Dell EMC PowerProtect Data Manager Review

The ratio of deduplication is very high and it has good performance

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this product is for two things. The backup & recovery and deduplication features are most frequently what I use this solution for.  

What is most valuable?

I would say flexibility is the most important feature of the product. With this product, you can get data from most operating systems on the first attempt because NetWorker as a part of PowerProtect is efficient and is maybe the fastest backup software that I know of. The performance of it is very good. The ratio of deduplication is very high — the highest, probably, on the market. It is quite easy-to-use, although you need to have some experience with the software before it really seems easy. If you have some experience with software, you will have no problem getting into the deeper levels of the graphic user interface to explore and use some of the more useful hidden features. At that point, it is no problem to navigate because you already know what you are looking for.  

What needs improvement?

The parts of the solution that can be improved most seem to me to be the integration with the tape libraries. I know that is not common use because nowadays most companies want to give up on using tapes for what they think are other, better solutions. To them, tapes are not modern or fashionable or something. The integration with tape libraries is included in this new PowerProtect product, but you need an extra virtual machine — probably some extra server — next to this solution to manage the tape library. EMC had some idea before when they were distributing Avamar Software and Appliances that tapes were passee and they said to the market that no one should use tape anymore. With that, they eliminated the option from the product. Now we can see that in the market tape is still used. There are not any drawbacks to using tape because tape, even now, is the most versatile medium on which to store data.  

An enhancement I would like to see is in the configuration of the product. They have resources in this product that can be used in different ways to make the user experience better. It seems to me that if Dell EMC could combine this into one good product, then they should do it because then there is not any reason to develop more than one backup software product. It does not make sense to invest in the development of two or three. Because there are different purposes, they have chosen to create different backup software packages especially for endpoints and a separate one built for the data centers. Instead, it would be more powerful and efficient if they could combine the two solutions into one solution. For example, Commvault does something like this.  

If they combined the products, then you could have one pane-of-glass on a screen and you can manage the whole entire organization. In this PowerProtect, there is something like that, but you know and can tell that you have two distinct products. It is one graphical user interface, but below this, you are interacting with it as if there are two different products (Networker and Avamar) and they are quite different if you compared them one-to-one. I would recommend Dell EMC take the extra step to combine it into one product. It would be better for them and the users.  

Additional features might be something to add support for Docker/Linux Container systems. This would be something like having virtualization by container. Currently, the solution is not able to back up from Docker containers. I am not sure, but maybe it is possible to put some type of agent into the Docker container to make it possible to back up the whole machine from outside. This is a problem and they could improve it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I do have one customer who uses PowerProtect and they had a problem with this type of situation. It was an Oracle database and the databases were containerized. This is one thing that I know about right now that seems to me could be improved in the design and made smarter.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have had experience with this PowerProtect product for a few years really. PowerProtect is really just a newer version of an older product called NetWorker. PowerProtect has been out for less than one year because it was just announced in 2019. But I have experience with the components of EMC products for a longer amount of time. With NetWorker, the last version I used was 18.2. PowerProtect has different numbering.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

PowerProtect is stable.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to scale because all you need is to do is add the license. You can change the setup however you want. It is not any problem. They have a policy and process for this where it works quite smoothly.  

In our installation, I would say we have about 50 licenses. It is counted by terabytes. You are buying capacity with their pricing model and you will have all the licenses included with that.  

How are customer service and technical support?

The experience with customer support depends on your location and how you approach it. In Poland, we have support, but we do not have so much. If you have some connections with some guys who are high-level support deeply hidden in the company — guys from the USA or from the UK who you can contact — getting good support is not any problem. You can contact them to get some valuable information quickly to solve some problem or some issue that would take a long time going through the standard path through support. Stronger regional support in Poland would be better for users here.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward because if you buy the software and the hardware solution together it is essentially ready to go an instant after it is installed. This is not a complete configuration, of course, but the configuration may take just a few hours. I would say hours, not weeks or months. If, for example, if you would like to connect to some systems where you want to get your data, then you need to configure that in the system. Overall, it depends on how big of an environment you have. But you should be selecting what you want to backup and how. You need to know what you want it to do for you beforehand as a solution, and then it is not so hard to do.  

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

The licensing costs and pricing model are based on capacity and the license is easy to upgrade.  

What other advice do I have?

My advice is simply that I would recommend the product.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Dell EMC PowerProtect as a nine.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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