NetApp SnapCenter Review

Resource groups allow us to put servers into buckets, making backup reporting much easier

What is our primary use case?

We back up Microsoft SQL and Microsoft Exchange 2016.

How has it helped my organization?

What we found was that we weren't backing up all of our SQL servers. We have now gotten to 100 percent compliance in backing up all of our data, and it's regularly measurable: daily, weekly, and monthly.

Where we had issues before, spread out in multiple products, like SnapManager For SQL and SnapManager for Exchange, now it's all under one umbrella. It's made backups and reporting much easier for us.

What is most valuable?

Being able to add everything in as resource groups is a valuable feature. We used to have our SQL DBAs each do backups on their servers and there were some inconsistencies across our few dozen SQL servers. What we found is that having all the SQL servers put into specific buckets, based on their year of release - 2008, 2012, 2014 - allows us to get almost immediate backups that are easily seen and reported on.

And the reporting feature has been particularly beneficial to upper management. Everyone wants to make sure that our most critical data is backed up on a frequent basis. When you do manual backups, you do not get the benefit of seeing successes and failures and how often you have to do restores. With SnapCenter, you get all of that.

What needs improvement?

The documentation could be a little bit better so that we could handle more of the troubleshooting ourselves, rather than having to go through support. Other than that, it's been a pretty easy product to deal with.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. Once it was in place and we had confirmation from your backup targets, the only issue we saw was due to a .NET upgrade on the client. That was fixable on the Microsoft side.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've thrown twice as many servers at it than at SnapCenter 2.0 and it doesn't seem to be impeded, performance-wise.

We do have plans to increase usage of SnapCenter. Currently, we don't have any Oracle in SnapCenter but we plan on backing up our entire Oracle environment. That's something that is being manually backed up right now, but we'd like SnapCenter to take care of all of that.

How is customer service and technical support?

The support has been phenomenal. NetApp's support is the best. They always solve the problem. They are always treating us like we're their only customer. When we had something that was a problem, that they hadn't experienced, they coordinated a call with the developers of the product and we ended up getting it fixed. We encountered something that they hadn't seen before. It ended up being a patch for other people. It's been a fantastic process and product for us.

Which solutions did we use previously?

For Oracle, we do manual backups. For the other platforms, we would use a combination of VSC, SnapManager for Exchange, and Snap Manager for SQL. We switched to put everything under one umbrella and not have multiple, fragmented points of administration.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. Then, we ended up going from SnapCenter 2.0 to SnapCenter 4.0 and we didn't do a straight upgrade. We did a separate server because we wanted, as an organization, to get away from Windows Server 2008. Transitioning those backups over to the other server was almost equally easy as setting up a new server.

Deployment of SnapCenter 2.0 took about three weeks. SnapCenter 4.0 was done
in under two weeks.

Our implementation strategy was to put this on the virtual machine that we could move
from data center to data center. Because we're a virtual environment, with multiple data centers, the ability to have SnapCenter be a plugin, and not like an agent, that reports back to a specific IP address, was very helpful for us. The strategy was to get the entire environment covered. This allowed us to do that.

It took two people for deployment: Myself as team lead and my senior engineer who's familiar with the NetApp product line. We have four storage engineers who manage it and their roles are data protection and senior-level engineers.

What about the implementation team?

We did it by ourselves.

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

It comes free with the amount of equipment we purchase from NetApp. In terms of pricing, zero is my favorite number. If we purchased a certain size of NetApp hardware, SnapCenter was included for free.

What other advice do I have?

I'd recommend SnapCenter, if you're currently a NetApp shop and you're using a variety of other backup systems like NetBackup or others. This is much easier to administer and maintain and upgrade.

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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