Commvault Metallic review: All about that BaaS

A slick backup solution with a big choice of protection modules and easily manageable costs

A screenshot of Commvault Metallic's status dashboard
Price
£3 per user, per month (Office 365 Backup)
  • Easy to deploy
  • Choice of protection modules
  • Upfront pricing
  • Excellent VM recovery features
  • Fast support response
  • Simplistic online documentation

Commvault has always been best known for its mastery of on-premises backup and recovery, but its Metallic offering catapults it firmly into the cloud. This BaaS (Backup as a Service) offering is a hybrid solution that combines on-site protection with cloud backup and represents great value as you only pay for the modules you need.

Metallic was first launched in the US in 2019 and Commvault has now made it available across many other regions, including the UK. It provides eight separate protection modules covering Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Active Directory (AD), VMware, Hyper-V, Azure VM and Kubernetes virtualisation hosts, databases, file and object storage, and endpoint protection. 

Metallic is very flexible; along with its own cloud storage, customers can choose to use their Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure cloud storage as backup destinations. All modules are managed from the same cloud portal and Commvault claims Metallic is so easy to use, you can be up and running with your first backups in 15 minutes.

Commvault Metallic review: Pricing and deployment

We particularly like the fact that Metallic is completely upfront about its pricing schemes and you can choose to pay monthly or yearly. Prices for SaaS-based workloads such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce and the Endpoint backup module are based only on the number of users and include unlimited Metallic cloud storage.

Initial deployment is a simple process. After signing up for a 30-day trial account, we logged into our personal cloud portal which presented a basic overview of module activity and quick access to user management, documentation and support cases. The hamburger icon at the top left provides a drop-down menu where you can choose from the eight backup modules, and the trial allows you to use any or all of them.

A screenshot of Commvault Metallic's Exchange file restoration tools

The advanced view takes you to a new page which provides full access to all modules, views of active and completed jobs, report creation tools and alert monitoring. You can check on the status of your local backup storage and if you’re using your own cloud storage, it’ll show the status of that as well. 

Commvault Metallic review: Protecting Microsoft 365

Metallic’s 15-minute setup claim is easy enough to achieve when protecting Microsoft 365; just choose this module from the home page and create a new configuration. A drop-down menu offers options for Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Teams and after selecting Exchange, we were presented with an express wizard requesting our global administrative account.

The only thing you must do during this phase is disable MFA (multi-factor authentication) but don’t panic - this can be turned back on afterwards. Metallic then proceeds to create an Exchange Online service account, syncs with Azure and asks you to authorise the app.

During backup plan creation, we selected all our Exchange mailboxes and as we were using Metallic cloud storage (located in the UK), could choose from 5-year, 7-year or infinite retention periods. The plan automatically runs every eight hours and you can view its protection status from the portal’s home page.

Recovery is a swift process too - we selected specific Exchange users, chose a recovery point and could restore entire mailboxes or individual messages. We tested the latter by deleting some emails from one account, browsed their Inbox from the portal and restored them in one minute.

A screenshot of Commvault Metallic's Exchange backup module

We also created a plan to protect our OneDrive for Business users. After they had been backed up, we could browse files for selected accounts and decide whether to restore them to their original locations or send them to another user.

Commvault Metallic review: VM protection

Protecting our on-site Hyper-V and VMware virtualization hosts, on the other hand, required a bit more work as we had to deploy a Metallic gateway first. This requires a Windows Server 2016 or 2019 host and handles communications between sources and destinations as well as managing all caching, deduplication and hash tables. 

The gateway is simple to install but we hit a glitch when declaring it to our account as the portal stated it needed its FQDN (fully qualified domain name) which wasn’t displayed anywhere. The very basic online documentation was of no help so we tried using the portal’s support chat facility and to our surprise, a technician responded in one minute advising that all we had to enter was the Gateway’s hostname.

VM protection plans are wizard-driven, and for on-site primary backup storage we used a share on a Qnap NAS appliance - which we had no problems declaring to Metallic using its UNC path. To protect Hyper-V VMs, you need to install a small footprint media agent on the host but VMware doesn’t require any extra bits and pieces, as Metallic uses VMware’s VAIO filters.

VM recovery features are outstanding and include options to restore individual guest files, the VM configuration, the entire VM or its VMDK files. Live recovery and live mount provide super-fast VM restores and we tested the latter using a Windows Server 2022 VMware VM, which was loaded directly from a stored on-site backup and ready for action in three minutes.

A screenshot of Commvault Metallic's VM backup module

Commvault Metallic review: Endpoint backup

The Endpoint module is another easy one to deploy: you simply use the portal to email invitations to your mobile users which contain a link to download the Metallic Edge app. Versions are available for Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Once installed, the app connects to your Metallic account, takes its settings from the assigned plan and automatically backs up their data to cloud storage.

The Edge app creates a new drive letter so Windows users can access their latest cloud backups directly from Explorer for drag and drop restores. It also provides a link that loads their personal Metallic cloud portal where they can browse files and folders, choose restore points, recover data and share files with other account users. 

Commvault Metallic review: Verdict

‘Keep it simple’ is the first and second rule of backup club, and Commvault Metallic succeeds admirably here. It offers a smart hybrid solution that’s easily managed from a single cloud portal, supports a wide range of workloads and doesn’t play hide and seek with pricing. 

Commvault Metallic supported workloads

Active Directory

Active Directory, Azure Active Directory

Database

Oracle, Oracle RAC, SAP HANA, SQL Server

Dynamics 365

CRM applications

Endpoint

Windows 7 and macOS 10.14 upwards, Linux

File & Object

Windows, Linux/UNIX, Azure Blob, Azure Files

Microsoft 365

Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Teams

Salesforce

Production and sandbox environments

VM & Kubernetes

VMware, Hyper-V, Azure AVS, VMware Cloud, Kubernetes

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