CommVault highlights application snapshots with standalone IntelliSnap software

IntelliSnap Recovery Manager can manage snapshots across multiple vendors' storage arrays

In a bid to help large businesses create and manage snapshots of application data across sprawling enterprise environments, CommVault is releasing the snapshot component of its Simpana suite as a standalone product.

The software, called Simpana IntelliSnap Recovery Manager, manages periodic snapshots of data that are kept on primary storage, an alternative to sending the data to separate backup systems. It can work with arrays from most of the major storage vendors and provides a single interface for managing all snapshots, according to CommVault.

Virtualization and the growth of data volumes in some cases have overcome the ability to carry out regular backups, according to IDC analyst Robert Amatruda. For example, in some enterprises, daily backups now take more than 24 hours and are never finished.

"They've outstripped their backup windows," Amatruda said. The sheer amount of data that has to be backed up, plus the need to traverse a network all across a virtualized data center, create the delays, he said. That can degrade a company's ability to recover applications after a failure.

"Snapshots have not replaced backup in terms of, operationally, how customers safeguard their data," Amatruda said. But they are being used more frequently alongside true backups, he said.

Snapshots are designed to more quickly save the data that would be needed to restore an application in case of a failure. But even VADP, the software-based snapshot mechanism built into VMware, isn't fast enough to create snapshots needed in larger organizations, Amatruda said. Snapshots that put the data in primary storage are a fast and intelligent mechanism, he said.

CommVault, a longtime backup, archive and recovery software vendor, designed its snapshot software to span the many different storage platforms offered by various vendors. With support for systems from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, IBM and others, IntelliSnap works with 17 of the top 20 storage array vendors, according to Jeff Echols, senior director of product and solutions marketing. It can collect and recover snapshot data across multiple virtual machines and storage platforms, controlled by policies set through a single user interface, he said.

CommVault has had the snapshot management component for about four years in its Simpana suite of backup, archiving and replication software, Echols said. IntelliSnap Recovery Manager is a lightweight product designed to handle the most common applications that need snapshots, such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, he said. Other software, such as Oracle databases and Unix-based applications, are included in the full Simpana but not IntelliSnap.

CommVault may offer a better option for users than the distinct snapshot tools offered with storage arrays, Amatruda said. Breaking out IntelliSnap as a product on its own should help CommVault to eventually sell customers on Simpana as a whole, he said.

CommVault acknowledged that it sees that potential and also said having the standalone product will help its channel partners. But IntelliSnap may give some IT shops the flexibility they need, Amatruda said. It's common for companies to get tied into a certain vendor's backup and recovery software for a long time, and CommVault's application may slide in as an add-on there, he said.

"Clearly, there will be some customers who won't necessarily full-scale rip and replace their software," Amatruda said. Some bring in another product or vendor for use with a defined set of applications, he said.

Simpana IntelliSnap Recovery Manager, set to be announced Monday, is available immediately. List prices start at US$10,000 for a license covering 25 physical servers, with no capacity limitations.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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