Comtrade to enhance built-for Nutanix HYCU backup with ESX support

Other new elements, which will be formally announced next week, include an early trial for AFS backup and more efficient support for ROBO environments.

Boston-based Comtrade Software, which makes HYCU backup software that is specifically designed to work with Nutanix, will be announcing significant enhancements to their product next week. The main one is support for the ESX hypervisor. However, they will also include deeper application support for Microsoft Exchange and SQL, more efficient backup and disaster recovery for ROBO environments, blueprints for the upcoming Nutanix Calm Marketplace, and a beta for Acropolis File Services [AFS]. Comtrade is highlighting the new functionality this week at the Nutanix .NEXT event in Nice, France.

Comtrade unveiled HYCU at the Nutanix .NEXT event in Washington D.C. at the end of June, and the results since then have been strong.

“We now have well over 100 deployments, with over 20 of those having paid, and a great pipeline,” said Subbiah Sundaram, Comtrade’s VP of Products. “We also have customers from all over the world, not just North America. We are strongly aligned with what Nutanix sells, and are recommended by the Nutanix sales team as the backup provider they work with most often. A lot of our customers also work with Cloudian, Scality, ExaGrid and Google, so we have partnered with all of them.”

HYCU – the acronym stands for hyper-converged up-time – can back up to any Nutanix cluster, or to Nutanix OEMs – Lenovo HX, and Dell XC. It also backs up to NAS like ExaGrid, Data Domain and Quantum, as well as the Azure and Amazon clouds. 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.

However, while HYCU was designed for the Nutanix AHV hypervisor, not all Nutanix customers use AHV, which was not original to the Nutanix software, but developed several years after the product was introduced.

“About two-thirds of Nutanix customers use the VMware ESX hypervisor, with the remaining third using AHV,” Sundaram said. “We have gotten a lot of requests from customers for ESX support, because they want to have the flexibility to stay on ESX and migrate to AHV at the pace that they choose.”

Chad Cunningham is one of the owners of Calgary-based Ironclad TEK, Nutanix’s partner of the year in southern Alberta. Ironclad TEK met Comtrade at the June .NEXT event and were impressed with HYCU’s simplicity.

“For that niche of customers on AHV niche, they have been a great option,” Cunningham said. “As they expand into ESX we are interested in that too, particularly if they can bring that same simplicity to the ESX world.”

Kjetil Aarflot, Senior Systems Architect at Ironclad TEK, liked the way that HYCU handles ESX.

“It’s really good because they have set it up the same way as AHV – making it so the AHV admin can do it all from start to finish,” he said. “We don’t have to have multiple roles in the environment any more. That’s what I really like about it.”

Sundaram said that their backup of ESX is very efficient.

“Everyone else uses VMware backup protocols to backup VMware,” Sundaram said. “Because we leverage Nutanix storage level snapshots, we don’t get the I/O latency that causes VM stuns during the data protection process. This makes recovery very fast.”

Backup and recovery capability for ROBO environments has been improved. The problem here has been customers do not usually want to set up backup targets in each remote site, because they would have to manage them.

“What we have done here is work with Nutanix to leverage DR replicas as backup targets,” Sundaram said. “Backing up from the DR copies without having to go to the source saves WAN bandwidth by 50 per cent, because you use the same data for backup and for DR.”

Sundaram said that this is especially feasible for ROBO environments because of the simplicity of these smaller sites.

“From a technology perspective, there is really nothing that would prevent this method from being used for larger sites as well, but our current recommendation is that it be used for ROBO,” he noted.

HYCU will be available as a blueprint for Nutanix customers on the Calm Marketplace. Calm, which is part of the Nutanix Prism management software, is adding an integrated marketplace to share application designs across an organization. Calm defines these applications through blueprints, which can be provisioned, managed and scaled into different cloud environments.

“Customers can launch and deploy HYCU on any cluster they choose with a single click,” Sundaram said.

HYCU is also expanding support for core Microsoft applications. Support for Exchange is new. Support for SQL Server and Active Directory are both enhanced, adding mailbox level recovery as well as the capability to clone entire instances for test and development, and to restore individual databases to different instances.

Finally, Comtrade will be announcing early trials for Nutanix Acropolis Filesystem [AFS] AFS Backup and Recovery.

“AFS is a scale-out file system, and it normally takes a long time to back these up – like 10 hours,” Sundaram said. “The first one is easy – it’s the others that take the time. We asked Nutanix to develop a CFD Change File Tracking API.” It leverages AFS’ scale out capability, and does the backups in parallel, reducing the time to back up to 1/100th of what it would have been otherwise.

“As Nutanix AFS scales, our backup can scale along with it,” Sundaram added “This is all complicated stuff, but it is completely hidden from the customers.”

The new AFS backup will have a general release in Q1 of next year. All the other elements of the announcement are available now.