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Commvault Competitors and Alternatives

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JD
Systems Team Supervisor at State of Nevada
Real User
A simple, flexible, set-and-forget SaaS solution

Pros and Cons

  • "It is just about as flexible as you can get; simple. You can put it anywhere you want. You can put it on-prem or in your cloud. I could see where a team that's looking for more of a follow the bouncy ball type of solution might get a little confused. "Oh, no. What do you mean I might have to do it this way or I can't do it that way?" Sometimes, people just want to be told what to do. For an enterprise environment, like we are at NDOT, everything we do is not standard. It is not industry standard; it is not normal. We have all kinds of one-offs. We do need flexibility in the solutions that we get. I will say that Metallic has been extremely flexible in that sense, where we are able to follow the bouncy ball if we wanted to. Obviously, we didn't. We did it our way and Metallic, as a whole solution, provided that to us with no issues."
  • "Getting my guys the right access has a learning curve. Sometimes, it is, "Oh, okay. I think I got it for you." Then, they say, "Oh, nope. I logged in but I can't see this." Then, it is, "Okay, hold on. Give me a second. Let me change that. Okay, it's this one." That learning curve has probably taken a little bit longer than some simpler things. So, Metallic has some granularity, and as a systems administrator, I appreciate that. At the same time, I also realize that I have to learn it."

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, Metallic has helped us out tremendously from a backup and restore situation. We just had a pretty major restore that we had to do from Metallic two weeks ago for a file that was basically deleted five days ago, and they needed a copy from seven days prior to that. My whole team walked through the restore in about two to three minutes. We basically figured out which buttons to push, then the restore was done 30 seconds later. That was an eye-opener at that point, because we understand what a great decision we made by going with Metallic.

If you ask me today whether Metallic was appropriate for an enterprise-level environment, then I would say, "Yes." If you asked me a year and a half ago, I would have said, "No." Normally, you would think that a cloud-only backup type solution probably wouldn't work for an enterprise environment. Then, here comes NDOT and we're about as enterprise as it gets when it comes to the state of Nevada. Right now, we are doing all kinds of neat stuff with this solution where normally you would need an on-premises solution. They have me convinced now. We are backing up stuff that I couldn't get MABS or Rapid Recovery to backup, and those are on-prem and cloud, e.g., hybrid solutions. If we wanted to, we could go to hybrid with Metallic, but their cloud solution is so stable right now.

I ran the solution through my CISO. When it comes to server guys, I am probably the security-conscious systems guy on our team. I went to the same training that our CISO did. Between him and me, we love Metallic. We think their security is definitely acceptable at a high level.

What is most valuable?

The ease of use is the most valuable feature, which keeps the training down. Pretty much anybody in my group right now can do a whole bunch with Metallic compared to what we could do with our previous solution, on-prem Commvault. The ease of use is probably my number one priority. With the amount of systems that our systems team deals with, the ease of use is the most important thing. We were bouncing around all of the time from this system to that system to this system, trying to remember how things work. Whereas, Metallic keeps it simple.

It is just about as flexible as you can get; simple. You can put it anywhere you want. You can put it on-prem or in your cloud. I could see where a team that's looking for more of a follow the bouncy ball type of solution might get a little confused. "Oh, no. What do you mean I might have to do it this way or I can't do it that way?" Sometimes, people just want to be told what to do. For an enterprise environment, like we are at NDOT, everything we do is not standard. It is not industry standard; it is not normal. We have all kinds of one-offs. We do need flexibility in the solutions that we get. I will say that Metallic has been extremely flexible in that sense, where we are able to follow the bouncy ball if we wanted to. Obviously, we didn't. We did it our way and Metallic, as a whole solution, provided that to us with no issues.

What needs improvement?

Permissions can be tricky. There is granularity when trying to get people to write permissions to be able to view, backup, and restore. It is just hard to understand that granularity. I can't even 100% say that it is Commvault. I can say it is not super cut-and-dry right out of the gate. However, I would also say it is great because it is granular.

Getting my guys the right access has a learning curve. Sometimes, it is, "Oh, okay. I think I got it for you." Then, they say, "Oh, nope. I logged in but I can't see this." Then, it is, "Okay, hold on. Give me a second. Let me change that. Okay, it's this one." That learning curve has probably taken a little bit longer than some simpler things. So, Metallic has some granularity, and as a systems administrator, I appreciate that. At the same time, I also realize that I have to learn it.

Seven to eight months ago, the documentation needed improvement, but they have caught up on it now.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for a year. My team has been using it for about seven to eight months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a very stable platform.

Right now, we have seven guys on my team and two of us are setting up the backups. The other five of us are strictly doing restores mainly until we get all our backups entirely into the cloud and clean up the groups. I really just need two guys doing that, a junior admin and me. The junior admin has been setting this all up because he will be around for another 15 years. I might as well have him learn it now and be our guru.

For the most part, it does the updates for us. There is a piece that we own down on our network and there is a piece that they own on their network. For the most part, the piece that they own is definitely the bigger of the two. With that being said, our version that we are running on-premises needs an update, which basically means that it is waiting on a server restart. Our servers restart once a month, so I imagine it is scheduled to restart on Sunday. Then, we will get that up-to-date. Metallic pushes it out, then our server installs it. Metallic is mostly on the hook for updates and keeping things up-to-date.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is 100% scalable.

We were on a hybrid system, which was on-prem and in the cloud as well as local. We had probably 10% of our servers that were backing up locally to themselves. We had about 40% of our big, large servers backing up on-premises. Then, the other percentage was backing up to the cloud.

Once we moved to Commvault, instead of about 80% of my servers backing up to the cloud, we will shortly have them all going to the cloud. Now, I'm not hybrid, but in a simple solution, which is a cloud backup solution. Adding to that is as simple as going to Azure, and saying, "Hey, I need this storage count to be a little bit bigger," as long as I have pre-planned the amount that I would buy from Metallic. In other words, Metallic gives us a price on 100 servers. I know that I have 50, and I am good to scale for another 50. All I have to do at that point is go into my Azure tenant, have it give me some more storage, and at that point now I am scaling.

Now, if I need to, I get a hold of Larry over there in Metallic, and I say, "Hey, buddy. I need to add another 50 servers." Then, he gives me a price quote, and we pay them again. The solution is simple, easy, and scalable. I don't need to buy hardware. I don't have a bunch of engineers down here reassessing our environment. I just got to add some more storage to the cloud, then I start sending more data out to the cloud. I would say, "Scalability is wow." They have done a great job there.

I had a conversation yesterday, between me and my manager, about when we will use Metallic's Office 365 Backup & Recovery. First, we need to get our backups. Between the Metallic solution, the file storage optimization, and now the 365, which are the three things that we have gotten from Commvault over the last year. File storage optimization is next, then 365 is after that. I am going to say sometime in October.

