putting new emphasis on backing up data stored on these devices for reasons ranging from increasing productivity to corporate compliance and data security all the way to business intelligence. The desire to help customers meet these needs all on one unified platform with their other data management needs explains why CommVault beefed up its support for desktops and laptops in its recent Service Pack 2 (SP2) release for Simpana® 9.
CommVault Simpana 9 SP2 contains a number of other enhancements that Simpana users will find useful in their environments, especially those that are deploying VMware and expanding their virtualization initiatives with it. For example, SP2 accelerates:
- Restores of virtual machines (VMs). No matter where you go or who talk to, all size organizations are moving down or are already well down the path of virtualizing their business-critical and mission critical applications. This is creating new challenges to do more than quickly back them up but also restore them more quickly. CommVault’s SP2 release helps address these challenges by giving users new options to restore multiple versions of VMs at the same time so they have more flexibility in selecting which restore point they want to use for a particular application.
- Application consistent restores for Microsoft Exchange. In Simpana 9 CommVault had already expanded its SnapProtect capabilities to support the broadest range of midrange array snapshot features in the industry. In SP2, CommVault builds upon that to ensure 100% application consistency of Exchange instances that extends to Exchange log truncation. This extends all of the benefits of snapshot based off-host protection to Exchange mailboxes hosted on VMs to include recovering individual messages or mailboxes residing on VMware VMs.
But in talking with CommVault’s Senior VP of Marketing and Business Development, David West, it was evident that CommVault put a great deal of emphasis on enhanced laptop and desktop support in SP2. According to West, the impetus for this came from current and prospective customers who, as part of the RFPs that they are sending out, are requesting that their enterprise backup solution take on more responsibility for the backup and restore of these devices.
It was this increase in customer inquiries that prompted CommVault to develop many of the new features for desktop and laptop protection that SP2 includes. For example, one of the biggest issues surrounding desktop and laptop protection that users complain about is the overhead (CPU and network) associated with running the backup. Who has not run some backup product (online or other) and had to nearly stop everything they were doing as the performance on their desktop and/or laptop significantly degraded until the backup completed?
To help mitigate this performance overhead, CommVault has taken the deduplication technology it has previously developed for the enterprise space and ported it to its desktop and laptop agents. Now as data is being backed up, it first deduplicates the data so only blocks of data that are net new to the environment are sent over the wire and backed up.
Then to further reduce the impact that that backup has on the desktop or laptop, CommVault included a new end-user GUI for desktop and laptops users. This has a couple of new features that users can leverage to help mitigate the impact of backups as well as improve their ability to do recoveries.
To help improve backup performance, end-users can now tweak when they want their data backed up instead of using the corporate default. They can then also tweak what data they want to be backed up (such as only protecting company-related information) and ignore other data that they do not need backed up (such as personal data.)
Second, CommVault also made it possible in SP2 for end-users to do self-service recoveries. Now rather than having to call someone IT to recover a file, they can now pull up a search screen, type in the keywords of files that they are looking for and be presented with a list of options from which they can choose and do a restore on their own. This restore can be done through a browser interface so they can access and restore their files while on the road or even do a restore from a different desktop or laptop.
Using these new throttling and restore features in conjunction with CommVault’s deduplication technology should contribute to significantly lessening the impact that backup jobs have on individual desktops and laptops as well as make it easier and faster for them to do restores.
But having these two throttling options available may conceivably raise a few red flags in the eyes of some corporate IT administrators. To effectively do their jobs, they may need to control both when the data is moved and what data on these devices is backed up. So it is important to note that administrators can set policies within CommVault Simpana that grants desktop and laptop users the appropriate level of control over how and when their backups are performed.
As more corporate data has moved closer to the edge the need for enterprise backup software to also move closer to the edge in order to protect it has grown substantially. CommVault Simpana SP2 accomplishes that objective. By giving users new options to backup and restore their data as well as providing IT administrators more options for protecting data and implementing policies, CommVault Simpana gives enterprises the new flexibility they need to effectively protect data at the edge.