Commvault and Microsoft have announced a multi-year strategic partnership agreement that will see the two companies collaborate on engineering, go-to-market opportunities and sales. What does this represent for the state of data protection in the cloud, and will this bring benefits for everyone involved in data management?
The Microsoft and Commvault partnership focuses on Metallic, a SaaS-based data protection solution launched by Commvault at GO in 2019. Metallic currently offers protection for cloud-based workloads, on-premises data protection and SaaS applications. Metallic itself runs on Microsoft Azure in the public cloud, consuming native cloud resources including Azure Blob storage.
What will the partnership entail? Commvault has highlighted three main areas:
- Engineering – this work includes the development of standards and improving data protection for SaaS and PaaS services,
- Go-to-Market – this includes demand generation and expanding Metallic globally (currently, the solution supports North America only).
- Sales – co-selling into accounts and incentivising sales teams selling Metallic on Azure.
Obvious there’s much more to this relationship. Additional details are available in the Commvault press release.
At first inspection, this partnership seems like a straightforward approach to collaboration. However, there is the potential for so much more. Firstly, as I’ve highlighted before, we need to move towards greater automation and implementation of APIs across storage and data protection. Backup APIs have existed for years, but the maturity of data protection in the public cloud is just not there yet.
- The Need for APIs in Storage and Data Protection
- Nutanix Mine Puts Backup Software Vendors on a Level Playing Field
Public cloud vendors could, of course, write their own data protection solutions. AWS already has AWS Backup, and both Microsoft and Google offer some limited integrated data protection capabilities. But there’s a lot more work to do (including better protection for cloud native platforms like databases).
As we move to a hybrid and multi-cloud model, islands of applications, data and backups add more technical debt to the capability of making workloads genuinely portable. Enterprises will want and need the ability to move data and applications around infrastructure, in just the same way they did with on-premises multi-vendor architectures. We’re not there yet, because the learning curve of adopting any single cloud is enormous (never mind three or four).
However, cloud vendors need to embrace on-premises data and applications, either to encourage migration to the public cloud or to accept that hybrid computing is a reality. Much as AWS, Azure or GCP might hope that they are the preferred and only platform of choice for an enterprise, the truth is that the delivery of services will consume products from all platforms, on and off-premises.
As we saw with the introduction of Nutanix Mine, vendors have a standard API against which data protection is implemented. With vendors on a level playing field, the value to be gained comes from how the protected data is exploited. For example, Metallic currently protects mainly cloud-based workloads, while traditional Commvault applications generally protect enterprise solutions. Commvault could bring these solutions together and enable data migration into the public cloud through backup & restore while maintaining the data protection history of the application. This process offers a powerful set of features, benefiting from the incumbent position Commvault (and others) have in this market.
Vendors building solutions for hybrid environments will need:
- to support multiple platforms and environments with a consistent look & feel (and policy)
- enable data portability between clouds and perpetual access to protected data for applications, irrespective of location
- Provide centralised reporting to track data compliance and quantify data assets
These are all features we’ve talked about before and are becoming increasingly important.
The Architect’s View
Commvault is on a multi-year journey of re-invention. Associating with Microsoft will build the strength of Metallic and evolve standards for integrated data protection. I’ll be watching closely to see how Commvault executes this transition. More than ever, data protection, data management, data analytics, data mobility and data archive are getting closer together as we start to see the true separation of data from infrastructure.
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