How are customer service and technical support?

So far, I would give Commvault tech support 10 out of 10. We have dealt with some good and some bad tech supports. Between Microsoft, Dell, and Commvault, those three solutions are at the top of my list when it comes to support.

Anything that we find is usually something that we can fix ourselves. We can get ahold of support, then support takes care of it.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS), but there were many problems with it. We turned around, started using Metallic about a year ago. I tested it out. We now have 80% of our servers being backed up to Metallic. We will probably have the rest in the next six to eight weeks. At that point, for the first time in two years, we will have all our servers completely backed up.

When we used to have the on-prem version of Commvault, it was nothing like Metallic. Metallic is a different solution, but it is Commvault. Back in those days, when we had Commvault, it was pretty complex. It was very granular. It had many features, but it was complex. You really only could have one or two guys working on it.

We left Commvault five years ago because the grass is always greener on the other side and cheaper: bigger, better, and stronger. Of course, we came to find out: none of the above. Nothing was true. Basically, we were talked into it by Dell EMC. My old manager, the person whose position I now have, was talked into using Quest Rapid Recovery product by Dell EMC, saying, "Hey, you don't need Commvault. They are one of the biggest backup solutions in the world, and we are an up-and-coming, starting company. We're going to make it cheaper for you. We are just as good. We will show you some cool demos." Those demos looked great. Of course, we went with it. To make a long story short, in the four and a half years that we had Quest Rapid Recovery, we were never compliant on our backups, not once. We were duped.

We are finally back with Commvault, and we now have a 100% compliance backup solution. 

We switched to Metallic because of money. Right now, we are paying less for Metallic than we ever were for Rapid Recovery. I have reclaimed man-hours back for my team. I had one guy for five to six hours a day managing those two other systems, Microsoft Azure Backup and Quest. I lost four to six hours a day for one of my top-level guys by having him troubleshooting that all day long. By going to Metallic, we have freed up man-hours, infrastructure costs, and the time to manage.

How was the initial setup?

I did the first initial setup all by myself. I had it set up in about an hour and a half, then I was backing up a server in about an hour and 45 minutes. It was pretty easy. That was our proof of concept testing. I did that for about three or four months, then I blew it up, broke it, and reimplemented it. 

When we started using this solution, it was seven months into its infancy. By the time we bought it, they had just hit their first year. It has definitely changed around making things a little easier, instead of having to go: here, here, here, here, and there. They have simplified things. They have created nice new little shortcuts. 

The interface now is super easy. You can fumble around in there, then after awhile, you are like, "Okay. That is how this works."

The process of switching to Metallic was really easy. We actually ran Metallic backups during the MABS backup. In other words, we were actually backing up with those solutions as we migrated to Metallic. Of course, we had to age-off. The fact that we did not have to turn off the other backups so Metallic could do its backups made the implementation extremely easy. The cut over was easy. 

We were able to run it in parallel with the other system. It didn't cause any issues. It tells me right there that it's not the same design. Because if it was the same design, then we would've had to turn off the other one which means that we would not get backups for two or three weeks while Metallic catches up. That is not always a good thing to do when you are talking about important systems. Because of Metallic's different way that it backs up, we were able to run it in parallel. The implementation was very simple. It wasn't like we had to go and pull the tablecloth out from underneath the glasses while they were still sitting on the table. It was extremely seamless because of the fact that their backups are done differently than the not-so-good solution we were going with.

What about the implementation team?

I had a couple phone calls with engineers and broke it really good a few times, to the point where it even broke up their stuff there. Once we decided we were going to buy the product and implement it into our environment, they set up a couple of calls with their top level engineers and had us set it up even better than I did in my test environments. They were really good about helping us. So, their assistance and the ease of setup were great.

After it was approved through our infrastructure technical committee, I needed to get a call set up with their engineers for an initial setup of the plans. The first plan to get going the way they recommend. Because when I was testing, I tested from every angle. I broke the heck out of it to know its limitations. We created an initial phone call with their engineers, who helped us set up the first 20 VMs to get backed up under their idea of how they set the system up to work. This was good because I didn't understand this when I was doing my testing. I just did the things I thought that were supposed to be done.

We had a second follow-up call with them. That second follow-up call was for any questions that we had for the month in-between what we were doing with our backups, e.g., checking things out and playing around. They answered a whole bunch of questions for us and helped us set up single sign-on. It was a smooth process. They were willing to help us out, which helped us out tremendously. We basically used their support to help us implement the solution.

Once you set up a bunch of these backups, you will get notified in an email if they are wrong. If you're not adding anything the next day or another server, there is no reason for you to even be in there, unless there is a restore. 

At the moment, we are trying to add 400-plus servers. Therefore, we are going to have a guy in there for half an hour to an hour a day adding a few more servers. When adding a few more servers, you need to be careful. You don't want to rock the boat too much, then all of a sudden you have a big problem. So, it is just a little bit at a time. Right now, we are talking about an hour once or twice a week. Once our servers are sitting up there and this stuff is going, there should be no maintenance. 

I have made this very clear to my team. I don't need a guy in there, like we did with Rapid Recovery, chasing down errors. There are no errors. It is backing up. It will tell you when it is not. Then, when it's not backing up, we will tackle that. 

I just don't see a lot of maintenance on this solution. Management of it really has nothing to do with anything unless you are fixing or reimplementing something. For the most part, once you set it, then it is a set-and-forget SaaS solution.

What was our ROI?

We have a seven-man team. I am the supervisor with six guys underneath me, who are all veteran IT professionals. One of those gentlemen, a $100,000 a year guy, was on Rapid Recovery for four to six hours a day, every day for the four years that we had it. He was just maintaining it, fixing problems and backup errors. When we went to MABS, it was the same problem. He was now managing both of these things, because we were dual-headed at that point. Once we got into Metallic, I had one of our junior-level admins, at that point, take this project on. He moved 80% of our servers into the cloud and basically checks an email once or twice a week, looking at the backups for about 20 minutes a day.

The labor has gone down exponentially. It is insane. We are talking about a $100,000 solution that we paid for Rapid Recovery a year, plus the $100,000 a year salary for having one of my guys managing it every day. Whereas, we are paying Metallic an X amount of dollars right now and spend about five or 10 minutes every other day just to verify that the backups are good. We don't have to fix anything.

We are basically getting rid of hardware that we were paying for Rapid Recovery. We are actually leveraging some of Rapid Recovery's hardware for MABS, so we cut down on MABS and Rapid Recovery. Now, the hardware that we would need to renew warranties and get support for is no longer necessary.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I used the free trial to test it. That was our proof of concept. I had the servers up and running by the middle of the day. I think I started it some time around breakfast. It took a couple of hours. It was really simple.

