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Commvault buys Hedvig in push for global storage player status

Backup player Commvault aims to bring together datacentre and multi-cloud operations with software-defined storage that can unify access to almost any storage medium, anywhere

Top tier backup software maker Commvault has bought software-defined storage startup Hedvig for $225m.

According to Commvault, the aim is to help better place the company in the multicloud era. Commvault’s assumption is that a software-defined storage approach can bring together shared volumes and backups when data is distributed between numerous on-premise and cloud locations.

“This acquisition shows that Commvault is positioned at the crossroads of storage and data management. We think that to bring together Hedvig’s innovative storage software and Commvault’s data protection capabilities will reduce data fragmentation and give us an advantage in the market,” said Sanjay Mirchandani, CEO of Commvault.

Mirchandani cited a recent Gartner study that predicted software-defined storage would become the dominant technology to build storage infrastructures between now and 2023.

Manage backups in the cloud and the datacentre

From a technical point of view, this fusion between the two technologies will allow organisations that keep their backups in the public cloud for reasons of cost and availability to access their data as if it was in their datacentre.

Currently, Commvault’s Data Platform software can carry out restores on virtual machines (VMs), emails, files and databases directly in the cloud. It can also analyse content stored in the cloud to verify online data holdings are keeping in line with regulations on sensitive information.

But in Commvault management of access rights in the cloud is de-coupled from management of storage internally and each new cloud space has to be managed separately, which can add complexity to IT governance with decisions needed over what data to save or restore and according to which usage profile.

Founded by Avinash Lakshman, the engineer who designed the Dynamo and Cassandra distributed storage platforms at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Hedvig’s software-defined Distributed Storage Platform (DSP) addresses precisely this problem.

Hedvig constructs clusters of distributed storage nodes which can be storage arrays or server storage – even network-attached storage (NAS) boxes in departments or cloud capacity in AWS or Azure – and which can all be presented to hosts as a single storage resource with block, file or object access.

This single pool can be subdivided into tiers, each with its own physical characteristics and set to policies defined by the customer.

Become a global storage player

“Management of data in multiple clouds is a difficult problem to resolve for customers,” said IDC analyst Crawford Del Prete.

“The acquisition of Hedvig is an opportunity for Commvault to differentiate and improve its offer which enlarges its market potential. We think that the move will boost the value that Commvault can bring to these increasingly complex problems,” he added.

He pointed out that in equipping itself with Hedvig’s capabilities, Commvault is responding chiefly to the problems posed by multicloud operations. In doing so, it is becoming a distinctive storage player with a very competitive software-defined offer.

DSP can, for example, make use of NVMe flash and Intel Optane PMEM as high-performance cache to accelerate applications. It can also automatically convert VMware VMs and Red Hat containers to the right format for the cloud, and it has disk-based encryption functionality that is made for acceleration by Intel processors.

“The big advantage of DSP compared to other software-defined storage products is that it isn’t trying to specialise in any infrastructure in particular, contrary to those developed by Nutanix or VMware around their hypervisors,” said system architectures expert Chan Ekanayake in a blog, written just before he rejoined Veeam, a competitor of Commvault.

“That has resulted in some interesting ideas, like the use of a proxy on-site that offloads operations that would potentially be billed at a high price by cloud providers, such as data deduplication,” he added.

“The problem is that organisations, even in the case of multicloud, might prefer to use software-defined storage from their usual infrastructure provider,” he concluded – which is a hypothesis that VMware has taken account of in its hybrid cloud strategy.

The fusion of the two products is likely to bear fruit by the end of the year. That would be realised with the appearance of Commvault Data Platform functionality in the Hedvig console, which provides a single view of all storage resources where these can be defined with global policies or by tier.

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