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Accelerating IT Modernization To Support Digital Transformation

The drive to modernize IT is in full swing – manifesting itself as both quite possibly the greatest number of large scale tech refreshes in IT history, a sea-change in the vendor landscape and widespread IT reorganization. This profound change is chiefly a response to the need to compete in the new digital economy. The main requirement in this shift is to gain agility whilst simultaneously reducing traditional infrastructure scaling costs, so that vital innovation can be funded.

Accelerating IT Modernization

IT itself is changing to meet the new challenges of the digital era. IT organizations are being asked to support fast paced innovation and business growth, as well as supporting traditional applications and apply effective governance. As a result, budget allocations are fragmenting, and what was once provided as an ‘IT budget’ is often now handed to multiple lines of business, with IT having to compete for funding with external entities in the form of SaaS and other 3rd party services. To combat this, IT is reorganizing to support the innovation and growth required, often by splitting into different front-end/back-end groups, including the formation of dedicated Innovation and DevOps groups. Public cloud is also playing its part, with IT teams running ‘Cloud First’ programs themselves in order to compete rather than being told to by the business. In some cases, these approaches are also being used to underpin a shift to a services context, where IT no longer builds and delivers upon request, but rather enables, with self service and on-demand systems.

Historically, IT has experienced change as a series of incremental shifts, but recent technology advances that offer significant benefits in scale, agility and cost are resulting in faster and more widespread change and technology refreshes. The most visible and disruptive is cloud, but converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, non-relational/distributed databases, big data, scale out hardware and software defined are also significant forces driving change.

One barrier many organizations face in implementing these changes is Data Management, which can present a stubborn obstacle. Take just one subset, data protection. Complexity derived from tied-to-infrastructure protection and multiple backup and recovery products installed across the enterprise.

Key Areas of Technology Refresh

  • Cloud Adoption
  • Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
  • New Databases and Big Data
  • Scale-out Hardware
  • Software Defined

Discreet backup and recovery related management and reporting tools

Figure 1: The traditional approach – complex with duplicated processes & effort

These have typically been deployed to meet different needs, each bringing its own point of management, catalogue and discreet infrastructure. M&A activity is also a major cause of this product proliferation, as are tactical product selections, distributed purchasing, a lack of standards and short term CxO appointments.

The potential outcomes of these fragmented deployments are wasted resources, poor visibility and reporting, and worse, poor recoverability or limited recovery options. Contributing to the pain, these products rapidly become legacy systems themselves. This can slow the adoption of new technologies needed for vital business initiatives, leaving IT organizations with a difficult choice: more ‘band aid’ fixes or slower progress on modernization.

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A Platform Approach to Modern Backup Drives Agile IT

The modern enterprise has to be available because more than ever, competitors really are just a click away. Lost customers can be hard to regain and with the advent of social media, the damage to reputation may also hinder the acquisition of new customers. Having over-arching management of array replication and snapshots, backup and recovery, disaster recovery and many other tasks, a platform approach can reduce unplanned downtime. An IDC worldwide survey of Commvault customers found this benefit to be significant, with up to 55% less downtime than a multi-product/vendor strategy.1

A modern approach transforms backup and recovery operations significantly.

Setting policies and reporting become truly centralized, as do roles and security management. Snapshot, replication and backup become unified across VMs, applications, remote and legacy systems, all largely regardless of the disk vendors, hypervisors, applications or OS.2

Data visibility becomes a reality, with end to end reporting and analytics providing valuable insights that boost efficiency, reducing costs and unplanned downtime.

Cloud becomes a manageable extension of your own infrastructure, delivering on the promise of a hybrid model. This drives down the cost of DR and Dev and Test, with suitable workloads easily migrated as required.

Figure 2: Modern – a single point of management with optimized processes

While availability plays its part keeping a business competitive, staying ahead requires an increase in agility. This is where traditional approaches to backup have an impact that often remains hidden.

So how exactly does a traditional multi-product/vendor approach to backup and recovery put the brakes on agility? The following table looks at some important areas related to agility and compares traditional methods against the platform approach taken by Commvault.

Agility Inhibitor Traditional Approach The Commvault Difference
Cloud Migration

Migrating workloads to the cloud isn’t a trivial task, and can involve six to eight different manual processes or steps, which can hinder or even delay migration indefinitely. Some workloads that you’d like to move could also be unsuitable due incompatibilities e.g. move a UNIX database to a Linux VM in the cloud. Even if you design new cloud friendly apps and turn off on-premises systems, data protection in the cloud may not meet required standards (see 'compliance' below).