Hands down, Metallic provides us with more predictable costs for our backup requirements. You are getting what you pay for. If they are charging you X amount of dollars at that point, that is what you are going to pay. So far, I have not seen any hidden costs or any kind of gotchas. It is pretty cut-and-dry. They will let you know, "Hey, you are going to use our storage and it will cost you this much. You are going to use your storage, then we are going to charge you this much to backup." What they told us they were going to charge us is exactly what they are charging us now for the next two and a half years.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated NEC, which is another big solution out there, like Nike or Converse. NEC has their own data centers. The government uses them. They are big and their solution is robust. We tested it, and it worked well too. However, the bottom line was a huge sticker price shock. We went with Metallic because of cost. 

Since I have been in this NDOT environment for eight years, we have used Commvault, Rapid Recovery, MABS, and now we are back to Commvault Metallic. Of those four products, with Commvault being the first and now the last, those have been the two more stable products. The first one that we used was Commvault on-premises, with MediaAgent and physical servers on-prem, which was extremely stable. Then, we went to Rapid Recovery and that wasn't stable. Neither was MABS. Now, we are back to Metallic and it is stable again. Most solutions I have used from Metallic, from the on-prem now to the cloud, have been extremely stable when it comes to backup.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely take advantage of the support team in your initial rollout because Commvault is not a follow the bouncy ball type of solution. It is definitely granular, configurable, and scalable. With the initial deployment, it is important to get that right because everything is going to start working off of that initial deployment. It is a good idea to take advantage of their support tier in that initial deployment and not try to set it up 100% on your own. I did, and It worked. However, once we got a hold of the engineers for the production rollout, they started answering some of my questions. If I would have known the answers that they gave me back when I rolled it out, the rollout would have been much easier and not as hard as it was. It could have been even better. 

Get a little knowledge from these guys. Have them help you roll it out. It takes half an hour. That is all it took us. We had the engineer on the phone for half an hour. He had us setup and backups going, with the vision that Metallic was built for, not the vision that I had thought it was for. My biggest recommendation is to take advantage of their support during the initial deployment. From there, you can be as creative as you want. It is always good to get that help in the beginning.

There have been discussions about doing the solution’s Endpoint Backup & Recovery. It really just comes down to the fact that we would need more push from the business. Right now, the business understands that most of their data is stored in the cloud as-is. So, backing up into a computer is not necessary, as the data that they are putting on that computer is in the cloud. I don't see us using it any time soon.

Right now, Metallic is used a lot. For the most part, it is now the entire backup of our 400-plus servers. It will be used even more with the 365 implementation, Active Directory backup implementation, and disaster recovery. One of the good things about going to Metallic in this cloud solution, where all of my servers now live in the cloud, is I have a DR solution now, as opposed to having to move it down to another place or building in Las Vegas. Now that we are central with our backups to the cloud, we can focus on a DR solution. It definitely is very important to our infrastructure. As a server team, backups are number one. Metallic has now become one of our fallbacks on solutions for all kinds of stuff.

Spend it if you got it. The biggest lesson that I learned from using Metallic is sometimes going with cheaper isn't always better. That is why we left Commvault. While Metallic might be a little more expensive than Quest or MABS, with that extra dollar you are paying, you are going to get your money's worth.

I would rate them as 10 out of 10. I can't really complain. Right now, they look like a knight in shining armor. What do you normally do with a knight in shining armor? You put a medal on him.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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RJ
Storage Administrator at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Cut our backup management time significantly, and near-instant recovery reduces our downtime

Pros and Cons

  • "We do like the instant recovery... Now, we say, "Okay, give me 15 seconds and I can get this back up for you." And within that 15 seconds it's on and the only thing that we have to do afterwards is vMotion it off of the Rubrik storage back to where it should rest."
  • "The interface is still slightly clunky and has room for improvement. They do work with us whenever we mention anything that needs to be done or anything that we want. We find that bringing up the management interface is a little slow and not as intuitive as we would like, but it's been getting better as it evolves."

What is our primary use case?

We came from two different systems. We had one product that was for our campus side and a different product for the hospital side. We wanted to bring those together and not have too many products in one environment. Rubrik covers everything in our VMware, for both campus and hospital. It does all of our backups. Anything that gets backed up for either side now goes through it.

We were siloed out into many different teams on both sides and we had a backup team on campus and a backup team on the hospital side. When those were brought together, the backup teams were dissolved and they were put into the VMware side where they're now managing hardware and server hardware refreshes.

My team is now the storage and backup team and we've taken on that task. Backups are offered as part of pretty much any ticket requesting a new server, for campus or hospital, that is a request for a new server. We spin up the backup at the server creation.

Our Rubrik is all on-prem. We back up our VMware environment and we also do a few physicals. We do some SQL and we do some Oracle.

How has it helped my organization?

It depends on what we're recovering, but some recoveries, before Rubrik, would take 30 minutes-plus. Now, similar recoveries that we've done have taken only seconds.

Also, when we first put this into place, we were actually moving to a hybrid cloud approach as well. We were trying to offer server creation as a simple ticket. We were doing this through offering the products, the catalog, and the automation behind everything to spin up the servers and deal out the storage. The two products that we actually have in our environment weren't very friendly with that automation piece but Rubrik, with its SLA policies, makes it very easy for us to say, "Hey, if this is a tier-zero application, we want this SLA applied globally," although there aren't very many of those in our environment. And if it's a tier-one application we can say, "Oh, we want this SLA applied." It does a very good job of keeping things clean in our environment. We also went through making sure we have everything tagged in VMware so that Rubrik can just pull that tag and apply that SLA. So things work pretty smoothly with all of that together.

We use the archival functionality. We tend to keep things on a Brik for a certain amount of time and, of course, it's a larger amount of time for tier-zero applications. And then we archive off to a private cloud that we have here at the university. That definitely keeps costs down because we have a deep and cheap storage solution for that cloud, Hitachi Content Platform. That was one of the main reasons that we went with Rubrik, as well, as it is compatible with HCP. We have quite a few petabytes of that and we wanted to make sure that we could leverage that and use it to our advantage.

Another benefit has been that management time has gone down significantly. Before, we had those two teams, one team for NetBackup and one team for Commvault. Each of those teams had two people on them. Now, we have one person on the storage team who is dedicated pretty much to backups, and the rest of us jump in as needed. We've really been able to consolidate that effort, and since it's an easy to use interface, we were able to pick up and run with that as a storage team. But with NetBackup before, we did have to build out quite a few servers and other stuff to get it into HCP. The whole model behind that, having lots of media servers, was very costly when you add in all of the hardware costs, licensing, et cetera. With this, it's quite a bit cheaper.

