NetApp SnapCenter Review

We can clone to different servers, but the manual upgrade process has been a headache

What is our primary use case?

We're using it for Oracle and SQL, and we use it for backups and cloning.

What is most valuable?

The backup features are the most valuable because they allow the DBAs to replace SnapManager for Oracle (SMO), which is going away, and to do cloning as well.

We can also clone to different servers and have the actual backup clone mounted on different servers. And we can split easily too.

What needs improvement?

It hasn't improved our organization because we're going through some kinks with the product as of right now. We've had several tickets open, but because it's replacing SMO we have to get used to using it now.

As far as ease of use, the DBAs are comparing it to SMO but it doesn't have a lot of the functionalities that SMO has.

My major issue is when I upgrade. I have to touch every last client that I have in SnapCenter, and right now I have 60. I have to touch all of them. They said that in another release that will get better, but right now it's not better and I've had to do this three times. That's my biggest headache, having to touch each client to upgrade this product, via GUI or manually.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a good product. There should have been more thought put into it before it went live, because when the DBAs are so used to using SMO, it's obvious they're going to compare the two. If they're used to a function that SnapCenter doesn't have, that's an issue. Slowly but surely, it's getting the functions, but when it was presented to us we understood that it would just replace SMO as is, that we'd be able to do everything we needed to do. But we couldn't.

How are customer service and technical support?

So far, technical support has been decent, it's been good.

Every time we bring up an issue that we're having, they say we have to upgrade to another version, but the version's not quite out. I think they're writing solutions to some of our kinks into the product, which is good, but I wish that they would just tell us that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We switched from SMO because it was going to be discontinued. Going forward, we can't install it on our production servers anymore. That's why we went to SnapCenter. SMO is not going to be supported as of spring 2019.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It was just plug-and-play on the Windows Server, get the firewall ports open that are needed, and push to the clients. It is still a manual process, but that piece, the initial install, is easy. The upgrades are not.

The deployment took no more than an hour, but I did it on my own. If I had had initial support it probably would have been less. The reason it took so long is that I didn't have the right firewall ports open. It was clearly there for me but I missed something. So it took about an hour to get the ports opened.

I had everything that I needed. I just took it on by myself, and it was the first time doing it, and it was the first release of SnapCenter. It was 3.0. We don't have direct NetApp support. We have Datalink support. Datalink is our VAR but they didn't know too much about SnapCenter. They had to promote my ticket to NetApp and go from there. Once my question was answered - "Oh, you left out this firewall port" - then it was all good.

Our implementation strategy was to get all of our Prod servers into SnapCenter and that was accomplished in six months.

What was our ROI?

It's a site license, so it comes with what we have. We have over 400 terabytes of NetApp disk, and it comes with it. So the return on investment is null and void. Since we have it, we're using it.

It does the cloning piece, which it's supposed to do. But we figured that out when 4.0 came out. When we first went to it, it would not do that in 3.0. We're getting a return on investment because it basically comes with what we have.

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

We have a site license, so it comes with the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate other vendors. All our databases are on NetApp storage, so we wanted to stick with NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

Test out every function that you think you'll need before you implement it in your
production environment.

My role is just to do the configurations. The DBAs actually use the product because it's more of a set it and forget it. I configure it on the server then they get to use it. We have only SQL DBAs and Oracle DBAs using it, a total of about eight people. For deployment we just need the storage team which consists of two people.

If it botches, we will move more into Commvault, because we do have Commvault for backups. But with Commvault backups, it would be the storage team in control of their clones and restores, and we don't want that. So we're going to push forward with SnapCenter because, for the most part, it does what it's supposed to do.

I would rate SnapCenter a seven out of ten, only because of the kinks that we have to keep going through to get what we need. They end up fixing it in a different version, but I wish it was just ready for us on implementation, and then the DBAs would be off my back.

**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.
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