What is most valuable?
We purchased it as part of a package with StoreOnce. Its integration with StoreOnce was probably the key selling point for us and made us choose Data Protector and not one of the other products on the market that don't natively support StoreOnce. There's quite a wide range of application integrations, for example, with SQL Server, Exchange, and Hyper-V.
How has it helped my organization?
It's allowed us to reliably perform backups without a whole lot of constant attention required. Again, the integrations with SQL Server, Exchange, and Hyper-V are reliable and effective. The integration with SQL Server 2012 is particularly well-executed.
What needs improvement?
Data Protector is a fairly complicated product and some of the terminology is quite complex. There is a bit of a learning curve for new administrators who are working on it. Some of that could be eased by having a better GUI, which is not very good. There isn't much good reporting built-in to the GUI. For example, to see the status of yesterday's Exchange backup you have to click on and view all of the possible numbered backup sessions from yesterday until you find the one that relates to Exchange.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've used it for 18 months.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
We've had no issues with deployment.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We have become frequent customers of the Data Protector technical support team because Data Protector does fairly regularly break. And it does so, generally, without any involvement on our part. The software is not as stable and reliable as it should be.
Invariably, the response from technical support to that is to install the latest set of patches for Data Protector. It's very frequently patched. Upgrading to the next patch release is quite a big task because you also have to upgrade all of the components running on all of the backup targets at the same time.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We've had no issues with scalability.
How are customer service and technical support?
While they're fairly knowledgable, they're not very responsive. The turnaround time on critical tickets can be many days. First-level support is not very knowledgable, so virtually everything ends up going up to second-level support, who are, quite obviously, overworked.
Generally, once you're talking to someone, it's a reasonably good experience. But the response times aren't as good as they should be.
Technical support for Data Protector isn't as good as with 3PAR, the Blade platform, and the ProLiant servers. Support for those, 3PAR in particular, is noticeably better.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We previously used Tivoli Storage Manager, which was similar in complexity to Data Protector but less reliable. Tivoli required daily care and attention to keep it running. Data Protector, while imperfect, is significantly more reliable than Tivoli was for us.
How was the initial setup?
I'd say for a typical organization of our size, where you're not able to send someone on multiple training courses and make them the full-time "backup guy", it's probably going to be a project that requires external consultancy. There are very many moving parts. It's a complicated architecture with confusing and not-always-consistent terminology.
What other advice do I have?
Data Protector is a little bit more complicated than it should be. I think most people would probably agree that there's no such thing as good backup software, but Data Protector is certainly not the worst that we've used. It could be more reliable. It could be a little easier to understand. It could have a better user-interface, with better reporting. But in terms of actually, reliably, backing things up, it's superior to the other products that we've used in-house.