And Rubrik has definitely reduced downtime, because if we can spin up a recovery faster to that local CPU and the storage of Rubrik and have it up instantly, we can definitely get back to work sooner.

What is most valuable?

We do like the instant recovery because, beforehand, we would tell people, "Hey, it's going to take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to spin this up and, in that time, we're going to need your help with certain questions." We would sit there and work with them, but it always took quite a while. Now, we say, "Okay, give me 15 seconds and I can get this back up for you." And within that 15 seconds it's on and the only thing that we have to do afterwards is vMotion it off of the Rubrik storage back to where it should rest.

We also like the web interface. We mainly log in to the node and work from that, but occasionally we will log in and look at things when offsite. It's very intuitive and it works really well.

In addition, the solution's APIs play in with our automation piece for hybrid cloud. We wanted everything to work without manual interaction. We wanted everything to just play through when a ticket is submitted and automatically spin up the backup that we wanted, based on the tag in the VMware object. Our VMware team was the one that mainly looked at those APIs and built all of that out, but they haven't had any issues with it. It's worked exactly as designed.

What needs improvement?

The interface is still slightly clunky and has room for improvement. They do work with us whenever we mention anything that needs to be done or anything that we want. We find that bringing up the management interface is a little slow and not as intuitive as we would like, but it's been getting better as it evolves.

Rubrik is a somewhat new company, so it needs to become a little more established, and that just comes with time. It's not really too much of a concern or a weakness. It's just something that hasn't happened yet.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Rubrik for about a year and a half to two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good. We don't run into a ton of issues on it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is wonderful. That is one of our biggest advantages with this. We can scale out as big or as small as we need to. We went with 20 nodes or so at the start and we've got over 40 now. We continue to expand as needed. We're still not all the way done with rolling this out to replace everything, but every year we're getting more and more nodes in there and replacing more and more.

We've covered about 85 percent of our environment. With the other 15 percent, it wasn't that Rubrik couldn't handle it, it's that the budget only allows for so many nodes to be purchased at a time. On top of that, we need to make sure that we do it in a way that's non-disruptive for work, and there are some teams that would be affected by disruption. We need to go a little bit at a time, which is what we've done. 

For the future, I do see us using it more. We have been doing a soft launch on Oracle, because we needed the tool that Rubrik has that allows for integration. That was still in something of an early stage of development, and we weren't comfortable putting it into production until it was in a more developed state. So we have used Rubrik to back up Oracle, but we've gone about using less of the automation pieces that Rubrik offers, and we're using it more as just a landing spot until that is fully developed. That's about the only piece that we're going to use more in the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

When we have run into issues, we've reached out to our support team at Rubrik and they've been very quick to respond. Whether they're in the office or not, they do take our calls and help us out. It's always a quick response.

They're a newer company, so I'm sure they're still establishing their place, but the escalation teams and everybody that we've worked with have been capable and they've been able to fix our problems without having to bring in too many people.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had Commvault and NetBackup before. Both of those were based on costly consumption-based licenses, and our CIO really disliked that model. The licenses that we had had been increasing in cost year after year and it just wasn't feasible to keep two separate products that weren't a good fit for the automation piece, for hybrid cloud. And they were on a slightly more pricey model. So rather than going to one or the other, we went out to see if there was anything that made more sense at the time. And that's when we found Rubrik.

With Rubrik, we have an agreement where it isn't license-based, and we are able to add more Briks as needed and more clusters as needed. It makes it extremely easy to expand our backup environment as the need arises.

With the other models out there, you would buy one quota and then you would hit it and prices would change and other things would happen. They have you locked in, no matter what. It was basically a situation where you had to pay whatever price they said you had to pay. With Rubrik, it's been very nice to have all of the equipment in our own data center and to have a little bit more control. For example, if we think we're going to need this much next year, this is what the hardware cost is going to be, and we can pay for any additional capacity that we need. That's been really nice with Rubrik.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up Rubrik was both a little bit straightforward and a little bit of complex. We had the team that sold us the product there with us during setup and we went to add in all of the nodes at the same time. That was something that even that team had thought we could do, and then they remembered, in the middle of adding all the nodes at the same time, that we needed to do it in groups. That does take time. We were putting in something like 16 or 20 nodes, and we had to do it four-at-a-time. We had already done the physical installation and all the cabling, and all that portion. But when we started to add in the nodes, we had to do four and then wait for it to finish on that, and then do another four and wait for it to finish on that.

I think that, with time, they may implement a system that cues them up and continues to add nodes as it can. But that seems to be a similar problem to what occurs with other products in the same category. We also have Cohesity in our environment, which we don't use as a backup product, we use it strictly as a NAS, and it suffers from that same issue.

Our Rubrik setup took a few days, between our getting network issues figured out on our side, getting all of the cable management figured out with our data center team, the physical installs, the configuration with the Rubrik partners, and then adding in those nodes four-at-a-time until we had them all in.

We could have done it with less staff but we did want to make sure that all of us were aware of how the implementation worked, so we brought in all five of our team, two Rubrik partners, and two of our reseller partners, as well.

For maintenance of Rubrik we require two to three people. One works on Rubrik pretty much all the time, and the other four of us just jump in as needed on little things here and there.

In terms of Rubrik users, in addition to the five of us who do administration, we've given out access to a few of our database groups, so far, where there are 10 to 15 people.

What about the implementation team?

Our reseller was ASG at that time, now it's Sirius. Everything was fine with them. On the Rubrik side, we had an engineer and a sales engineer, and that worked really well.

What was our ROI?

With Rubrik, we have been able to allocate FTEs to the other areas. We could have eliminated them but we chose to reallocate them. As we've had people either retire or move on to something different, we've either not replaced some, or we've been able to replace some of them with lower-level staff, simply because of the ease of use of this product.

On the hospital side, the ROI is from the lower cost, less work to manage it, and the smaller footprint in the data center, which means less power and cooling.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing and licensing of Rubrik is better than products that we've had in the past. It was quite a bit cheaper than Commvault and NetBackup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We actually reached out with our VAR and we evaluated anybody that could use the HCP that we have for archive storage. There weren't too many on the market that could do that. Rubrik was really the only solid option that we had at the time, other than Commvault and NetBackup. We weren't too happy with the latter two because of how much they were costing at that time.

What other advice do I have?

We did physical PoCs in our environment and we did have Cohesity and Rubrik side-by-side, as well as NetBackup and Commvault. We did PoCs for moving to public cloud as well, for some of these services. The PoC with Rubrik stood out. 

Make sure that you work with your support team that's going to support you after your purchase and make sure that you're able to work with them well, before you pull the trigger on it. We like to build partnerships. When we have those partnerships, we're able to really rely on them for a long time.

