EMC Data Domain Review

Reliable solution that reduces the time and effort required to manage the system


What is our primary use case?

We primarily used this product as a solution for backups.

How has it helped my organization?

This product improved our system of backup by reducing the time and effort required to manage the system.

What is most valuable?

The reliability of Data Domain was the most useful feature to me. Every piece of data is recorded multiple times in several devices in a cluster. If any hardware failure occurs, it does not impact the data and does not result in any data loss. Resilience and reliability under any circumstances are important to data security.

What needs improvement?

Spanning the time I worked with EMC Data Domain, I had no issues that suggested to me that it needed improvement. It was working fine, and anything I wanted to do with Data Domain, I could do it. So I had no idea that it might have needed improvement. That is just thinking from a technical perspective as a user. It did what it needed to do for backup.

In hindsight, I am aware that there is a feature that does not exist in Data Domain related to the security of the product and the data. A friend who works in another organization had a problem when his organization was infected with ransomware. The ransomware locked up the data in the Data Domain and disrupted the data system asking for something in return or it would delete all the data. The ransom was not submitted and the hack successfully deleted all the data. This is a big concern and no small issue where data is critical.

So I believe security measures are not strict enough in Data Domain. I would like to see something in place for better security.

In addition to this — which is related to security as well — there are regulations from the central bank that mandates that we need to keep backup copies that are not connected to the network. They must be completely isolated from the network. Data Domain does not have any arrangements to satisfy this requirement. For compliance, we need to use a secondary solution.

The only other issue is that the prices seem high in comparison to other products and they should consider restructuring their pricing plans.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the product for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable and reliable. I have never had an issue with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution. Whenever we needed to we could add new nodes with minimal effort and keep the same data structure.

Defining the number of users for the system is a little tricky because only the backup administrators actually use the Data Domain solution to do the backup procedures for the whole bank as a company. So the actual number of users of the product — hands-on — is around three people. But these three people are doing backups for many systems that are centrally connected to Data Domain. These many systems have around 300 total servers which go through the backup process. Each one of those 300 servers contains data from many users and transactions. In a way, our implementation of this product is serving many thousands of customers, and it can serve many thousands more.

So, yes, I think it is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our experience with customer and technical support has been very good. For example, in one instance we had a problem with the hardware and technical support guy came and replaced the failed component. This was seamless from our operations because the system is highly available and redundant. So everything continued working even with some part failing. But the technical support people were knowledgeable, quick and on-premises.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

Before using Data Domain, I was using a tape library. It was IBM Tape Library with LTO (Linear Tape-Open). We switched to EMC Data Domain because of the speed. Backing up data to a tape library is much, much slower than backup to Data Domain, which is based on hard disks. it's much faster in backup.

The system we switched to is actually EMC Data Domain as the hardware device for backup, while Veritas is the software backup. Veritas has its own hardware device. However, EMC Data Domain hardware is much better than Veritas. The golden combination as I see it is EMC Data Domain hardware with Veritas software. Going that way, I get the best of each in our backup solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. For the deployment, it took one day for the hardware implementation and a couple of days for integration with the software. For several days, I worked with IBM TSM (Tivoli Storage Manager) or Veritas. All of the parts came together well and I had no real issues.

What about the implementation team?

The implementation was carried out by my team and myself with some input from EMC as well. That was a team was a total of two persons from EMC, one person from my team and myself. I just managed the team and oversaw the process. I think normally that a technical team of about three people can handle the deployment.

What was our ROI?

As far as having a return on investment, I see investing in Data Domain as having a positive return. It is reliable and it does a very good job when it comes to data compression and deduplication. It makes the backup size much smaller, which saves the company a lot of money because you are not buying tape cartridges for the tape library or even hard discs for temporary backup to store redundant information.

Another ROI which is less tangible is the time for recovery. If I have a problem and I would like to recover something, it is a much faster procedure working with hardware than with tape.

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

One thing that anyone considering this solution has to realize is that it is expensive. It is expensive for a reason, but it is expensive.

What other advice do I have?

Anyone considering using this solution will first need to make a proper assessment of their need for the data storage because this is misleading. Sometimes managers just make a simple assumption that an organization has about 50 terabytes of data and that they don't need more than this for backup. This is not correct.

If you look into the whole backup strategy, you will see how frequently you will do backups, how many copies we will need to retain, and the period of days that the data is retained — It will be a specific period of days and the backups will rotate. There should be a retention strategy and a rate of change of the data backups. All of these are parameters that affect the sizing of the data domain device. It could be many times the initial size depending on the strategy and how critical the data is. So assessing the proper sizing is very important and key for the success of the backup strategy.

It is important, as well, to assure that the software and the hardware work seamlessly together because you can mix and match software and hardware solutions to come to the ultimate package. Making sure that every feature in the software would work with the hardware is really imperative before making any decision.

On a scale from one to ten with one being the worst and ten being the best, I would rate EMC Data Domain as 7.5. The reason why it is not higher than 7.5 is mostly because of the cost. It is a very expensive solution. The lack of better security features to protect the data is really another big issue.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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