Actifio is now part of Google Cloud. Read the full announcement.

CommVault vs Actifio

By Michael Troiano, Chief Marketing Officer  –  CommVault is killing it right now. The backup software provider tells a story a lot like ours: a single, “simple” approach to data protection that delivers dramatic savings through a revolutionary approach to storage virtualization. They’re the folks with whom we’re most often compared by customers and analysts, and given their momentum in the marketplace, you’d think we’d be flattered by it.

The truth is, we’re not.

CommVault vs ActifioFor all that CommVault is doing well right now (and that’s a lot), they’re really just another legacy backup software vendor, albeit one doing a better job positioning their data protection offerings in the context of today’s data center challenges. CommVault’s success is coming entirely at the expense of other legacy backup ISVs like Symantec and EMC, in part because they’ve done a better job collecting their still-disparate data protection tools under a single management interface.

Actifio is something different – a totally new data management platform that renders the legacy, siloed approaches to data protection obsolete.  We’re not slapping a dashboard on the siloes that have evolved over the last 20 years, and calling it new. We’ve rebuilt the whole approach from the ground up, leveraging 21st century technology to better support 21st century business requirements.

Here are the 3 ways – specifically – our technology is both different and better.


It’s important to remember that CommVault is a re-branding of the old AT&T Network Systems division, and that Simpana itself is built on the 15-year old “Galaxy” architecture created in the 1990’s.  In other words, CommVault’s products were conceived, designed, and developed long before the technology waves of virtualization, cloud, and big data.

Technically, CommVault’s approach is a reflection of its legacy roots.  It is a very complex, heavy product set that requires extensive professional services to setup and deploy.  Its backup, restore, and replication features all require data movement and software agents, which cost time, production cycles, storage capacity, and bandwidth.  CommVault relies heavily on production storage snapshots and server agents, and customers who buy it find they need separate modules in order to backup, analyze, replicate, protect, archive, and search data. Peel off the excellent packaging of their product suite, and “OnePass” starts to look a lot more like “SixPass.” The complex integration necessary to combine these disparate systems provides evidence of this hidden complexity.

Actifio is different. Rather than work to mask the complexity of the old way of doing things, Actifio started with a clean sheet of paper in 2009. Our design started with the knowledge that data centers were becoming highly virtualized compute, with converged infrastructures to work at cloud scale, and struggling to cope with new Big Data pressures.  We recognized then that the complex tangle of expensive, multi-vendor software and hardware solutions most companies use to manage Backup, Snapshot, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, and Test & Dev environments all perform the same four basic functions – Copy, Move, Store and Recover – what we call the data management “primitives.”  From there we developed a single, radically simple system with a “virtual data pipeline” that virtualizes underlying storage and data management functions at an unprecedented scale.  Actifio’s solutions are purpose-built to manage the class of data now called “copy data” that’s really driving the storage explosion inside the modern enterprise.


Rather than work up from the complex landscape of storage, Actifio works down from the application-based requirements of an SLA.  Actifio’s consumer-grade user experience is built around applications and the service levels required to protect and manage the data within those apps.   Four clicks define an SLA, which are then applied in a single-click to the automatically discovered applications, VMs, or hosts.  Once the data from your application is “bound” to an SLA, Actifio creates a single snapshot of that data, tracks changes to it, and stores a de-duplicated “golden” copy wherever you’d like – on Actifio storage or your existing third-party storage, on-premises or in the cloud.

Restore is instantaneous with Actifio.  Point in time copies of data can be mounted instantly for direct read/write access.  That means an RTO measured in seconds, not hours or days, no matter how much data you’re talking about.  And infinite virtual clones can be created for development, test, and QA requirements without placing a burden on production systems.

And that’s it. With our approach you don’t need separate applications for backup, snapshot, business continuity, and all the rest.  In a single license, you get the benefits of data deduplication, compression, snapshot, replication, instant mount, clone, restore, virtual data pipeline, and carrier-class scalability.  There are no heavy server agents, no backup windows, no need for host- or array-based replication licenses, or WAN optimizers as much less data is moved across your network.  Unlike CommVault, Actifio can protect data over the IP network or within a storage network, in either case delivering application- and/or crash-consistent RPOs, and heterogeneous storage migration.

Actifio puts you in control of what you really care about – protecting the applications that run your business. It lets you tie SLAs to specific application data however you like, according to the current requirements of your application, rather than the legacy architecture of your storage vendor. The rest should just happen, and it does.


With this precipitous drop in complexity is a precipitous drop in cost. With Actifio, you’re supporting less hardware, fewer software licenses, less bandwidth, and a dramatically smaller overall storage footprint, resulting in a total cost of up to 90% less than what you’ll pay for the equivalent functionality from CommVault or any other legacy backup vendor. Enterprise Strategy Group said our savings could add  to up to 29X traditional vendors.

I’ll say that again… feature for feature, SLA for SLA, Actifio can cost up to 90% less than CommVault.

As opposed to Actifio’s single, all-in price, CommVault gets expensive fast, with licensing assigned per module, client, application, or terabyte. Underlying storage costs also add up fast with CommVault, as they create multiple dedupe pools as they optimize for data types, therefore losing any economies of scale from global deduplication.  CommVault also needs additional servers to run deduplication and replication, which need to be factored into the total cost of the solution.

Though they’ll often offer deep discounts to get the first deal, they’ll make up for it with maintenance charges along the road. Their latest 10K in fact shows that 2/3rd of their revenue comes from existing accounts, indicating that maintenance charges are driving revenue, not customer growth. And remember… their product is going to require a costly and extensive PS engagement to put in place, because it’s so complex.

On closer inspection Actifio and CommVault are in fact pretty different. They’re saying all the right things when it comes to defining the next generation of enterprise storage technology. But Actifio is delivering on them – today – with the only system purpose-built to do exactly that.

If you’re thinking about CommVault, check us out. You’ll be glad you did.

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