What is most valuable?
Compression of standard backups is quite good and speed is pretty good too. I want to add additional comments here after the product has been in production use for 6 months - the total footprint of our backups has reduced drastically. It is far better than the native SQL compressed backup utility, and even though we are seeing approximately 1.4 : 1 de-duplication ratio (using compression at Level 3) we've saved so much space that we still have more than 33% free space on our backup appliances.
How has it helped my organization?
We've had a huge reduction in the nightly backup footprint size, even though it doesn't de-duplicate very well on the ExaGrid backup appliances. We've saved quite literally terabytes of space on our appliances. One of the biggest improvements it has made for us is that we can now recover 12 of our largest production servers into our DR site in about 4 hours and 15 minutes - this has dropped significantly from the previous RTO of about 12 hours!
What needs improvement?
Idera treats a backup of a SQL Server as if it is essentially a single backup job of each individual database. You can't see any metrics about how long it took you to backup the entire server. It doesn't handle restoration to different drives very easily, and it won't create folder structures if they don't exist already. It cannot be used to implement replication on another instance without first converting files back into SQL Server .bak files. There appears to be LOTs of shortcomings. [All of these short-comings are still very much present even after 6 months of feedback to Idera. No solution is in sight.] Still has a focus on individual databases and not for entire server recoveries. Have tried adjusting max threads values, but it seems to have little affect and Idera is still researching the issue.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been testing this product out since October 2015.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
When using compression on backups, it does not generate the exact same sized compressed file twice in a row even on a static database and dedicated test server...therefore it inhibits de-duplication of data on backup appliances.
It does not provide any useful method of backing up an entire server instance and porting it to another server elsewhere which may be configured with different drive structure. It doesn't even pull the default data/log file locations from the Server properties when selecting the MOVE FILE option on a restore.
We have frequent needs to move around or replicate entire database servers, and this product isn't tailored to support anything but single database backup and recovery operations.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Other than licensing issues being required for different domains, it has been relatively stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Not so far, but we've only started using it on 4 of around 110 servers so far. We have our hands full trying to shake out many issues in order to keep it running in production mode so far. Revised: Now operational on 121 instances of SQL Server and no problems have been observed with scalability.
How are customer service and technical support?
Poor. Still waiting (for 2 weeks now) to learn who our 3rd sales/customer representative will be. We've needed additional licenses to implement the product on our DMZ and still haven't gotten them. Not sure what the high turn-over rate bodes for us. Technical Support
Pretty good as far as "how to" questions/issues, but absolutely terrible beyond that. No explanation in last 2 months about why it produces a different size backup file when using a fixed compression level. Numerous bugs have been reported. Support says that we will be placed on "interested party" list for fixes released in the future. For a supposedly mature product, it lacks basic functionality that the built-in Microsoft SQL Server backup/restore programs provide and being told we'll be added to interested party list isn't very satisfying.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Only the SQL Server built-in utility.
How was the initial setup?
Somewhat complex, but okay I suppose.
What about the implementation team?
What was our ROI?
A lot less than anticipated because we had hoped that we'd see much better de-duplication rates from our ExaGrid appliance. We don't see them because SQL Safe produces different sized backup files with every run.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I'd look around at other alternatives if you have a choice.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Remember to test out full backup and restore of a entire server to see if you like the way it works. Also - make sure that don't use this product if you have to run transactional replication - SQL Server doesn't work with .SAFE file types and running the Idera conversion utility took 5 times longer to create SQL backup file from a SAFE backup file than it does to just take the backup in SQL Server mode to begin with.