What is our primary use case?
Primary use case is covering fast backup and restore for customers, mostly for SQL databases, some Oracle database systems in servers, and some file share backups with Snapshots with the possibility of restore.
SnapCenter is usually an additional software, which is not the main backup software. Most companies have already found a backup solution and are using SnapCenter to be able to do a fast restoration of their data. Therefore, they are using two solutions at once, side-by-side. Companies will have their primary backup solution and SnapCenter as a redundancy because the primary solution isn't favored to recover data so quickly.
How has it helped my organization?
The biggest advantage of the product is you can provide a quick restore. We have some companies with policies which require us to be able to restore their data back up and running in maximum 15 minutes. We can achieve these customer policies for RPO and RTO using SnapCenter.
Most customers are able to restore their full backup of the database in two to three minutes (15 minutes is the maximum). This way, they have another 10 minutes in their time window to restore SQL transaction logs, etc.
What is most valuable?
The main advantage is its fast backup and restore.
What needs improvement?
The Microsoft environment is its biggest disadvantage due to the central management of all the actions. Because the SnapCenter server is where we deploy everything, it also affects the Microsoft environment, which can cause many difficulties when resolving issues like Windows update problems.
We had less issues with SnapManager, the previous product before SnapCenter came out, where there were standalone installations. We are having issues with SnapCenter because of its central management. While it is fine if it's working, sometimes it's quite heavy to figuring out what's wrong, and mostly the problems are because of some Windows updates. We would like NetApp to develop some better diagnostics to report when an installation is performing uncharacteristically. This would allow us to resolve issues and do troubleshooting instead of opening a support case for these issues.
Some of the minor functionalities from SnapManager did not transfer over to SnapCenter. These should be added in future releases. I know that NetApp is currently working on this.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It is very stable. But if you have a bigger Microsoft environment, there are issues sometimes mostly caused by MS updates.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
There are no limitations on the scalability for customers with their environment size. We currently have about ten customers using this solution with the biggest installation containing up to 40 servers.
How is customer service and technical support?
We have been very satisfied with the technical support's help. Their knowledge level is great. For a noncritical question, they will get back to us within a day.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is straightforward and easy. If you are familiar with the products and know what to do, it's quite straightforward.
What about the implementation team?
We do our customer implementations. We use our customer requirements with their RPOs and RTOs, then find out which plugins of SnapCenter that we should use for them. If it is an installation of servers, then we do some testing of the functionalities, backup, and restoring of their test environments. Afterwards, we implement their production systems and documentation.
It took about five or six of us to do the deployment (including installation and configuration) of the client's SnapCenter server and storage.
Our implementation strategy depends somewhat on the implementation strategy of the company who we are doing the implementing for. The time frame for deployment depends on the environment size, number of servers, etc. It can take from one month from the beginning of the project to the production. However, we also had one company, where we had to write a lot of documentation and do a lot testing, which lasted around nine months.
Companies tend to maintain their own SnapCenters. Some companies can maintain it with one person depending on their policies. It usually takes ten people in bigger companies to manage their parts of the storage with SQL admins, storage admins, and network admins.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The licensing is well-designed because it's already included in some packages with NetApp storage. Therefore, for most customers, it's okay as the SnapCenter license is already included in some NetApp bundles, making it cheaper to use SnapCenter as a second solution.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I have also used Veeam, Dell EMC NetWorker, Commvault, and HPE Data Protector. I have worked with these solutions for installations.
The problem with SnapCenter is not the backup solution. While it can help with backup and quick restore, our customers use SnapCenter (the previous version: SnapManager) as an additional tool for backup, not as the primary backup. We have no customer using SnapCenter as a primary backup.
Which version of this solution are you currently using?
2 and 3