Commvault optimizes larger incremental backups with Nutanix Files 3.5 integration

Nutanix Mine architecture

Data protection vendor Commvault has leveraged their partnership with Nutanix to announce full integration of Commvault Complete Backup and Recovery with Nutanix Files 3.5. A key element of this is Commvault’s ability to immediately support the new Changed File Tracking [CFT] capabilities of Nutanix File, which will allow for much more efficient identification and backup of files which have been changed.

“We have had a very good long-standing integration relationship with Nutanix which extends for many years, and which has seen some of their key integrations pioneered with us,” said Brian Brockway, Commvault’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our experience in the enterprise space and knowledge of a lot of traditional challenges in it have assisted in their development of particular capabilities.”

Nutanix Files 3.5, which Nutanix announced in March, is one of these.

“Nutanix Files is the packaging of AFS [Acropolis File Services] into more consumable workloads in a file services environment, to provide a larger set of capabilities,” Brockway said.

A key innovation in File 3.5 was Changed File Tracking [CFT] API integration, to make incremental backups where only files which have been changed are backed up, which makes the process more efficient in larger environments.

“The key question in doing this efficiently is ‘how big are your files,’ and 10-20 TB systems weren’t a taxing environment,” Brockway said. “However, many of the file environments we now are hundreds of TB in size – with billions of files. In that kind of environment, incrementally looking for changes could take three days!” Nutanix has built file change notification service into their system. This allows us to get our list of changed files much faster, which lets us be much more efficient with our incremental backups, so that we can run them much faster. The engineering we do to reduce the backup window is applied in reverse fashion with restore.”

In their blog posting announcing Files 3.5, Nutanix specifically highlighted the engineering integration with Commvault, announcing that they were the first out of the gate to support this particular feature designed to shorten backup windows.

“Nutanix Files change file tracking dramatically reduces scan time for incremental backup operations which is often a bottleneck for traditional NAS backup operations,” said Sam Grover, Product Manager, Virtualization, at Nutanix. “In our lab testing with the Commvault platform, we were able to scan 300K changed files in roughly 8 minutes.”

“We have been doing engineering work on the optimization for bigger environments, and are now announcing that we have just added that in a service pack,” Brockway said.

Commvault expects that this new integration will help continue their momentum with Nutanix that they have been seeing among larger customers.

“We have always been midmarket to upper market-focused, and with Nutanix, when we started the AHV integration, that was right around when they began to transition into HCI for larger deployments,” Brockway said.  “We have seen in our larger customer base more adoption of AHV and Nutanix in general, particularly as renewals come up. Emerson [which appeared on stage at .NEXT with Nutanix CEO Pandey], Commvault and Nutanix are a common three way map, as a lot of mid to-larger customers have been more aggressively adopting expanded workloads from Nutanix.”

With this release, all Nutanix Files data protected by Commvault can now be ingested using the Commvault Activate data discovery solution, so that the data is indexed and made available for deep content-based searches.

Commvault was also identified at the Nutanix .NEXT event as one of five data protection vectors who have partnered with Nutanix around Nutanix Mine, their new backup-as-a-service offering which brings Nutanix into the hyper-converged infrastructure [HCI] secondary storage market for the first time.

“The HCI environment is not just storage, a place to write data, but also a place to compute,” Brockway said. “We’ve always been openminded in utilizing that with the efficiency model we deliver. We tried years ago to get a reference architecture into Nutanix for something like Mine, but it was too expensive back then.”

While Nutanix’s design partner around Mine was Veeam, which is stronger in the SMB and midmarket space than the enterprise, Commvault thinks Mine is better suited to the enterprise play on which they are focused.

“This is new scale-out for secondary storage, and is a nice value for us to match into,” Brockway said. “For customers looking to expand more Nutanix around enterprise workloads, it’s a perfect match.”

Integrated support for Nutanix Files 3.5 is available in the current release of Commvault Complete Backup and Recovery. Commvault support for Nutanix Mines is slated for some point in the second half of 2019.

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