What is our primary use case?
We use it to back up NetApp shares, servers, and virtual servers. We also use it for Active Directory and databases. We used to use it to back up Exchange servers, but we're moving that to the cloud. It has a lot of features but we mostly use it to back up and recover stuff.
How has it helped my organization?
I can't really say how Commvault has improved the way our organization functions because, while I know there was use another product in use before Commvault, I came here way after the company started using Commvault. I wasn't in this role during the transition. When I've talked about this with the more senior guys, they say Commvault is supposed to be the best product available at this moment.
In general, it gives people confidence knowing that their data, on their servers and home shares on shared drives, is backed up. It gives our end-users confidence.
And the solution has helped us to optimize infrastructure usage. The deduplication in Commvault is great. We have 90-something percent savings using its deduplication technology. It's awesome. I love that aspect.
What is most valuable?
The solution provides us with a single platform to move, manage, and recover our data across on-premise locations. Some of the guys have been using it to move a virtual machine from VMware to the Microsoft solution, Hyper-V. They back it up and then they restore to the different virtual machine provider, and that works great.
What needs improvement?
We have never managed to use it to full potential because we don't have a dedicated team to take care of Commvault, so we barely keep it running. It takes a lot of our time when we have ten other systems to take care of. That's why I'm not the biggest fan of this. Just to keep it running is time-consuming. There are five people on my team. Commvault was supposed to be one of the less time-consuming solutions, but in reality it takes 60 percent of our time just to keep it running, and that's not even fine-tuning it; that's just to keep it running. It's a pain.
It constantly breaks and then we spend three or four days trying to fix the issue, working with support, going back and forth. When we finally resolve something, another issue pops up. Then we spend another three or four days trying to make it work. I'm not saying it's the product's fault. Maybe we didn't implement it correctly in the first place. I don't know, I wasn't here. But it takes a lot of time, and every issue is different so I cannot build experience. With another system, I know if I do this, this, and this then it breaks, and I know that I have to do this, this, and this to fix it. But every time Commvault breaks, it's something different, so it takes us a lot of time to fix it. It is frustrating.
Another thing I find frustrating is that when it fails and it says something like "Error code 19: etc., etc... Click here for more information," when I click I get an error page. Having the error codes documented in the Commvault Knowledge Base would help us a lot.
When I came to the role, they said, "Oh yeah, you're going to be doing this, this, and this, and maybe a little bit of Commvault. In reality, 60 to 70 percent of my day is just tinkering with Commvault.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using Commvault for about two years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's not very stable in our environment. Every day there is something weird going on. When we solve the "weird thing of the week," the next day something different goes on.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The issue of scalability isn't applicable to us because we're not trying to just grow, grow, grow. It's not that we're going to have 200 percent growth next year. Our environment is more or less stable. We have 800 servers. Next year we might have 850, but it's not doubling.
Pretty much everything we back up is done via Commvault, except for desktops or laptops.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their follow-up is great. If they send an email saying, "Hey, can you try this and this," if I'm busy with other stuff, the next day they follow up again and again and they harass me. But it's great because my experience with other companies' support is that you have to chase them instead of them chasing you.
Some of Commvault's people are better than others. That's normal. We're humans after all. I only had one case in which I could not agree with the guy, so I had to request another person. But most of the time they're okay or good. Once in a while, you get this really great person, someone who is really awesome. Overall, the support is good.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
There were a couple of guys from Cohesity trying to get business from us. We met with them, but it never went anywhere. We heard what they had to say and it looked cool, it looked promising, but of course they are much smaller than Commvault. We didn't try Cohesity. They only did a demo for us.
It's not easy for us to make those kinds of changes. If we have a contract with Commvault, we can't just say, "Okay, let's forget about this. Let's bring in somebody new." We are government, so we can't just do that. We need to go through a bid process so it's not as easy as in other companies.
What other advice do I have?
My advice is to have a dedicated team for Commvault, if possible. In our team we are dealing with DNS Exchange, antivirus, Active Directory, and Commvault. I feel I'm not successful enough in Commvault because I am always thinking about multiple things. If you really want to be successful with the product and use it to its full potential, a dedicated team just doing Commvault would be great. In reality it might not be easy to do, but if I had a magic wand, I would have two or three people just doing Commvault.
I think it's a great product that we are under-utilizing. The lesson I have learned from using it is that when I think I'm getting a handle on Commvault, when I think I'm learning it, something else happens that shows me that I know nothing about Commvault. It's a good product, but it's just it takes a lot of effort to support it. Sometimes we just don't have the time. When it works fine, it's awesome.
IT has the regular ComCell Console that looks ugly but is full of functionality. And it has another way to manage it called Command Center that is a nice-looking web interface but I find it doesn't have all the functionality, so I stick to the old interface because I can do everything there. I haven't used Command Center often. I don't find it's the best feature because there are some things that I cannot do in there. I got used to using the ComCell Console and have kept on using it.
The fact that the solution is a single platform hasn't really enabled our organization to accelerate growth or drive innovation. We're government, so we are not driven by growth or innovation. We prefer to have stability and reliability. We're not a company that is trying to quickly sell something. We don't care about that. We're not trying to grow; it's actually the opposite: The less impact that government has, the better.
In terms of the solution's breadth and depth of cloud support, we're not using cloud yet. In government, we don't want to have the latest and greatest and the shiniest thing. We have to be very careful. In a private company, somebody just says, "Okay, let's go cloud," and that's it. Next day everybody is in the cloud. But we have to be accountable to taxpayers and we usually have to justify the expense. Decisions are not made that fast, so we are not in the cloud yet.
We have not tried or simulated a disaster recovery scenario. It's something we have to test. We tried once and we killed the network and everybody complained, so we had to stop it. We have recovered the files here and there when people say, "Oops, I just deleted this file. Can you recover it?" But a whole disaster recovery is something we have never done, and I hope we never have to.
There are five administrators of it in our organization while a couple of more use it to move VMs from one place to another. There are three more on the SAP team who use it to push backups to us, and three more from the DBAs. We don't back up laptops or desktops. Our end-users don't have access to this, nor do our other IT teams such as the applications programmers. They have to come to us to restore something.
It works fine when it works. It's a good product but it takes a lot of effort to support it. I don't know if it's because we didn't implement it correctly or if it's our infrastructure or the product, but that's my general impression.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?