Vembu BDR Suite Review

Provides automated backup of multiple virtual machines but setup can be problematic

What is our primary use case?

Backing up virtual machines, we use it for Windows Hyper-V platform in one data center, but we've also got future plans for a VMware Hypervisor platform in another data center. So thinking ahead, we chose Vembu.

How has it helped my organization?

It hasn't improved things, per se. It's an essential service, done automatically. I would say it is an essential backup system that matches the alternative solutions at the moment in a relatively cost-effective way.

What is most valuable?

The automated backup of multiple virtual machines. We can back up two hypervisors, one is Microsoft Hyper-V and the other one is VMware Hypervisor.

What needs improvement?

It is very easy, unless you know exactly what you're doing, to corrupt the virtual machines and they get locked up. Just brief detail: When you are creating a system, if you don't have absolutely every other little background processes in place, it creates Snapshots of the virtual machines. Once it does that, it then won't be able to have a backup. From that point on you have to destroy the virtual machine, which is completely counterproductive on a large system. There is a fundamental flaw in the setup that can be very dangerous, potentially. So that needs to be avoided; whoever writes the software for doing that needs to make sure that that cannot happen.

I have fed that back to the developers. I don't know whether they're going to make that change, but they can't put that responsibility onto customers. It's their software that needs to be able to not allow that to happen. I've not had any response to say, "Yes, we'll do it." So that's a little bit of a fault as well. When we do give feedback we don't get any commitment. Like this survey, we're being asked the questions, but when we give feedback, we don't actually get any response at all.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

When it's backing up, it's okay. We've used it to restore the system and that restore system worked. We get an email report on various operations, so we know if something has failed or not. It's operating fine.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've not encountered any trouble with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their tech support is okay, but they don't respond in time to sort out the problem. We sorted it out ourselves. We fed back the answer. There wasn't any thank you. There wasn't any acknowledgment. There wasn't even any appreciation of what we'd actually done, something like, "Yeah, yeah, you shouldn't have done that." That kind of thing. Very basic support. There is a willingness to help and respond, but in actually solving the problem, they're not very good at all.

Then, once we did solve it, there was no understanding of what had been done, so it's at that level that it is lacking. This issue was over New Year's time. I was actually on holiday in India. I had to waste a whole day rebuilding a system from a corrupt backup. And again, no support from the Vembu guys, at all. Once we showed them what had been done, again, no acknowledgment that they'd safeguard this in the future.

It has been several months now and I'm not in a position to be chasing them to improve the product in that way. So it's still there, in potential, for future Vembu customers to hit the problem that we had and they might not be as tolerant or be able to fix it. We're an IT company ourselves, so we do understand the nature of the software that they're running and the problems, but there are major flaws in the design at set up time.

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

We haven't actually switched. We do use Microsoft Azure backup systems. We've used our own online backup systems. We've used in-built data center backup solutions a well, so there are a number of solutions. All of them have their weak points. The Vembu one is working and it's stable.

How was the initial setup?

We had problems, initially in setting it up. There was a major bug and the backup process, it corrupted one of our virtual machines which was a live customer system. That wasn't very good. Now that has been sorted and we know how to avoid it, but at the beginning, it wasn't a good system. It has been fixed and it has been working fine since.

It was supposed to be straightforward but it caused major technical issues that were difficult to fix. They were actually unfixable, the problems. We had to basically destroy live production systems.

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

Pricing is a good value.

Licensing seems okay. I suppose the more volume you put through the system, it would be good to have a volume licensing discount. We're a managed IT service provider, so we're backing up not just our own systems but all our clients'. In that regard, as we grow, we're putting business through Vembu. There is not any specific partner incentive at all. So that would be nice to see.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Microsoft Azure. I can't remember the others but there were a few; the data center ones, but I haven't got specific names. The in-built ones in VMware.

When you do a search on Google about half a dozen pop up and we looked at some of them. With some of them were put off by their business models. So even before we evaluated them, their business models weren't acceptable. The nice thing about Vembu is the subscription, on a monthly basis. It fits into our business models.

What other advice do I have?

I would tell others looking into implementing this solution exactly what steps need to be done in the setup. I've actually documented it, and I've passed that on to the Vembu guys. Take that, and make sure that things are set up very clearly, not, "There you go, it's very straightforward, it'll take you five minutes." It's not like that at all. The marketing of the setup is so misleading. It can cause a lot of problems. They need to be more honest in the way things need to be set up. That would be okay, that doesn't put people off when you have to go through a process. But just saying it's straightforward and it's simple is a bit of a lie, especially if it causes a lot of problems. So there needs to be more documentation on exactly what to set up in what order, and how to do it and what not to do.

Regarding technical support, sometimes, if you pick the wrong time of day to get through you get this constant "We value your business, we're busy at the moment..." and you can be on the phone for ages because it gets redirected to America. You get the feeling that they're not actually busy, they just have some automated lady giving you a message. Again, that engenders mistrust in the technology. It needs to be not advertised as 24/7. It needs to be advertised with the specific hours that support can be provided. That would help a lot, not just saying 24/7 and then not actually providing it.

It goes to America, but it is actually answered in India. It's all confusing. If it's 3 o'clock in India, we understand that they'll be asleep, so why not say we operate at these times, and people will understand that, rather than pretending redirect to an American number, where you're expecting somebody to pick up the phone. But they're picking it up from India at 3 o'clock in the morning. It's forced us to be hanging on to the phone for a long time, while nobody has got any intention of picking up the phone.

In terms of my rating of the solution, I have to do so on two levels. The first is the implementation and that would be a two out of 10. It was bad. But in terms of once it's operating, I would give it a nine.

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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Abdul Khader Jeelani (Vembu Technologies Inc)

We would like to thank you for your comprehensive feedback and also needless to say that this detailed feedback will help us understand where we stand and what we need to do in terms of our offering. We are continuously making enhancements to Vembu BDR Suite so that it covers most of the use-cases in any data center. Right now, our R&D team is working on an approach to backup Hyper-V VM having checkpoints without affecting the production environment and the same will be available in any one of our upcoming releases. With regards to your feedback regarding our support team, we have taken this to support head and he has assured of FTR for such issues and also a proper RCA as well. While the support team does operate 24*7, there might have been few rare occurrences thus causing a reason for your concern. We have taken note of your entire feedback and we also thank you for taking time to write us amidst your hectic schedule.