Today IT managers have to think about more than just buying products that only solve their tactical day-to-day problems. Increasingly they have to consider how any new solution that they implement solves their more strategic data center management problems as well. This is why IT managers should be encouraged by the newly announced snapshot integration between CommVault® Simpana® software and Dell EqualLogic midrange arrays. While this integration solves their pressing backup and recovery problems, Simpana gives IT managers a path to better managing their data long term as well.

“Doing more with less” has been a part of the IT lexicon as long as I have been associated with IT. While adherence to this mantra ebbs and flows, it is holding up pretty well this time. As concerns about the strength of the economic recovery linger, maximizing data center efficiency, controlling costs and making employees as effective as possible remain top priorities.

These concerns are forcing data center managers to identify solutions that can both fix their current tactical problems while leaving them better positioned to manage their environment going forward. This is why CommVault’s announcement to add the Simpana SnapProtectTM snapshot technology for Dell EqualLogic midrange arrays is so important as it enables them to accomplish competing objectives.

CommVault’s support of Dell EqualLogic’s snapshot feature in addition to its current support for EMC CLARiiON, EMC Symmetrix and NetApp FAS systems should come as no surprise. Since June 2009 CommVault and Dell have partnered to offer the PowerVault DL2100 that functions as a turnkey backup appliance which uses a version of Simpana that is customized for fast, simple deployments.
 
However in the year since the DL2100′s release, the adoption of server virtualization and storage technologies such as the Dell EqualLogic midrange arrays has accelerated. The need for faster backups and recoveries of virtualized systems has led to IT managers wanting to take advantage of the snapshot feature that comes as a standard software feature on Dell EqualLogic arrays.

The bad news is that this snapshot feature is not necessarily easy to implement. Examples of new tasks that IT managers have to be prepared to do in order to successfully utilize it include:

  • Scripting. To take snapshots using the Dell EqualLogic array, IT managers have to write scripts that instruct the array to take snapshots of specific volumes and the times at which to take them.
  • Snapshot management. Snapshots cannot be taken and then forgotten about it. IT managers must track why snapshots were taken, who is using them and then delete them when no longer needed.
  • Creating application consistent snapshots. Taking snapshots of applications like Microsoft Exchange or Oracle means first acquiescing these applications otherwise the snapshots that are taken are unusable for application recoveries.

It is these tactical issues that the Simpana SnapProtect now addresses. Fully integrated into both the enterprise version of CommVault Simpana software as well as the customized Simpana software version on the PowerVault DL2100, IT managers no longer have to do their own scripting as they can use Simpana software to configure and schedule the occurrence of snapshots on the EqualLogic array.

The Simpana SnapProtect feature can also do snapshot management. It can discover previously created snapshots on the EqualLogic system and manage them as well as the snapshots that it created. IT managers can use the Simpana SnapProtect enabler to schedule the creation, retention and deletion of EqualLogic snapshots by simply setting policies within Simpana software so that they are retained and kept for the appropriate length of time.

Finally, IT managers using CommVault technology do not have to worry about the issue of applications snapshots taken in an inconsistent state. Simpana software integrates with applications like Exchange, Oracle and SQL Server and prior to taking a snapshot, Simpana software issues a command to the server to acquiesce the application so an application consistent snapshot can be taken.

This is all good news for IT managers. They can now better leverage the standard snapshot feature found on EqualLogic arrays and then manage the snapshots using the Simpana SnapProtect software.
 
The better news is that Simpana software can leverage the data in snapshots in ways simply not possible when only scripting is used. Simpana software can index the data in the snapshots so they can be accessed and searched during eDiscoveries or use designated snapshots as the source for backups to disk, tape or even to the cloud as well as a source for faster recoveries of individual files, folders or entire applications.

IT managers responsible for data center operations are still as tactical as ever in that they need products that solve today’s problems. However there is no doubt that a shift in mindset is occurring in that while they want to solve current problems, they also want solutions that prevent these types of problems from recurring again in the future.
 
CommVault’s support of the snapshot feature on Dell EqualLogic arrays typifies the type of solution that IT managers should be selecting. It solves their immediate tactical problem by providing them an easy way to introduce the use and management of snapshots into their backup and recovery scheme. But equally and maybe more importantly, CommVault is continuing down a singular path of meeting tomorrow’s data management requirements without needing to bring in additional point products to do so.

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