The Agent Secret

By Matt Tyrer

Choice! It’s an important part of our everyday lives and a critical element in the digital transformation facing organizations. To that end, there has been an ongoing debate in IT regarding agents vs. agent-less approaches to data protection. This is further blurred by some solutions that temporarily install an agent and then remove it mid-flight (does that constitute agent-less or count as an agent approach?). The folks at Storage Switzerland took, in my view, a more pragmatic approach to things in their latest blog: Choice.

The argument to move away from the agent-in-guest approach was not just a matter of performance and how the agents affected the virtual machine (VM), but it was the issue of scale and complexity. With the proliferation of virtual environments vis-à-vis the ‘Virtual First’ strategies of recent years, environments quickly went from 10s to 100s to 1000s of VMs in a relatively short period of time. This made the agent method unfeasible when confronted with such rapid expansion, thus the agent-less approach. Many vendors saw this as a means to bring simplicity to the data center: One central point of management across the virtual infrastructure. The issue that arose from this ‘paint-with-one-brush’ approach was that not all data was created equal. Managing at the hypervisor layer is not enough when working with applications and other more dynamic data environments. This is where the agent-less approach often fell short as it simply could not provide the granularity and coverage that the agents could. Hence where the split in approach from the vendor community stems – Simplicity vs. Recoverability.

Let’s get back to choice. Coming from Commvault, we certainly can offer that. The central point of Preston’s article was not to keep the debate going but to highlight our ability to make the right choice for the systems under our management.  Being able to choose agent-less AND an agent approach where they are best suited is what will best serve your business. Rather, the agility to pick the right tactic for the right data set rather than shoehorning everything into the same rigid and limited model.

That’s the power of the Commvault Data Platform.