I am a fairly new entry into the backup field. Before, we had Commvault and NetBackup, and when they were showing us how to use those, and trying to teach us some of the terms in the backup world, it felt like backup was a very niche piece of IT, and that there was a lingo and a language behind it. It seemed that there were definite things that people had experienced before that were common among all backup products, and things that they were left wanting or hating. With this new product, Rubrik, we walked into it blind, not being backup admins, and it made a lot of sense to us. And when we did bring in a backup admin, they said it was quite different to anything that they had worked on previously, and that it made more sense and that it was just quite a bit easier to manage.

Rubrik is something that everybody can understand fairly easily, and when we have given others access to it, such as the database teams, and we've let them run with it and see what they can do, they've been able to implement it really well. They've been able to figure out how to implement the tool in exactly the way that they wanted, whereas before there may have been limitations.

We haven't used the ransomware recovery at this point. We've got some protection behind that, where they are locked down and require additional effort to delete and to change. We follow guidelines from our IT security team and Rubrik together. We just haven't seen a scenario yet where we've actually needed to use that.

We have used Rubrik's predictive search, although we don't use it too much right now. Mainly, the way that we've used it so far has been the traditional backup and restore, where we get tickets stating that a backup needs to be spun up and it's done automatically. Then, when somebody comes back later on and says, "Hey, we need this item restored," we're able to call them up and restore it with them on the phone, within a matter of minutes. We haven't really had to use the file search too much or a lot of the tools that they have available for us, just because the need hasn't been there yet.

When it comes to recovery, we usually spin it up and turn it over to the team that asked us to recover that data. The information and identity access management team had to spin one up recently. They said that they had a bad patch and wanted us to spin back to that morning. We did that, and it had lost some of the network settings and some of that stuff that they were used to getting. We spent about 15 to 30 minutes with them and everything was back exactly the way that it should be. But that was pretty much exactly the same with other products that we had so it wasn't something new for us.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Chris Slaby
Network Administrator at a educational organization with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Restores files much quicker and offers continuous data protection

Pros and Cons

  • "In terms of the most valuable features, having the failover tests where you can see where your actual RTO and RPO would be is really nice, especially for the management level. I really liked the ease of when I need to do a file or folder restore off the cuff. Usually, it takes me less than five minutes to do it, including the mounting of the actual image. That was one thing with Unitrends, it was a similar process but if that backup had aged off of the system, then you had to go to the archive and you find the right disks, load them in, and then actually mount the image."
  • "In terms of improvement, it would be helpful if the implementation team had a better best practices guide and made sure things like the journaling are very clearly understood."

What is our primary use case?

Right now, everything is on-prem including LTR. We are looking at adding the Azure features but we're not quite there yet.

We purchased Zerto to replace our Legacy backup system that still had disks, Archiver Appliance, and everything like that. We had wanted to do something that was diskless but still gave us multiple copies. So we were utilizing both the instantaneous backup and recovery, as well as the LTR, Long Term Retention, function. We do our short-term backup with normal journaling and then our longer-term retention with the LTR appliance, which is going to dedicated hardware in one of our data centers.

We use Zerto for both backup and disaster recovery. It was fairly important that Zerto offers both of these features because Unitrends did provide the traditional backup piece. They also had another product called ReliableDR, which they later rolled into a different product. Unitrends actually bought the company. That piece provided the same functionality as what Zerto is doing now, but with Unitrends that was separate licensing and a different management interface. It wasn't nice to have to bounce between the two systems. The ability to do it all from a single pane of glass that is web-based is nice.

It's definitely not going to save us money. It'll be a peace of mind thing, that we have another copy of our data somewhere. Our DR site is approximately 22 miles away. The likelihood of a tornado or something devastating two communities where our facilities are based is pretty slim. It's peace of mind and it does not require additional storage space on-prem. We know that the charges for data at rest are not free in Azure. We get good pricing discounts being in education but it definitely won't save money.

How has it helped my organization?

Zerto was fairly comparable to what Unitrends was offering with multiple products. We didn't gain a ton of extra features. If anything, in the very near future, it will give us the ability for Cloud backup and retention to have some of that sitting out in the Cloud as an offsite backup. We have a primary site, a backup site, and a recovery site. We have multiple copies already, but we want to have one that's not on any of our physical facilities so we will be setting that up shortly. We just need to get our subscriptions and everything coordinated and up to par. That would be the main improvement that it's going to provide us. But we're not quite there yet.

Zerto has reduced downtime. Speaking specifically to the file restores, it's definitely restored things much quicker. Instead of waiting for half-hour to get a file restore done, it's a matter of five minutes or less to do it where they can keep rolling much quicker versus with Unitrends. Other than that, I can't say there are any huge differences.

The difference in downtime would cost my organization very little. We're a small technical college, so we're not loopy on making or losing thousands or millions of dollars if something takes five minutes versus an hour and a half. Higher ed is a different breed of its own. 

What is most valuable?

In terms of the most valuable features, having the failover tests where you can see where your actual RTO and RPO would be is really nice, especially for the management level. I really liked the ease of when I need to do a file or folder restore off the cuff. Usually, it takes me less than five minutes to do it, including the mounting of the actual image. That was one thing with Unitrends, it was a similar process but if that backup had aged off of the system, then you had to go to the archive and you find the right disks, load them in, and then actually mount the image. Our main data stores are close to two terabytes. It would take 15 to 20 minutes just to mount the image. Whereas with Zerto, I don't think it's taken longer than a minute or a minute and a half to mount any image that we've needed to go back to a restore point on.

With Unitrends, some could have taken a half-hour. I'm the only network administrator here, so it usually was a multitasking event where we would wait for it to load. I would take care of a few other things and then come back to it.

Switching to Zerto decreased the time it took but did not decrease the number of people involved. It still requires myself and our network engineer to do any failover, back and forth, because of our networking configuration and everything. I know that Zerto allows us to RE-IP machines as we failover. However, because of the way our public DNS works and some of our firewall rules, we have purposely chosen not to do that in an automated fashion. That would still be a manual operation. It would still involve a couple of people from IT.

Zerto does a pretty decent job at providing continuous data protection. The most important thing that I didn't clearly understand upfront, was the concept of journaling and how that differs from traditional backup. For example, if you set journal retention for seven days or whatever, in your traditional backup, it kept that for seven days, regardless of what was happening. You had it versus the journaling, where coupled with some of the size limits and stuff of the journal size, if you don't configure it correctly, you could actually have less data backed up than what you think you do. I also found out that if you have an event such as ransomware, that all of a sudden throws a lot of IOPS at it, and a lot of change rate, that can age out a journal very quickly and then leave you with the inability to restore if that's not set up properly.

We have requirements to keep student data and information for seven years. We need long-term retention for those purposes. We don't typically need to go back further than 30 days for file restores and everything. There has been the occasion where six months later, we need to restore a file because we had somebody leaving the organization or something like that and that folder or whatever wasn't copied over at the time they left.

