Backup software specialist Commvault debuts its first hardware product

Commvault is following the lead of startups such as Cohesity and Rubrik to market data backup appliances, which are said to be easier to manage for midsize companies.

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Commvault, known for its data management software, entered the hardware business last week by debuting its first backup appliance.

The new product, called HyperScale, is intended for backing up secondary storage. That could include non-transactional data, duplicate copies of files, and any information that isn't vital. It could also mean data from remote offices where system administration needs to be kept as simple.

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Customers can choose to have Tinton Falls, NJ-based Commvault pre-install HyperScale on servers from Cisco Systems, Dell-EMC, Fujitsu, HPE, Huawei, Lenovo, or Super Micro. It's also available in a software-only version for customers to install on their own hardware, yet still operates in an appliance mode compared to traditionally installed backup software, Commvault solutions marketing official Phil Wandrei said.

"We think this will be attractive to more of the mid-teir customers where they have IT generalists," Wandrei noted. The system has 32-80TB of available capacity in a 3-node configuration, he said. It uses traditional hard drives for its storage and solid-state drives for operations and processing. Upgrades cycles will include new levels of speed and space for the whole system, not just for the backup aspects, he added.

Commvault is also pushing the idea of scaling the hardware horizontally instead of vertically. Most storage hardware expands vertically--what's known as "scale-up"--by adding more drives. Wandrei said Commvault believes it's simpler for mid-tier customers to expand their backup systems horizontally ("scale-out") by adding more nodes instead.

Cohesity and Rubrik are increasingly popular startups that already sell the same basic product. Commvault's direct competitors, including Dell-EMC's DataDomain and Veritas, also have appliance versions of their backup products. Wandrei said Commvault is aiming for all of them.

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It can be confusing for customers. "In general, I am a huge fan of data protection appliances for their ease of acquisition and ease of deployment, especially when the appliance is more than simply generic metal where someone else simply ran setup.exe for you," Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jason Buffington said.

"If there is extra integration, additional software components, or perhaps unified manageability of otherwise separately-configurable protection storage and protection software, then data protection appliances are as compelling as hyper-converged or converged infrastructure appliances are, as the building blocks for a modern virtualized production infrastructure," Buffington added.

Commvault will sell HyperScale through distributors and anticipates starting prices under $30,000 for an entry-level system of 32TB including a 1-year software and support subscription.

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