Commvault Software and Cloud-First Strategies

Posted 06/15/2016 by Don Foster

In my recent travels around the globe, I have had the pleasure to talk with a number of partners, customers and industry pundits about real cloud strategy and what it means for IT and business. As many would expect, these conversations often focus on being able to drive a tangible strategy for moving workloads to cloud-based environments, executing disaster recovery (DR) tests for the Cloud in the Cloud and even driving disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) for many typical on-premises applications and workloads in the cloud. Many customers don’t know where to start, as it seems very daunting and somewhat concerning to actually allow your workloads and services to be run somewhere else. Not to mention what it takes to actually operationalize such a strategy.

Storage Switzerland’s Curtis Preston recently blogged that for a company with roots in the on-premises data center to suddenly claim to be a 'Cloud First' company, the proof should be fairly obvious in the product offerings. I couldn’t agree more. So is Commvault one of those vendors helping customers deliver a 'Cloud First' strategy? You be the judge.

Native REST Integration into the Cloud

In order to deliver on any workload migration and disaster recovery operations in the cloud, you first need to get data to the cloud. It’s a given that bandwidth is not endless and storage, even in the cloud, can be expensive if not leveraged appropriately. Many cloud providers, like Azure and AWS, provide many tiers of storage for this exact purpose (much like storage options many of you have on-premises) to match performance to price and capacity. Block, object and even cold storage are all pieces of the puzzle, even in the cloud.

As a part of our data strategy, Commvault offers integration for all of these storage services together by providing native REST integration into the cloud. Our ability to tier data based upon policies that we execute on in the data center is also applied to our cloud partners’ storage offerings, making it easy for you as a customer to ask: 'Can this be placed or moved to the cloud?' before provisioning the infrastructure for that service on-premises. By providing this integration natively, all of our indexing intelligence and storage capabilities that have provided value to on-premises environments extend to these cloud providers. This means you have the ability to send data to the cloud in a secure, encrypted format that is also compressed and deduplicated directly to the appropriate block or blob storage location, and follow customer-defined retention and tiering policies within the cloud.

The native integration and indexed view of your data in the cloud is a major point in allowing a Cloud First strategy. Many vendors take the approach that cloud blob storage is nothing more than a bottomless pit extension of the on-premises device or gateway that sent the data to the cloud. It usually means that the gateway MUST reconstruct the data back from the object storage before it can be used for any other purpose.

While doing this allows a vendor to check a box and say they are cloud ready, it really means that you, as a customer, will have a hard time moving beyond just eliminating on-premises tape as no control and the need to reconstruct information eliminates any cloud agility. Here is an analogy to these check box solutions: think of it much like the Virtual Tape Library (VTL) days when data was written to tape blind of the software that sent it. In many cases the entire tape had to be transferred back to disk cache before a data restore (even for one file) could complete. That certainly limits the value of these types of solutions.

Adopting a "Cloud First" Strategy

Luckily Commvault has taken a Cloud First approach, which is clearly reflected in our products. Our indexing that allows for the same level of policy management for cloud storage infrastructures as on-premises storage infrastructures also allows for explicit and accurate data retrieval from the object or blob storage directly to a compute instance in the cloud. No costs for bringing data back on-site. And now you can define a compute environment to run whatever operation is necessary, securely in the cloud.

It is not just files or a database that a Cloud First strategy would require. Entire workloads and VMs would need to be easily recovered to save much of the linkages that are defined in distributed applications. Commvault understands this, and we can transform VMs from VMware to Hyper-V and vice versa; we have enabled customers' ability to take those VM images that have now been protected to the cloud in a secure and efficient manner, and migrate them directly to an AWS virtual machine image or to a Microsoft Azure image. Just like that, complete workloads can be spun up inside a cloud and made available. The best part is that as a customer, you are only using compute services from Commvault in the cloud when you choose to drive this migration or execute on a DR test operation. That leaves you agile and extremely cost effective for cloud consumption. Again, this is all enabled because of the way we keep native access to all tiers of a cloud storage model.

Finally, all of the recovery orchestration Commvault has delivered in the last decade to improve on-premises recovery - both in the data center and in a co-location center - provides the perfect foundation for extending similar capabilities into cloud technologies and platforms. Automated VM migration, the portability to recover entire workloads spanning VMs and physical machines into cloud compute and storage environments, and the ability to drive the execution to multiple cloud providers properly maximizes their potential.

Bringing it All Together with Cloud Ready Innovations

To mirror Curtis’ SpaceX analogy, we are not just continuing innovation for on-premises technologies to help our customers better use their data and improve operational processes; we are doing so with the understanding that all of these innovations must be cloud ready and help our customers speed the execution of making their current cloud strategy a reality. So would you like to join Commvault and our customers who have already made this journey during your transition to an obvious Cloud First reality?

Don Foster leads Commvault’s worldwide solutions marketing team and is a total technology enthusiast. He can often be seen speaking at industry events with customers and the analyst/press community.