Comtrade enhances built-for-Nutanix HYCU backup solution

Comtrade launched their purpose-built solution for Nutanix three months ago. The new version includes the ability to set Nutanix Storage Dense nodes as backup targets, and adding autodiscovery for Microsoft Active Directory.


At the end of June, at the Nutanix .NEXT event in Washington D.C.,  Boston-based Comtrade Software unveiled HYCU, the first data protection solution designed specifically for the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform. Now based on customer feedback, they are announcing a new 1.5 version.

“Since the launch at .NEXT, there has  been tremendous excitement,” said Subbiah Sundaram, Head of Data Protection at Comtrade Software. “We have met a lot of customers, and now have over 100 who have deployed HYCU and are at different stages of evaluation. By the end of the month, we expect to have a couple dozen paying customers.”

Comtrade, which had been services-focused for many years, got into software products by developing monitoring tools to Citrix – that they later sold to them. They then decided to develop a purpose-built backup and recovery product focused on a market leader, which turned out to be Nutanix. HYCU – an acronym standing for hyper-converged up-time – was designed to be both state of the art and simple to use. The user interface looks and feels like the Nutanix Prism AI, and HYCU runs on the Nutanix system, not in a separate silo. Tight integration lets customers deploy in under three minutes and recover in under two.

“Customers like Nutanix’s simplicity,” Sundaram said. “Partners see that their customers want self- service, automation and simplicity. They need a solution that matches the philosophy. We are highly aligned with Nutanix’s sales motion and product focus to further this.”

Sundaram said that the most common request from customers was the ability to set Nutanix Storage Dense nodes as backup targets.

“We have done this in 1.5 by taking advantage of the ABS [Acropolis Block Service] scale-out storage protocol,” he stated. Transferring backup data through ABS and load balancing the traffic from the Nutanix production system to the target nodes significantly reduces the backup window.

In response to requests from managed service providers additional storage infrastructure providers are now supported.

“Many of these providers, use object storage, and wanted us to support Cloudian and Scality,” Sundaram said. “So we now support them, in addition to AWS and Azure, which we supported before.”

Application support has been expanded to provide for automated discovery and consistent backup and recovery of Microsoft Active Directory.

“HYCI has autodiscovery to discover what apps are on a server, but we didn’t have the autodiscovery part for Microsoft Active Directory before,” Sundaram indicated. Since most Nutanix customers also run Active Directory on their Nutanix Cluster, this was the application for discovery customers most wanted to see added.

That deeper integration with Active Directory is valuable, said Richard Brown, owner of Vancouver B.C.-based OPUS Consulting Group.

“They hadn’t done this before because they were focused more at the API level of the hypervisor,” Brown said. “Now they are getting more granular, and improving the management capability.”

Security has been enhanced, in ways likely to be most attractive to government customers.

“Nutanix has done a great job in the federal space, so we were also getting a lot of requests here,” Sundaram said. “We are now FIPS 140-2 compliant. We have also added full end-to-end encryption. We  had encryption for the cloud before, but customers wanted data that was not on the cloud to be  encrypted as well.”

Enhancements have also been made to allow large multi-TB VMs to be created to fit very specific customer use cases.

“Customers wanted this, so we worked with Nutanix to find a way to parallelize the whole operation, Sundaram noted. “We also worked with Nutanix in optimizing the right block sizes for backup here. For advanced uses, who wanted to keep up to 30 copies locally for a day for local recovery, we have also given them the flexibility to do that.”

Reporting and alerting has also been improved in Version 1.5.

“We told them from Day One that they need better alerting in the platform about what’s failing,” said OPUS Consulting Group’s Brown. “The result is major improvements in proactive alerting in 1.5. The reporting is also improved. It was okay before, but is now much better”

OPUS is an infrastructure consultancy that builds servers networking, security, and storage systems, with a client base that goes from small to organizations with several thousand users. A successful Nutanix partner, they encountered HYCU at the .NEXT conference.

“For us, this has been a light bulb going off,” Brown said. “About 80 per cent of Nutanix for us is displacing HyperV and VMware with Acropolis. The problem was that there hasn’t been a great backup for it. HYCU has easily customizable policy templates. It ties in with the whole theme of simplified management.”