Zerto has not saved us time in a data recovery situation due to ransomware because we did not have it correctly configured. When we had an event like that, we weren't able to successfully restore from a backup. That has been corrected now. Now that it is configured correctly, I anticipate that it will save us weeks of time. It took almost two weeks to get to a somewhat normal state after our event. We're still recovering somewhat from rebuilding some servers and stuff like that. To get our primary data and programs back up and running to a mostly normal function, took around two weeks.

We also expect that it will reduce the number of staff involved in that type of data recovery situation. We ended up having to hire one of our trusted partners to come in and help us rebuild and remediate. There was at least a dozen staff including our own IT staff, which was another 10 people on top of that. Provided that we do now have this set correctly, it would really drop it down to maybe two or three people.

What needs improvement?

In terms of improvement, it would be helpful if the implementation team had a better best practices guide and made sure things like the journaling are very clearly understood. 

Speaking directly to our incident, we did have professional services guide us with the installation, setup, and configuration. At that time, there was no suggestion to have these appliances not joined to the domain or in a separate VLAN from our normal servers and everything. They are in a completely isolated network. The big thing was being domain-joined. They didn't necessarily give that guidance. In our particular situation, with our incident, had those not been domain-joined, we would have been in a much better place than what we ended up being.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Zerto for about two years

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is quite stable. I haven't had system issues with it. The VRAs run, they do their thing. The VPGs run, so as long as we're not experiencing network interruptions between our two campuses, the tasks run as they should. In the event we do have an interruption, they seem to recover fairly quickly catching up on the journaling and stuff like that. It's fairly stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is pretty good. We have 50 seats, so we will just be starting to bump up against that very shortly. My impression is that all we need to do is purchase more licenses as needed, and we're good to expand as long as our infrastructure internal can absorb it.

I just recently learned from Zerto Con that they are coming out or have just come out with a Zerto for SaaS applications, which gives the ability to back up Office 365 tenants or Salesforce tenants. I am very interested in learning about that. We have been researching and budgeting for standalone products for Office 365 and Salesforce backups. From my understanding, those products would be backed up from the cloud to the cloud so that it wouldn't have impacts on our internal, long-term appliance, or any of our storage internal infrastructure. That's very appealing. 

It will depend on costs. If it's something that I can't absorb with the funding I have already secured for Office 365, then it would have to be added to our next year's budget because we run from July 1st to June 30th. Our capital timeline budgeting has surpassed us already.

How are customer service and technical support?

For the most part, the technical support is pretty decent. I've only had to open one or two tickets and the response time has been pretty good. Our questions were answered.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used Unitrends. We switched solutions because we were at the end of our lifecycle with the appliances we had. At that time, Unitrends was not quite as mature with the diskless and cloud-type technologies as Zerto was. We were pursuing diskless where we had to rotate out hard drives for archiving. We wanted to get rid of that. That brought us to Zerto and it was recommended by one of our vendors to take a look at it.

Unitrends had replaced Commvault. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly straightforward, deploying the VRAs to the VMware infrastructure and stuff like that was point, click, and let it run it. It was fairly quick. The VRAs took a couple of minutes each, so that wasn't bad at all. Setting up the VPGs is quite simple. There is a little bit of confusion where you can set your default for the journaling and stuff like that and then modify individual VMs after the fact. If you want different journal sizes for different VMs in the same VPG, there are a couple of different spots you can tweak. The setup and requirements of the LTR were a little bit confusing.

We purchased six or eight hours of implementation time but that was over multiple calls. We stood up some of the infrastructures, got some VPGs together, and then they left it to me to set up some other VPGs. Then we did a touch base to see what questions I had and things like that. We had six or eight hours purchased but it was spread over multiple engagements.

For the most part, only I worked on the deployment. Our network engineer was involved briefly just to verify connectivity via the VLANs and firewalls. Once we had established a connection, he was pretty much out of it.

I'm the only one who uses it strictly for our district backups. We're a small college. Our IT programs, HR, or business services, don't have their own separate entities. It's all covered under the primary IT department.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't know that we've saved a ton by replacing our legacy solution with Zerto. I think there's a little less overhead with it. Setting up the VPGs, the protection groups, and everything is a little bit easier and the file restores go much quicker. Fortunately, we haven't had to perform full system restores, but I did not need to do that with Unitrends either. It's usually a folder or a file here and there. We're not really intense on restoring. It has saved a little on management, but not a ton. 

Pricing wasn't horrible. I can't say that it was super competitive. We definitely could have gone with a cheaper price solution but the ease of use and management was really what won me over. Being the only network administrator, I don't have a ton of time to read through 500-page user manuals to get these things set up on a daily basis. I needed something that was very easy to implement and use on a daily basis. In the event I'm out of the office, it would be nice to have simple documentation so that if somebody needs a file restore while I'm gone, it can be handed off to somebody who is not a network admin as their primary job.

I have not run into any additional costs. Obviously, if you're going to utilize Azure for long-term retention it is an additional cost, but that's coming from Microsoft, not Zerto. To my knowledge, there is no additional licensing needed for that, that's all included in the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Commvault was another solution we looked at even though it was against my better judgment. We looked at Veeam and Rubrik as well.

In terms of ease of use, Veeam was pretty similar but at the time we still had some physical servers that we no longer have now. We are all virtual now. Veeam couldn't accommodate that, as I understood. I liked the features of Zerto and the ability to get the RTO and RPO reports and see where we're at. The ease of file restores was really nice.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to make sure that you clearly understand what you require. You must have retention and recoverability. Make sure that your journal configurations correspond to accommodate that in an event like ransomware or something like that, that a high change rate can happen. Also, utilize long-term retention for instances like that. 

I appreciate the continuing education that they provide. There is Zerto Con and they have different customer support webinars. They do the new product release webinars and stuff like that, where they're very open on what features they're adding, what they've released, and what improvements they're doing. Whereas it seems like most companies, say, "Okay, we have an update available. Here are the release notes." And, it's up to you to go through that.

I like that Zerto takes the time to sometimes do live demos. We're migrating from 8.0 to 8.5. We're going to do it in a live environment and show approximately how long it takes and all the steps to go through it. Make sure you check this box if you're upgrading from this. I find that very helpful. I'm a visual learner, versus learning from reading. Seeing some of those step-by-step upgrades, releases, and feature demonstrations is very helpful.

I would rate Zerto an eight out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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MA
Technical Presales Consultant/ Engineer at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Flexible and stable with good technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "If you have windows machine at home and you'd like a backup, you can always download their free edition and plug in an external hard disk, and do a full backup of your laptop."
  • "Some customers have Oracle databases and Veeam does support back up of Oracle databases."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is an agent. It can be used to back up almost from Windows Servers 2008 up to Service Pack 1, up until 2019. It integrates with Veeam Backup & Replication, which can enable you to restore to the cloud or back up a cloud workload as well.

