IBM Spectrum Protect Review

Our customers have benefited from being able to move between tiers within the product

What is our primary use case?

Spectrum Protect is performing well, and the primary use case is just for backups to provide recovery. It is not the first point of recovery for the customer. However, it definitely prevents our customers from going out of business, because they need to have a backup.

On the backup side, we use ProtecTIER Virtual Tape recoveries. On the customer side, the front-end side of it, they recently moved to all-flash storage, not IBM storage. They have got a mix of old servers, which are physical. There are a mix of Sun, AIX, VMware, and Hyper-V, so there is pretty much everything across the board at the customers.

How has it helped my organization?

Generally, the happiest users are Oracle users. What they like about the platform is that they have received organic benefits in performance from the backup system and also as their platforms have upgraded over the time. Therefore, every time customers make a change or we have made a change, then they use the product to do a cloning and refreshing. They are happy that they get good performance something changes.

What is most valuable?

The ability to migrate between media over a long period of time. My customers are long-time users, and they have benefited from being able to move between tiers, e.g., L Tier 5 from L Tier 6 and/or L Tier 7. They have been able to do this within the product.

What needs improvement?

More support for non-mainstream databases, in particular PostgreSQL, SQL, and MySQL. I would also like support for snapshots of non-IBM hardware. I have read some future statements, and it seems that this is coming, though.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Sometimes, there is a perception that it is a legacy product, and some customers are less keen to take on the more innovative features. Therefore, we have some customers who are running on the current version of Spectrum Protect and use all of the current features, and some customers who consider it a legacy product. However, they are a bit stuck in the way that they use the product, only using the old style features.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have worked with it for 15 years. I have found it to be very scalable. Where I work now as a business partner, our customers use it. I have some small customers and some large customers, and it works well. Where I used to work before, we ran backup as a service, and we had about 21 instances of Spectrum Protect running. It was just reliable. That is my experience.

The customers who are doing workloads in the cloud are choosing to have cloud-based backup strategies. It is an area in the product where our competitors may have better offerings right now, but the people who are moving to the cloud, if they are doing it well, are choosing not to have their data in the cloud be static. They are using the cloud to spin up a workload and spin it down. Thus, the workloads are being provisioned as opposed to needing to have static data in them. Therefore, the real value is the code which generates the machine running in the cloud, and we backup that.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support a lot over a long time. There are two sides to it. I find quite often with the Level 1 and Level 2 support that I struggle with time zones. Sometimes depending on where the support is coming from, there can be barriers in understanding the problem. 

Usually when I get up to Level 2 or Level 3 support the technical capabilities are really good, and I also find that if I need a point solution to a point problem, they will find code and build code for my problem. This has been very good. They won't just say, "We are looking at fixing that, you may need to wait a year." They will come out and help you fix a problem. However, the first day of interaction at Level 1 is not really very good.

How was the initial setup?

I have been involved in the initial setup a few times. I have also migrated from one hardware platform to a different one, Solaris to AIX along with TSM (before it was Spectrum Protect). I have found it more complex then some of its competitor products, but because I have worked on the product for a while, I find it fairly simple. Now, I understand how to install it well, but it would still be complex for a novice. 

I am quite keen on getting more experience with Spectrum Protect Plus, because it seems like it is a lot easier, and that is where we will go in the future.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have used a couple of different backup products. As a business partner, our customers do choose other backup products. Generally, I find I have less trouble with Spectrum Protect than I have had with the other backup products.

Mainly, the competition is Commvault, if they are looking at the functionality that Spectrum Protect is offering. There are some customers who go with Veeam. The reason that they go with Veem is because they have a desire to go there. When they already want to go that way, it is difficult to position Spectrum Protect as an alternative. I am really keen to see how Spectrum Protect Plus might compete with Veem in the marketplace.

What other advice do I have?

As a business partner, the customer is choosing the product, and we are recommending Spectrum Protect. Certainly our bigger customers have a lot of legacy data, so they already had Spectrum Protect. Therefore, it is a fairly simple decision to maintain it. However, some of our customers go through reviews and look at options. 

We have, in our long history, lost some customers to competitors, but the reasons why did not have to do with the product. I do not think we have lost anyone because the product was not delivering.

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