IBM Spectrum Protect Review

Provides us with the scalability and growth that we need

What is our primary use case?

We're working with different versions of this solution. We have different versions deployed for multiple clients. The latest version is 8.1.11. We have a mixture of legacy environments and new environments.

Our client's use cases are mainly to protect heterogeneous workloads, virtualized workloads, physical workloads, databases, SAP solutions, and ERP solutions. It's great for large, heterogeneous environments. Spectrum Protect has a lot of different agents and components that allow you to completely backup your entire environment.

I am a technical team leader for this solution. I have an implementation team who work side by side with me. From the customer-side, there is a team of roughly six people working with it. There are administrators, backup operators, and technical managers that work with us and this solution. In total, the organization has roughly 6,000 employees. It's a large organization by Colombian standards. 

How has it helped my organization?

IBM Spectrum Protect provides us with the scalability and growth that we need. It is suitable for very large environments. It's very robust and has been on the market for a long time.

Here's an example of how this solution has improved our client's organization: There is a customer in the banking sector here in Colombia — the private banking sector. They had two terabytes of information backed up daily, in incremental backups from a different number of file servers. Those file servers were being backed up daily. At the end of the month, the customer backed up the data completely. In short, they made a full backup of all the data  on a monthly basis. It was roughly 20 terabytes of data. To cope with this situation we implemented retention sets. Thanks to these retention sets, the customer doesn't need to back up that 20 terabytes of information monthly. They can just resort to the incremental backups that they made before, daily, to have a snapshot and an accurate picture of the end of the month. They only have to do another incremental backup for the last day of the month, and that's it; they have a complete, very robust picture for the monthly data. 

This has reduced our customers' backup time by a considerable amount. They have also reduced the amount of storage space needed as they are not repeating backups every month. The data is 90% the same, month to month, which has optimized both speed and storage capacity.

What is most valuable?

One of the more recent features that we value the most, being an influencer myself, there is feature we call retention sets. These retention sets are snapshots of previously backed-up data. This data no longer needs to be backed up again so there's no need to re-back up that information, to reinject that data. It allows us to offer, improve, and optimize the use of storage resources for our customers. We implemented this solution for a number of clients here in Colombia and throughout Latin America.

Also, Spectrum Protect has what is one of the greatest ecosystems of experts, users, forums and in general learning resources in the data protection realm.

What needs improvement?

The reporting could be better. There's not a complete solution for reporting; however, there is a solution that allows you to write SQL queries. This way, you can explore the databases with metadata and get the reports that you want. Still, that's not an out-of-the-box solution, it's just a tool that allows you to write queries as you need. There is a steep learning curve for that.

I would also love to see more agents and solutions devoted to backing up other workloads, especially in regard to non-traditional databases.

The licensing can be a pain to manage. There is a tool that can provide you with automated reports regarding how much licensing you're using, but sometimes it's not accurate. You need to contact an IBM representative in order to get the correct information. 

Traditionally, there has been a Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments module that allows you to protect virtualized environments; however, it's not easy to use. It's very complex. In this case, my advice is to leverage Spectrum Protect Plus, which is the newest addition to the portfolio to back up both virtualized and modern workloads and works very well.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working with Spectrum Protect for the last 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think that it's the most scalable solution in the market. That's the reason why the largest enterprises in Colombia use it. Speaking as an expert on these types of solutions, there is no other solution that can support the size of workloads, components, and servers required for very large environments. I don't think it's just a matter of scalability, but also performance, too.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM technical support has been pretty good so far. We were given a technical point of contact for every inquiry that we had during the implementation process. My team has a lot of expertise now, but every now and again, we require some support from IBM. Their support has helped us get this solution working precisely as we need. Overall, regarding IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM support has been great. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup might be complex. There are a lot of different nuances that need to be taken into account; however, with the help from an experienced team, the product can be deployed seamlessly.

Years ago, it took us roughly three to four months to implement this solution — mainly due to the amount of maintenance and the number of components that also need to be deployed. Security concerns also need to be addressed and resolved from the client-side. All of this made it quite difficult.  Now that we leverage IBM Spectrum Protect blueprints that are available publicly, to reduce implementation time down to a couple of weeks, sometimes even a couple of days. This has allowed us to stay competitive in what is a very competitive market.

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

Spectrum Protect Plus, a complementary solution to Spectrum Protect, comes bundles in some licensing schemes together with Spectrum Protect. This has allowed us to reach all sorts of customers. It allows our clients to get a hold of virtualization technology, including backup and recovery, and instant restore. These are features are needed in today's rapidly changing environments.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When Spectrum Protect is not suitable for a customer's environment, we always recommend backup replication solutions. Backup replication solutions are much easier to manage as they don't require a steep learning curve. Backup replication solutions are a great fit for small to medium-sized businesses, but for large corporations, large enterprises, or large companies, my choice is Spectrum Protect.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to potential users would be to follow the IBM Spectrum Protect blueprints. These documents are very valuable and informative. They'll provide you with a lot of needed advice. They'll also provide you with a forewarning regarding situations that can occur during the implementation process. Sometimes people completely skip over these blueprints and go ahead with the implementation — my take is: don't .

Make sure to leverage all of the new features that this product offers. For example, many people don't bother using the retention feature; however, this feature is great for reducing storage and also improves the backup speed regarding operations. Don't be intimidated by these features. Contact and experienced team that can help you out to get the most out of the solution.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give his solution a rating of eight — it's a proven solution.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

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