Application and VM awareness plus secure and efficient transport, combined with the ability to automate VM provisioning and conversion at the point of restore, all make collection, migration and commissioning of the migrated VM simple and risk free.

This means you can speed up your cloud migration to Azure, AWS and Oracle Clouds, and even shift legacy UNIX databases to the cloud. Commvault can perform format transformations so that, for example, a legacy on-premises UNIX database can run on a Linux VM in the cloud in just a few clicks.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery can be difficult to perform and complexity increases when multiple products are used for recovery, after a widespread system failure or disaster. Dependencies are tricky to map, and testing can be time consuming and laborious. Multiple systems and products also impact on staff training and their availability may be a factor that can cause the process to fail. In addition to core systems and applications, many systems once considered to be tier two or lower are now required to be part of the DR process, adding to the overall expense of redundant systems.

Having a single console for recovery with plans managed by predefined workflows, complete with the ability to schedule testing and associated reports, increases the confidence in DR. Orchestration streamlines the recovery process for complex applications from SAP, Oracle and others without the need for specialists to be present, and better management often means more recovery points and faster recovery times (from less infrastructure). The cost of disaster recovery can also be mitigated by using the cloud as target for lower tier workloads – with the same tools used as for cloud migration and that underpin cloud Dev and Test. In a DR use case, policies can be set to balance the number of recovery points and the frequency at which they are updated to meet business driven SLAs.

Dev and Test

RDev and Test processes that are performed manually are time consuming and are often labor and resource intensive, even where applications have built-in tools to assist with this (which may compound any resource or infrastructure issues).

Commvault has the ability to orchestrate and control application clones, while rapidly and efficiently serving them to any location, including the cloud, generating less waste while improving development productivity. Role based management leverages application views and makes use of advanced copy management, which keeps resource requirements to a minimum. Deep application integration also means data is always ready to use without lengthy integrity checks.

Change Control

Change control is much harder and slower in an environment with a high degree of customization and scripting, which is common with legacy backup or application vendor’s tools. It is also complicated by multiple systems effectively doing the same job i.e. backup and recovery. All these factors can make application rollout and updates slower; infrastructure refreshes too.

In context integration with ServiceNow, Jira and Remedy ITSM systems help to streamline change processes and provide the ability to audit them from end-to-end. In addition to this, the workflow and audit system built into Commvault software helps to reduce unplanned downtime often associated with change. Array management is also script-free, so migrating VMs and applications is simpler, as policies can be set and maintained almost regardless of the underlying infrastructure (or cloud).

New Technology Adoption

Limited support for ‘modernizing technologies’ is a very common agility inhibitor, which can mean you either don’t get the exact system you want, or you have to get another backup system with support for the technology that you do want. In either case, it’s likely that the procurement time will be extended, and if it’s the latter it’s likely that you will require more infrastructure and the on-going management costs will also be higher.

Commvault is committed to choice and open standards, and our software supports more than a dozen virtualization systems and containers, over fifty cloud storage platforms, more than a hundred array models (including a big selection of the latest flash arrays). This means with Commvault you can choose to implement Containers, hyper-converged systems, OpenStack, Hadoop and many other transformative technologies and know that you’re able to do so, yet still leverage the same data services that underpins your legacy systems, VM estate, public cloud and SaaS applications.

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Fitting a Turbo to the No. 1 Modernizer: Cloud

Cloud remains the biggest game-changer in the modernization game, with Public Cloud seeing the significant growth. Many companies have famously built new businesses entirely in the public cloud, but many more still have limited programs (or none at all) due to fears around security, complexity and the risk of high utility-style bills.

Commvault’s cloud technology simplifies and accelerates cloud adoption, and though you may not initially consider a vendor associated with backup, recovery and wider data management as the key to a modern elastic cloud, but if you unpack what Commvault software does, it makes a lot of sense:

  • Provides rich data services on just about any infrastructure
  • Integrates with hardware to collect VMs, applications and data with little or no impact, and in a consistent state
  • Moves data in an efficient deduplicated format that is secured with encryption (at rest and in transit)
  • Delivers sophisticated auto-discovery, automation and workflow tools, with comprehensive reporting
  • Provides a recovery capability that can convert between public and private cloud hypervisors
  • Eliminates the sending of redundant data via efficient policy based data transfer, that preserves application-aware recovery points

From this point, it really is down to your needs as to how you run it; whether for DR, Dev and Test, migration in either direction, or just shipping that last, legacy Oracle server to the Oracle Cloud so you can decommission your last physical server.

Want to know more about accelerating your Cloud adoption?

Watch this video about how Dow Jones was able to speed up its use of Cloud with Commvault software.

