Commvault Review

Provides a single console, internal workflow automation, and fully automated deployment; no need to access an OS or app platform


What is our primary use case?

We're using it mainly to back up operating systems like Windows, Linux, and databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL.

How has it helped my organization?

It has simplified disaster recovery and we have used it for migration as well. For migrating from old FX servers to new FX servers, it was not possible to use any new feature from VMware. There was just vMotion and the success rate of migration of the whole disk was less than 50 percent. It was not possible to manage it that way. We used Live Sync and it was able to migrate 150 machines every day during the weekend, without major problems. That saved us a couple of weeks of time, probably 50 percent of the time it would have taken us. Without Live Sync it wouldn't have been possible to manage it.

The fact that the solution is a single platform has definitely enabled our company to accelerate growth because you don't need to leave the Commvault console. With NetBackup or TSM (IBM Tivoli Storage Manager) when it comes to customization of scripts for databases, you have to go into the client at the operating system level and modify the scripts. With Commvault you don't have to do that. You don't need to access the operating system, which simplifies the work.

Commvault helps minimize the time spent on backup tasks, creating time for other projects. I'm able to write a workflow in Commvault's internal environment and I can automate any action I did manually before. For example, deployment of remote offices can be fully automated.

It also saves us money on infrastructure because the configuration which will be used for IntelliSnapshotting is very simplified.

Another company I worked for previously was being attacked by a ransomware virus. The company lost its whole Windows infrastructure, so it didn't have Active Directory. Commvault was on Windows as well and the Knowledge Base which ran on Linux was authenticated with AD. Everyone lost their workstations.

The recovery process was that we got the database from Commvault, because part of raising cases includes the ability to upload databases to Commvault. The Windows team found a backup of the main controller and the most important thing was to start communications and for every one to have Active Directory. With Commvault's support, we were also able to develop a process which recovered Volume C, and that was sufficient to fix the images. Within two months they were able to recover the whole infrastructure from scratch. Without Commvault, or with another solution based on Windows, I don't think the recovery would have been possible. 

I had never seen this kind of disaster. Nobody expects to lose everything. You think about losing the primary location or a remote office location, but no one thinks about losing the whole platform.

What is most valuable?

Among the best features are the BMR (Bare Metal Recovery), Live Sync, and IntelliSnap, which is used for snapshots of hypervisor storage. It's predefined so you only need to enable it and it works. I haven't seen anything like this in other backup tools like Veritas NetBackup or Dell EMC or TSM. We will use snapshotting for all our machines.

Live Sync replicates incremental data to remote locations. If you lose your primary data center, you just enable the replicated machines in your DR location so you don't need to restore data.

It's great as a DR solution because it has a lot of capabilities for syncing with a cloud provider. But if you want to keep every in-house, it's great that way as well because the replication is done by incrementals.

When it comes to the user interface for managing on-prem, cloud, or multi-cloud environments in one place, it's always better to have everything in one. I myself like multiple consoles, a Java console and an admin console. I only work with the Java console. It's great because it's possible to configure everything from there. But operations has that nice console, and having that one console is better than having multiple consoles.

What needs improvement?

They should move the CommServe outside of Windows machines and the database should be distributed among servers. It's still a single point of failure.

Also, I work a lot with workflows, which means a combination of XML files and commands. It would be helpful if they unified the use of workflows.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Commvault at my current company for almost two years but I have a total of five years of experience with it. I'm a Commvault engineer. I have built Commvault from scratch using the approach that is best for the client, and then prepared the documentation.

We are using service pack 16 because it is a new deployment so we have to deploy that before we push updates.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I haven't seen a crash of the database. The stability is great.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When I started with Commvault and compared it with NetBackup, I found that Commvault had features that NetBackup didn't have. Currently, we are able to cover 12,000 virtual machines.

Commvault has what it calls a HyperScale Appliance which is a media agent with the disk. This is the best option for storing data. The media agents are in clusters so they share data. It's a nice feature and I haven't seen any other backup company that has integrated this kind of solution. They always use a third-party vendor for this capability. But that involves communication over the network, something which HyperScale skips.

We plan on using IntelliSnaps more and we are testing the cloud backup. We will use the cloud as a hot-DR location. I expect that will happen this year.

How are customer service and technical support?

From my experience, I have had the best support interactions with Commvault. I always get a response within a couple of hours. If there is a task for Commvault's development side involved in the issue, I get an update every three days that someone is working on it. 

I have yet to find a support engineer at Commvault who has to speak to someone else. They are always able to troubleshoot the issue on the first strike. I can definitely recommend Commvault support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our company previously used NetBackup and TSM. One of the reasons we switched to Commvault was that our company was not satisfied with IBM's support. It was challenging. If support is not able to help you manage problems, you can't use the solution.

The plus with Commvault is that it really focuses on automation for deploying machines and discovering databases, etc. A Commvault administrator doesn't need to understand, in-depth, the application he is backing up because he doesn't need access into the application. It's much more focused on snapshotting for the synchronization between locations. The BMR process can be used across the cloud and on-prem solutions, so you can easily move machines from your environment to a cloud environment. And from that cloud environment you can convert to another vendor in the cloud.

That is all built on the BMR process, which is better than any other backup tool I know. Some of them, like TSM, don't even include a native BMR solution. Instead there is a third-party vendor that does it, so it's not fully-integrated.

I like it when everything is in one console and things can be automated via an internal workflow and deployment is fully automated so I don't need to access the operating system or application platform. Those are all benefits of Commvault.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was really easy for me because I already had experience with NetBackup and TSM. It wasn't difficult for me to understand Commvault's logic. But, in my opinion, it's very easy to understand because the logic involved is minimal yet it offers a lot of configurable options. Because the process for the installation of agents, such as for databases and applications, is fully automated, you don't need to touch the application at all. That is one of the main reasons I prefer Commvault over other tools, where you always need to touch the client.

A basic implementation of Commvault depends on the size of the company. Installation of the server takes a couple of hours, but that is the same as with other backup tools. But the installation of it on clients and their configurations will take days if you don't want to customize it because Commvault comes with pre-defined groups. The process will take a number of days for a small company.

In terms of staff for deployment and maintenance, it could be just one person involved, depending on the roles of the people in the company. This person has to be able to do a lot of things, so it depends on whether he has these responsibilities and the capabilities.

We have about 100 users of the solution because we have a lot of operations.

What was our ROI?

The ROI is there, but I don't have figures on it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Our deployment is primarily on-prem. We are trying to assess the cloud capabilities but it looks like the cloud is more expensive if you want to have the whole infrastructure.

What other advice do I have?

Commvault is more administrator-friendly than other backup tools.

We are using Commvault for cloud support, but that part is at the PoC stage. But it's the same as the on-prem solution. Whether the library is on physical disk or in the cloud, it looks the same in Commvault, so that's not an issue in terms of configuration or use. There are even more cloud vendors than I had heard of and it looks like Commvault supports all of them.

We don't use it, but there is an archive function in Commvault which allows you to move data from primary storage to another type which is much cheaper.

Version 11 of Commvault has been on the market for something like seven years now. They have changed the naming so what they called service packs are now called feature packs. That means they are no longer changing the version number and they do what they call a "platform release." That was changed in SP19. In each new pack they add new features every three months. They also have hotfix releases every week or so.

I'm still surprised that they continue to come out with features that are really nice and that you didn't even think were possible.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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