It clearly used to do image-based backups. The main reason Veeam came up with the Agent was that they were mainly focusing on virtual environments before and that was a major challenge for their existing customers. Not everyone is going with a fully virtual environment. Virtualization has many advantages, however, the virtual architecture design will remain physical if an organization's architecture is probably architected.

We had the challenge that Veeam has many VMware customers who have a Microsoft kind of infrastructure set up on VMware. They were basically using shared virtual disks and part of the limitation was that VMware was conducting snapshot full backups.

They created the Agent for these two use cases, to back up VMs that VMware cannot conduct a snapshot for, Windows VMs, and to back up physical servers that any customer would like to do so. At the end of the day, the main is that Veeam is paired with VMware.

We get more customers that want to back up and change it themselves. Veeam created this agent as a VMware-based backup of Windows operating systems.

What is most valuable?

The solution is very stable.

They have already invested a lot of R&D and mainly they're supported on most of the Windows scenarios, even the custom-tailored parts. 

The solution allows for full integration. I can deploy the Agent from the backup server and manage the backups all from the backup server. Or I can use the Agent as a stand-alone and discard the backup server. In terms of restoration, I can restore the entire machine, specific file systems, application actors, et cetera.

Restoring to the cloud is pretty flexible.

Technical support is quite good.

The initial setup has improved quite a bit from version 4 to 5. You don't need to worry about downtime.

If you have windows machine at home and you'd like a backup, you can always download their free edition and plug in an external hard disk, and do a full backup of your laptop.

They just released Version 5 for Version 11 and they released some amazing features with it, such as the backup and restore snapshots features. Before the agent was only able to back up through the network. Now it's even able to back up through the SAN fabric, depending on the customer environment.

What needs improvement?

I can't think of an area where the solution is lacking in features. Overall, it's quite good, and more money is going into R&D already.

That said, there are many things they can develop for the Linux agent. The Windows agent is quite complete.

Some customers have Oracle databases and Veeam does support back up of Oracle databases. There is a specific setup in Oracle when you have the Oracle databases configured with the ASM - something related to Oracle storage back up. Veeam cannot back up or restore ASM disks as of right now. It could be something they could offer in the future.

Some customers that are in the industrial sector are using legacy systems, systems that are very old and running on Windows 2000 or Windows NT, Windows 2003, and they're physical, they're not even virtual. Veeam here is pretty weak, as Veeam supports 2008 or Service Pack 1 and above. Anything before that, the Veeam Agent for Windows will not be able to back up anything.

I don't expect Veeam to be releasing agents for older editions of operating systems. Veeam itself is a new company. On the other hand, if you go to the competition, like Veritas, you'll see that Veritas is a well-established company in the market since way back and therefore they have these agents that can back up the older versions of Windows.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution ever since its first release, since Version 1. That has been since around 2015 or 2016 or so. It's been a few years at this point. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm not sure about the scalability. With the agent, it should be pretty simple. You install it on each and every single server and then you back up. You can deploy it also with servers, however, the Agent will be in use on each and every single operating system which you want to back up. It can be also used for the PC environment, laptops, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

It's hard to count the number of users our clients have. There are many.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is amazing. They're quick to respond and accurate in terms of the support that's provided. You really don't worry about getting stuck in limbo. Regarding the Veeam Agent for Windows team, they're amazing. They are responsive. You don't have to wait a long time for a reply. They are very good.

How was the initial setup?

The difficulty of each deployment depends on which version. They have improved the latest version, however, before, on Version 4, while the installation was straightforward, the problem was that it had a prerequisite requirement, which is the development framework on 4.7.2. This framework is not usually installed on all Windows operating systems. The problem is that it is free, and you can download it at any time and install it, however, it will require the service to be restarted and that means planned downtime.

Fortunately, they fixed that with Version 5. They changed the framework dependency to 4.5.2. so that there is no more forced downtime. 

The time it takes to deploy relies on various factors, however, assuming the prerequisites are all ready, it takes about 15 minutes.

What about the implementation team?

I can handle the installation myself with support from a field-certified architect so there is no downtime.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Veeam did a major revamp in their licensing schema over the past three years. A lot of changes have happened within a very short timeframe. They almost then seemed irrational at first. However, now, somehow they figured how to have a great licensing model. It's called the Veeam Universal License.

This Veeam Universal License is meant to be a portable license. Before what used to be the problem is some customers would buy Veeam for VMware in five minutes, but now they've moved to a Nutanix and their license will no longer be valid. Veeam created this license so that you can use this license for the Agent for Windows, or, if you would like for the Agent to be for Linux, or if you would like it for VMware, or the Hyper-V or Nutanix, you can use it there.

Whatever Veeam features in Veeam Availability Suite, which encompasses Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam Agents for Windows, Linux, and even Unix and Solaris, if you need to buy plug-ins or you're going to need an environment for SAP HANA, they have the support for SAP on Oracle and their backups. All of that's under the Veeam Universal License. They have unified it on a licensing model which works everywhere. So that makes it a lot simpler.

The only problem is that the license comes in bundles. It's not sold individually; it comes in bundles of 10 instances. Each instance is enough for a physical server.

The pricing is moderate. The solution falls in the middle of a few different options. It's not the cheapest, however, it's not the most expensive either. Comparing it with Veritas or Commvault or Rubik or Cohesity, for example, Veeam will definitely be a lot cheaper, as it's a software that has a very straightforward licensing model. However, solutions like Acronis will always be cheaper.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I've compared the solution with various products in terms of pricing. From my experience, to compare Veeam for example, to a Commvault or Veritas, Veeam is much cheaper. However, if you compare Veeam with Acronis or these small-time vendors, Veeam is very expensive.

What other advice do I have?

We are a distributor, not a reseller.

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It's a great product. The only drawback is the support for the ASM disks and the support for legacy Windows operating systems.