In addition to the data services above, Commvault software also has cloud provisioning and orchestration tools to simplify hybrid cloud management and control costs. These tools use automated policies to help deal with existing VM sprawl issues and mitigate the problem of future sprawl on-premises and in the cloud.

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Consolidation: The Benefits Beyond Faster IT

Moving to a single data management platform will simplify the backup and recovery landscape considerably, but it also has many benefits desirable to modern IT, beyond agility alone.

Firstly, operations become simpler and more scalable with role-based access to a single console, which provides a streamlined working environment that delivers the controls and reports required by function, allowing staff to put more focus on business goals rather than just ‘keeping the lights on’. Policies can be set regardless of the underlying infrastructure; for on-premises, endpoints, the cloud and even SaaS applications. This isn’t only for backup and recovery either, but with consideration given to data retention, data and application lifecycles and copy management, ultimately delivering many other use cases demanded by the business.

This goes back to the notion of a services context which was raised at the beginning of document; consolidated Data Management with a strong self-service ability allows the business to leverage data on-demand, with IT becoming more of a ‘data director’ function.

Secondly, having a single platform approach makes the governance of data much easier to manage, compared to a long chain of separate products. Policies, access, encryption, etc. are fully audited and can be managed and reported on for the entire lifecycle of data, whether unstructured or related to applications and databases. These controls play a big part in managing GRC challenges in the US, and assist with compliance to the EU’s GDPR regulations, and PoPI in South Africa; all of these have a global impact beyond the domestic implications for international businesses.

The third significant difference is the impact on infrastructure. Individual products create dedicated stacks of compute and storage, creating many isolated pools of data. Even if deduplication is applied inside each stack, there is still the potential for a lot of wasted infrastructure. Commvault’s approach is to take this compute and storage and leverage it for multiple uses; instead of creating many disparate silos, it simply combines them into a single, globally deduplicated, virtual storage pool that can be spread across many locations and the cloud. This significantly reduces the total amount of data stored, and makes more efficient use of compute resources, so is ideal for deploying in hybrid clouds.

These three benefits when brought together provide for a fourth, which is about boosting productivity and business opportunity beyond the IT department itself. When you can manage and track data lifecycles end-to-end and potentially see all of the data in the business, indexing all of this content makes sense, particularly if you can apply a robust security model to access it. Commvault software is able to do exactly this; it can create a single, content index of the data it manages and can see (including datacenter, endpoints, cloud and selected SaaS applications), which extends the value of beyond recovery and into ‘above the line’ business value.

This means every member of staff can benefit from a productivity boost, faster decisions can be made by management with access to data previously hidden in silos, and governance specific tools able to leverage this system reduce the risk of legal or regulatory challenges.

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Commvault’s platform approach to cloud data management has many desirable attributes that modern IT teams are looking for. It supports agility and choice, and is flexible enough to meet the demands of a business looking to exploit the Digital Economy.

In addition to making IT faster, a data services platform that can reduce costs and other overheads while also helping to meets changing and ever more stringent governance regimes is almost a necessity for a modern business.

The business case for consolidation to a single platform is straightforward and is built upon the savings that accrue from central control, comprehensive end-to-end reporting and visibility, simplified license management, a single maintenance renewal, centralized upgrades and a reduced training burden. According to IDC, simplification conducted using Commvault software can result in significant savings, with software spending reduced by up to 52% and hardware spending reduced by up to 42%.3

The final thing to consider is the process of change. Even if the benefits are clear to your organization, the decision to change may seem daunting. For those that see an immediate benefit in backup and recovery consolidation, and want to deploy Commvault software enterprise-wide for value in the shortest time, there is a full suite of services, as well as software designed to simplify migration from many popular backup products. From assessments and design, through to end-to-end deployment, dedicated support and multiple options for education and certification, you can be sure our highly-rated services and support3 team will ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

Alternatively, you can just acquire the pieces you need for your modernization or scale-out plans, and the platform will grow seamlessly as you do. This is because Commvault software is designed to meet your needs immediately, without having to build the platform up-front. So even if you only choose Commvault software for new, modernizing projects, you will soon move into a situation where the final pieces of your traditional/legacy data protection systems will seem trivial to replace.

  1. Quantifying the Business Value of Commvault Software: Worldwide Customer Survey Analysis, IDC 2016. Download the full report
  2. A full list of supported technologies is available on the Commvault manual pages
  3. Commvault Delivers Industry Leading Customer Support for Six Consecutive Years, See the full press release.
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Commvault software’s integrated, automated data protection approach gives you a single, complete view of all your stored data no matter where it is — on-premises or in the cloud.