NetApp SnapCenter Review

Gives you one console to monitor all your jobs, rather than going to different vCenters

What is our primary use case?

We use it for VMware. We haven't integrated any of our SQL or Exchange solutions with SnapCenter. We haven't tested that yet. I think there is a plugin for Oracle but we haven't tested that either. The primary thing we have been using in SnapCenter is the ability to integrate with our ESXi environment.

We have about 300 virtual machines, including virtual desktops. That's going to be increased to about 400 or 500, once the projects in the pipeline are rolled out.

How has it helped my organization?

Our organization is strengthened because we have NetBackup and we tend to use SnapCenter as the primary backup and recovery software. NetBackup has proven to be more the long-term archiving or storage solution.

What is most valuable?

The central pane view is the most valuable feature. You have one console where you can monitor all your jobs, as opposed to going to different vCenters.

What needs improvement?

The integration with the vCenter could be better in the sense that the only plain view you have is the data stores. In previous versions of the plugin for the VSC, before Snap Center, you could view the virtual machine that you wanted to snapshot. It would include all the data stores that were in part of that specific virtual machine. Now, you select the data store and it should tell you whether or not there's a virtual machine you're looking for included in that resource group or that data store.

I don't know if the roadmap includes SnapCenter for Hyper-V. We tend to have a lot of Hyper-V and we also have a Hyper-V environment and that is backed up through SnapManager for Hyper-V. So now we have two management consoles and we would ideally like to leverage SnapCenter to include Hyper-V.

I understand that restoring directly from SnapCenter would be a bit complex. And they have the plugin. For me, the two obvious features to add would be that the plugin in vCenter should be more granular, enabling you to select what you want to back up in the resource groups. And I would like to see a plugin for Hyper-V.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I haven't had any issues with its stability. I had issues with the underlying virtual machine, but as far as SnapCenter itself goes, it has been reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't scaled it.

How is customer service and technical support?

NetApp technical support is struggling. I've been using NetApp for several years. Maybe it's because support is outsourced, but I wish there were different degrees of support we could call into. I find that I'm starting on "page one" with support and I'm answering the same questions over and over. It takes a while before the ticket actually reaches someone who has the required level of experience and we can actually start working on the problem.

I feel there is definitely room for improvement in tech support.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We're using NetBackup. We haven't replaced any solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. The only problem, the only complexity we had, was when using SnapCenter cluster environment configuration. We have network load balancing between SnapCenters. We struggled a bit with that because of, perhaps, the firewall or something else, but once the installation was completed it was a complex situation to resolve.

The initial deployment went fairly quickly. It took about two hours in total. Then we tried to do the load balancing and we started having technical issues.

We install it for clients. Their strategy, initially, was to move away from IBM DS Storage and upgrade their infrastructure to deploy the converged solution from NetApp, the FlexPod solution. That was the initial scope: To go from the more distributed type of environment to a more consolidated, single-solution type of strategy. Instead of having different vendors, FlexPod provided a single support mechanism.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated SnapCenter vs Veeam. We found that since SnapCenter was integrated and there's zero cost involved because we had all the licenses, there wasn't a need to purchase something else. We have used it along with Site Recovery Manager. Veeam wasn't going to offer anything unique.

What other advice do I have?

It works. It's reliable. There are no real negative aspects. It's a very solid product.

We only have one dedicated user. We haven't defined roles, we haven't used that functionality. We just provide one user with administrative access and that's being shared. We have three staff members managing the solution: SnapCenter, NetApp, and VMware. They all have access to SnapCenter. One is a backup administrator, another is the infrastructure manager, and we have a person who looks after the networking infrastructure, etc.

I would rate SnapCenter at nine out of ten. It's not a ten because of the limitations of the backup, of the granularity, and that it's missing the features for Hyper-V.

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: Gold Partner.
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