NetApp SnapCenter Review

Dashboard provides a good overview, but OS updates occasionally cause instability


What is our primary use case?

We have a handful of customers constantly using it, mostly for SQL databases, while one of them uses it for VMware.

How has it helped my organization?

From the feedback I've heard from clients, they do experience time savings with this solution. It's more efficient than before. SQL backup is just a pain, but with this solution, it seems to be much better. And the consolidated view is a good tool for them on a daily basis.

What is most valuable?

The backup feature is the most valuable, of course.

Moreover, what is very handy for our clients is the consolidated view. They have a dashboard with everything, through a single pane of glass. This is what they really need because, within seconds, they can have a good overview and see if there are any errors or any issues.

What needs improvement?

What I did witness lately are issues with some Microsoft KBs, the updates. But it happened only once, and not on a major platform, it was on a small one. We're doing a major one for a customer in Paris with many SQL servers and, to date, everything is going well.

I have not yet had experience with version 4.0 - that is the latest one - but I have gone through the release notes and it seems to have some improvements.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's quite stable, but sometimes the stability seems to be endangered by the ecosystem itself and especially the OS updates. This is what we did experience from our side. But the demand for this piece of software is pretty slim among our customers. We have five or six customers using it. Since we support more than 400 customers, this is a pretty rare solution in our scope. But still, the stability seems to be fair.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've got customers with just one or two servers, and we've got customers with a lot of servers. But NetApp is something that is quite monolithic. You need the same base installed for or one server or ten, 20, or 50 servers. The prerequisites are really even, because you cannot tune the deployment for a small environment or a big one. There is only one flavor.

How is customer service and technical support?

I use their tech support on a daily basis. Lately, we have experienced many changes. In the past, we were able to directly access level two but that's over. Nowadays, we always need to go through level one. For us, it's a pain and a waste of time because NetApp wants us to be highly certified. We've got here a big team that is very knowledgeable about NetApp solutions, meaning the whole portfolio. At the end of the day, it's somewhat frustrating for us because when we do engage NetApp, it is because we cannot be completely autonomous. But by that point, we have already taken many troubleshooting steps. Especially for the end customers, when we don't have a solution and we have to open a case with NetApp support, often they get the feeling it's something of a "rerun," because most of the time they need to do the same steps that we already did ourselves.

We are trying to hide that process and make it seamless, but sometimes it does end up with a big waste of time and it's a bit frustrating. I have spoken about these kinds of concerns many times already with the department managers.

They moved all the service providers to this new scheme. It was a corporate decision and we just have to comply. Every authorized service partner, nowadays, is forced to go through level one.

How was the initial setup?

I'm not involved in the initial installation but I do support the solution and sometimes do upgrades. In my opinion, the upgrade I did went well, but it's been a while. It was from version 2.0 to 3.0. At that time, it ran fine and was better than expected. It was seamless.

The upgrade took a little more than an hour. We did a first station, just to ensure that all the prerequisites were met up front, to set it up in the best way. The customers always want the sensitive stuff to be done outside of business hours.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is the same for all of the offsite products made by NetApp. You need to look carefully at the prerequisites to avoid any bad surprises afterward. But if you follow the rules, it should go easily.

The solution is mostly is used by backup administrators and sometimes DBAs. From my side it's really hard to tell who is using it because I am always in touch with the same one or two people at every company, because these are the people who are opening the tickets.

I would rate this solution at seven out of ten. It's more than "fair," but it's not perfect. But I will be pleased to have a look at version 4.0 to see what the improvements are.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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