The Commvault Experience – It Does Exactly What It Is Supposed To Do

Posted 05/21/2018 by Scott Elliott

At Christie, we know a little bit about creating experiences. As a global leader in digital cinema, video walls and other digital and audio technologies, we have helped our customers create and deliver some of the world’s most amazing experiences – including Guinness world record-setting visual and audio experiences at the 2015 Sea Games in Singapore and Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary.

These and similar experiences stun onlookers with immersive visual and audio effects that delight the eyes and ears. Yet, in its own way, Commvault delivers an amazing experience as well. In this case, however, the impact is less sensory and more intellectual, as you realize that Commvault “does exactly what it is supposed to do.”

It may not seem that stunning, but as Senior Manager of Infrastructure at Christie, it has been extremely rare for me to have that experience. My team and I work to manage a host of applications on a variety of different infrastructures around the world. The usual experience is more likely to involve some frustration, as well as a few choice words that should not be spoken in polite company.

Situations where Commvault has done exactly what it is supposed to do: delivering us the powerful simplicity we need to easily, and comprehensively, manage and protect all our data - abound. For example, like many companies, we have had ransomware attacks that, after successfully infecting one of our user’s endpoints, they reached out through the network to infect one of our servers. In each case, we were able to shut down the infected server, use Commvault to find a recent backup of the server and then restore the server. The result? We had the infected servers up and running again in less than an hour. Of course, we continue to constantly review and upgrade our perimeter defenses to protect against such cyberattacks. Yet in today’s world you need to have a plan to get back up and running after a successful attack.

Commvault allows us to implement this plan, quickly and efficiently.

There are a host of other instances I could point to where Commvault’s powerful simplicity enabled my team and I to resolve a data management and protection challenge - and then get back to focusing on other IT priorities. In one case, an entire file directory containing past audit data was accidently deleted. When the finance team learned it was gone, they panicked. Commvault made it easy for us to find the six-month-old directory and then restore it from an old tape backup, for which our financial team was extremely grateful.

Or when we were moving our Memphis office and decided that we would no longer maintain an on-premises server there, Commvault made the data migration to our data center in Kitchener, Canada a breeze. Now we don’t have to worry about managing server infrastructure in this remote office, where in the past if there was a power outage or other issue it might take us significant time (and help, with a bill, from a third party) to restore server access to users. With the Memphis server now located in our Kitchener data center, server availability is up and administrative costs are down.

However, our recent adoption of new storage infrastructure provides perhaps the most powerful example of Commvault’s “powerful simplicity” at work. While Commvault was doing its job (and more) when it came to backing up our data, our old infrastructure was showing its age. The disks were coming to the end of their useful life and we were running out of room for backup data. The hardware was slow, extending our backup windows to an extent that shortly after one backup ended, another would have to start. On top of everything else, the hardware did not provide us with the performance we needed to take advantage of many of the new capabilities in Commvault Version 11. It was time for a software and storage upgrade.

Working with our partner, Compugen, we thoroughly investigated new secondary storage options. In the end, we decided to move to INFINIDAT, which offered us the performance and scalability we needed to address not just our current secondary storage needs, but our expected future needs as well.

Having secured the new INFINIDAT storage, we now had to start backing up all of our servers (with the exception of one proprietary legacy system) to this new infrastructure. At first, our plan was to upgrade to Commvault 11, then use Commvault to move our applications, servers, web services and other data from our old backup infrastructure to the new infrastructure. However, we soon realized that - given the number of read errors that were occurring with the old infrastructure - it would make more sense to just have Commvault begin backing up our primary storage directly to the new secondary storage. We would have two backup repositories for a little while – one on the old infrastructure, one on the new. But once the process was finished, we could take the old infrastructure offline and have our new system take over completely.

By using Commvault to orchestrate the transition we were able to complete it on time, without practically any hiccups. In fact, our users did not even know it was happening. Now that we have Commvault Version 11 and the blazing fast INFINIDAT infrastructure in place, the issues we experienced with our old infrastructure have disappeared. Backup windows have shrunk dramatically. Restore times are faster. We are even seeing benefits we did not expect. For example, data deduplication is much more effective, allowing us to get more “bang for our buck” from our storage hardware. Overall, the improved performance and capacity have made our backup activities very, very boring – just how I like it.

Over the years, I have seen many Christie audio and visual experiences that transport people to another world, to the point where they go “Wow.” The Commvault experience takes my team and I another world a new reality as well – one where your technology can be trusted to quickly and easily do what you expect it to, and more. In the world of IT, if that is not worth a “Wow”, I don’t know what is.

Find out more about Christie’s Data Protection Journey by watching the on-demand webinar.

Scott Elliott is a Senior Manager of Global Infrastructure at Christie.