I'd recommend the solution to other companies. It's a straightforward solution. I am mostly a Linux guy, therefore, we're not as focused on Windows. In general, it's worked like a charm. It's helped me do backups and restores and it has never failed me in that perspective, except for the ASM disk issues.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Distributor
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MT
Data Protection Specialist at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Great stability, reliability, and scalability, but very difficult to manage and get support

Pros and Cons

  • "The backup of Sybase databases is the most valuable feature in the existing environment. They have got the most documentation out there on the internet for its software protection. The documentation is excellent, and there are a lot of blogs, websites. Because it's still one of the oldest products out there for data protection, there are also lots of people who have a lot of experience in using this solution."
  • "It is not easy to manage like other products in the market. It is okay only if you are command-line driven. Even though the operation center is there, it doesn't provide a single view of everything. You have to, for example, use TSMManager on top of it, which gives you a far better management capability, but it is a third-party product. Its management needs to be improved. There should be an HTML or graphical interface. It is a very difficult product. For example, you have a backup policy where you want a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly policy standard. It is an old kind of system where you have to keep retention for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly backups, which is very difficult in IBM Spectrum Protect. In other products, in a matter of five minutes, you can configure such a policy. In TSM, it takes you one, two, or three days because you need to configure a node for each of them. If you have 250 nodes, you have to configure each node for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly retention. If you have 1,000 nodes, it is going to take you ages just to configure and register the nodes. You need to configure the schedule and the CAD daemons or services, depending on whether it is a Unix or Windows OS. Unfortunately, it is a very long and drawn-out process. You have to stop and start the services for changes to take effect. This is a very difficult part of TSM in IBM Spectrum Protect. To configure a backup policy, I should be able to select the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly options in one screen and finish it. After that, everything should happen in the background. All the backup products in the market already do that, and they are very simple to manage. This particular part of this solution has really been a major pain area for us, and unfortunately, we could not find a workaround. There is nobody at IBM who can give us a way to configure all this easily through a GUI or even scripts."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for normal file system backups, database backups for Microsoft SQL, and VM image backups. We also use it for the backup of the Sybase database, which is an important backup for us. Sybase is the database for the SAP ERP systems. These are business-critical systems.

IBM doesn't provide its own data protection agent for Sybase. Therefore, we are taking Sybase backups by using the built-in API from SAP. We utilize Sybase ASE, which contains the API and allows us to connect with the TSM of IBM Spectrum Protect. We are currently on an older version, but we are going to upgrade to 8.1.9 very soon.

What is most valuable?

The backup of Sybase databases is the most valuable feature in the existing environment.

They have got the most documentation out there on the internet for its software protection. The documentation is excellent, and there are a lot of blogs, websites. Because it's still one of the oldest products out there for data protection, there are also lots of people who have a lot of experience in using this solution.

What needs improvement?

It is not easy to manage like other products in the market. It is okay only if you are command-line driven. Even though the operation center is there, it doesn't provide a single view of everything. You have to, for example, use TSMManager on top of it, which gives you a far better management capability, but it is a third-party product. Its management needs to be improved. There should be an HTML or graphical interface. 

It is a very difficult product. For example, you have a backup policy where you want a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly policy standard. It is an old kind of system where you have to keep retention for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly backups, which is very difficult in IBM Spectrum Protect. In other products, in a matter of five minutes, you can configure such a policy. In TSM, it takes you one, two, or three days because you need to configure a node for each of them. If you have 250 nodes, you have to configure each node for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly retention. If you have 1,000 nodes, it is going to take you ages just to configure and register the nodes. You need to configure the schedule and the CAD daemons or services, depending on whether it is a Unix or Windows OS. Unfortunately, it is a very long and drawn-out process. You have to stop and start the services for changes to take effect. This is a very difficult part of TSM in IBM Spectrum Protect.

To configure a backup policy, I should be able to select the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly options in one screen and finish it. After that, everything should happen in the background. All the backup products in the market already do that, and they are very simple to manage. This particular part of this solution has really been a major pain area for us, and unfortunately, we could not find a workaround. There is nobody at IBM who can give us a way to configure all this easily through a GUI or even scripts.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for the last 12 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. Stability-wise, IBM Spectrum Protect is among the best. It doesn't crash like Data Domain. It is not unsteady, and it doesn't become unstable. Once it is configured correctly on the right hardware, it will run pretty well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is definitely scalable. We are a service provider for another company, which has about 2,000 to 3,000 users. 

For its deployment and maintenance, we have 18 team members. We have 24/7 support. We have a couple of L3s, and the rest of them are L1s and L2s. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support staff is not the best. They are among the lowest in the whole market. They never want to come for a WebEx meeting and always ask for logs. When the logs don't reveal anything, they ask for traces, which is a big hassle again because you have to do many things. After you upload the traces, they are not able to find anything. The case goes on for weeks. From weeks, it goes to months, and sometimes, you have to escalate to just get something simple fixed. 

IBM support is very difficult. They have improved everything. The documentation is excellent, but when it comes to the support, they just don't want to get into a WebEx meeting. They don't want to help you online. Commvault or other companies would just jump into a WebEx meeting, simply look at this stuff, and quickly fix the problem in no time. I don't know why they are resistant to getting on a WebEx meeting. No other backup vendor out there says no to this. It may be because they have a lot of work, and they're busy, or they don't feel that they can solve it quickly enough. It could be because the product is like this, and the support can't support or fix it quickly.

They should be able to quickly get to the root cause, but they take forever to get back to us on certain issues. We can read a lot of literature out there. There are a lot of pros out there, but the problem is that the support guys themselves should be like those guys. Their certain messages are so cryptic that we don't even know what to do. They are hard to understand. I ran into a migration problem the other day, and they were just asking for more logs, which was causing issues in production because the pools were filling up. Technical support has to be really quick these days.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

In the past, I have extensively used Oracle's RMAN backups. I have also used snapshot and FlashCopy Manager a lot for critical systems.

In our own data centers, we had IBM Spectrum Protect, and then we migrated away from them. We are now only supporting those customers who are running this environment. If you look at some of the companies where we are supporting IBM Spectrum Protect, they have been an IBM shop for very long, mostly because their systems are on IBM. Most of their infrastructure is IBM and their software is IBM, so they will naturally go for IBM Spectrum Protect to protect their infrastructure.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

The initial implementation was done by a third-party vendor who was an IBM partner. I don't think it took long. It took a few hours.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have capacity licensing. We use the front end. The capacity licensing is pretty okay on the licensing price. I used to use the old PVU-based licensing in the early environment, but now we use capacity-based licensing.

What other advice do I have?

The IBM shops would use it because it fits very nicely into an IBM environment, but even with the VM capabilities, it is more difficult to configure and support as compared to other solutions in the market. If you look at other solutions, even your IBM ProtecTIER, for example, would be a data protection appliance. I could mix and match technologies, but I think other products are easier to manage. 

There are many third-party products that do it all. TSMManager is really excellent for managing a multi TSM server environment. If you have got 10 or 20 TSM servers, you cannot manage them natively. It is difficult to switch from one to another. You can always connect them and then jump from one to the other. You have that option, but it is easier if you have one UI sitting on top of them all, like a single management layer. IBM does not provide it. I have heard something is coming out in version nine or ten, which is going to change a lot of things, but I am not very sure.

I would rate IBM Spectrum Protect a seven out of ten. There are many good things about it, such as stability, reliability, and scalability, but it is tough in terms of manageability and things like that. Its support is also not good.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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