The Hidden Cost of Point Tools

Posted 10/14/2014 by Commvault

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The fall event season in our industry is an extremely busy, but also fun time. It allows me the opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues. We get to check out a ton of awesome new technology. And we get to spend a few days chilling in some interesting locations – like San Francisco and Barcelona.

The last couple of years, though, we were able to re-engage in the ongoing debate over 'single platform versus point solutions.' Over the last 18 to 24 months, we would estimate this topic has been most hotly debated in the VM Backup and Recovery space.

Our industry is seeing a lot of excitement around point solutions for 'VM Backup and Recovery.' And the comments we hear from potential customers follow consistently along a few lines like, “It just works.” “It’s inexpensive.” “It has some cool features.” “It’s easy to use.”

Easy to use. Inexpensive. That’s all good, right? In the words of a famous ESPN college football analyst, “Not so fast my friend!” It turns out there are some hidden costs you need to be aware of for sure.

The Hidden Costs of Point VM Backup and Recovery Tools

It turns out there a number of hidden costs that pop up with many of these point tools that were billed as 'Built for Virtualization.' And we’ve heard from customers that it pays to ask some additional questions before making a decision. Here are a few of the top ones:

1) Do you have to deploy or add-on target-based dedupe appliances? If so, have you looked into the implications of doing this?

At a cost of anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per TB for target-based dedupe, you could be faced with adding a secondary storage tier the cost of which is equal to or even greater than the original cost of the VM backup software you already bought!

In addition, if you are relying on some of the more advanced restore options that many of the point VM Backup and Recovery vendors provide – like CBT-enabled restores or 'Instant VM Recovery,'these may be off the table the second you send backup data to a third-party dedupe appliance.

2) Do you have to purchase licenses for third-party SW like MS Enterprise SQL Server?

Several of the 'Standard' packages from the VM Backup and Recovery point players include only the free version of MS SQL to driver their backup catalog – which will severely limit the scalability of the solution. So you may be faced with a bill for about $5,000 for MS SQL-Server Enterprise, too.

3) Do you have to activate additional modules for off-site copies (like WAN Acceleration)?

Offsite copy is now a fundamental requirement – mostly for DR. And WAN optimization, or WAN acceleration, is a key part of making that work. But several VM Backup and Recovery vendors ask you to deploy a separate (potentially third party) appliance-based solution for that, potentially adding another $10,000 appliance to the total solution cost.

4) Do you have to install multiple instances? And if so, what is the management of that look like?

Between deduplication, catalog and search, we’ve seen that several of the VM Backup and Recovery vendors have some limits in terms of scale. One way around this is to deploy multiple instances for different pieces of your environment, which could potentially mean a big management headache. It’s no big deal if we’re talking 2 or 3 instances, but for larger enterprises where you may have to deploy 10 or more instances, suddenly daily administration is a huge task. Of course to mitigate this situation, many vendors are now deploying an 'Enterprise Manager' of some sort to unify management of the instances, but that could mean additional SW licenses for that functionality (potentially in the area of $1,000 to $1,500 per socket).

So suddenly, that point VM Backup and Recovery solution that sounded very affordable and easy to deploy may become significantly more complex when customers try to meet enterprise requirements like scale, recoverability, offsite functionality and unified management – and we are still only talking about meeting the requirements for the VM platform. Of course, mileage may vary on this depending on exactly which vendor you engage and what your specific requirements are. As with all things, we would simply encourage individuals evaluating different solutions to do a little extra due diligence and ask some pertinent questions before you make a decision.

Breaking down the Hidden Cost of Point VM Backup and Recovery Solutions


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For some organizations, deploying a point tool for VM Backup and Recovery makes lots of sense. They can be fast and easy to deploy. And they are highly targeted at solving a specific problem well. In fact, this is exactly why the Commvault team just delivered the new Simpana Solution Set for VM Backup and Recovery. With this offering, customers who simply want to deploy an awesome solution for VM backup and Recovery on its own have the option to do so and still leverage the enterprise-class feature sets built into Commvault Simpana®software. Unlike a stand-alone point backup and recovery tool, the Commvault VM solution set can be combined with others into a holistic platform that can be managed through a single console.