What is our primary use case?
The primary use for this solution is to replace the old-fashioned backup solution that we had that was based at the application level. I was doing backups of an SQL database or mailboxes from Exchange, but we needed a more modern solution where we could back up the entire virtual machine.
How has it helped my organization?
The solution is used for taking a backup of the virtual environment, and the benefit of this is that the speed is a lot higher. The product is taking a full backup during the weekend and takes considerably less time than our old solution. During workdays, it's doing an incremental back up every three hours, and that is also a lot faster. It also gives me a lot of options on which restore point I should use, in case I need to restore something. So these are huge benefits for the organization, speed and multiple restore points, that we didn't have in the past.
Another benefit is that the whole process is running at the ESXi level so the users do not really experience any delays or any lack of performance. We just keep them going, using the infrastructure, the VMware infrastructure. In the past, that was not the case because, during the backup process, it was slowing down the server because the server itself was executing the backup. Now, another server and another hypervisor are executing the job and the end-user does not experience anything as a result of the process. It is going on in the background. No delays at all.
In terms of data protection, we are not using disaster recovery because we are not licensed for it. But given the fact that we can afford the few hours the restore is going to take us, it is reducing costs, and the maintenance we used to have of switching tapes and external drives. All that kind of stuff that we had in the past has now been eliminated.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features for me are that I can back up the entire virtual machine, but when restoring I can restore at the file level.
What needs improvement?
One issue that we are facing is that, during the evaluation period, we had some jobs that were replicating three virtual machines from one ESXi to another. Then, during the license purchase and activation, that Replication functionality was disabled because we are not licensed for it. As a result, we have one job left, the replication job that we were running, but since we don't have access to that area of the product we now, we are unable to delete that job. I need assistance on how to unlist that job.
Otherwise, we have no issues. It's functioning as expected and we're getting the results that we were expecting from the product.
For how long have I used the solution?
Less than one year.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
A couple of times, the Vembu server was stuck and we couldn't access the web interface of the server and we had to restart the server. But that was during the migration progress where a lot of the equipment was updated and changing, so we cannot blame the product itself. Since the environment stabilized, we haven't faced any issues at all with the product.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We haven't encountered any issues with scalability. We gave it fewer resources than the server needs. Initially, we configured it with 16 gigs and then we cut it in half, giving it just 8 gigs, and the system is still performing and acting stably and within our needs and expectations.
Our building hosts around six companies. Currently, the product is used only for one hypervisor and one of the companies but the plan is to expand: First, the licensing for more hypervisors, and second, to expand the enterprise solution because we might need to use the Replication function that we are not using at the moment.
How is customer service and technical support?
Their technical support is excellent. The speed at which those guys are replying is like chatting through email. They reply immediately and, in most of the cases, they have the answer available right away. It is very acceptable and we appreciate that.
Which solutions did we use previously?
We were using Symantec Veritas Backup but it was an old-fashioned solution - at least the version that we were using. It was doing backups on the level of application, taking a backup of a database or directory structure or the like. We switched to Vembu because it allows us to back up the entire virtual infrastructure and then we minimize the downtime in case of an emergency or a failure.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was straightforward because it was an appliance. We downloaded an already-installed and already-working virtual machine which is acting as a backup server. There were minor issues to connect it to our local network and set up some iSCSI drives and volumes, etc., but it was next to nothing when compared with having to install it from scratch.
We downloaded the virtual appliance, activated it, and then configured the network interfaces. After that, we connected the server to our hypervisors and the system was up and running. The deployment took four hours.
We didn't use a third-party service provider at all. We directly contacted Vembu, and the back-office and support personnel were very helpful. Every issue was solved within hours.
What was our ROI?
In terms of money saved, it's hard to say because we need to calculate the man-hours that we spent on monitoring the old system, and the employees that had to visit the computer room and replace or change tapes, etc. So it's not that clear. But the fact that we were using an old solution for about 12 or 13 years, I expect the amount of money we will save is going to be huge.
We have only been using the product for two months in production now, so the return on investment is not easy to see in that short period. But I believe that it's not going to take more than the next six months to see a return on investment, considering the man-hours that we are saving, that we aren't spending any more monitoring an old backup system.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Pricing is fair enough.
What was not clear enough in the documentation on the website was that that you're licensing per CPU socket and you are only licensing on the restore sockets, not the backup sockets. It's a bit technical, but it was very well explained during the demonstration that we had during the evaluation period. The technician explained exactly how the licensing is working. That was information that I couldn't find on their site and it needed to be explained by their representative.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We had in mind to use another solution that was not based on Snapshots. It was based on replicating on the sub-second level of the VM virtual disks. Although it was compelling, and we considered that solution, it didn't have that direct access to information that the Vembu side was giving us.
To get a quotation on that product you needed to find a representative near you and have them do a quotation for you. It was not that direct and immediate. On the other hand, Vembu had all the pricing and documentation listed on their site, so we had all the information we needed. It was within the budget and we decided to test it. That's why we chose Vembu as our solution.
What other advice do I have?
Although Vembu doesn't seem to be very fast for some environments, for example, banking, because it's based on Snapshots, which is a rather slower procedure, it has been just fine. But I would evaluate another solution that is not based on Snapshots. I can for sure recommend Vembu if high-availability is not a requirement.
We are using the compression that is embedded in the system. We downloaded the Linux virtual appliance, Linux Ubuntu, and this appliance is now part of our live organization, it's a live system. The embedded compression system is very satisfactory and we didn't have to alter anything within it.
We didn't need to activate encryption because our infrastructure is only available within our local network, it's not available outside the firewall, and the destination drive is actually an iSCSI volume that is only accessible through the Vembu backup server. That's why we didn't need to encrypt our backups and possibly add delays to the whole procedure.
We don't use Microsoft Hyper-V, we only use VMware ESXi. The virtual environment that we're backing up through the Vembu solution is one ESXi that hosts three virtual machines. It's an end-to-end VMware solution. During the evaluation period, we also had the option to use the Replication function. We tested it and it's an option for the company to purchase, to upgrade the license to activate it, but this is going to be decided in the future.
The number of end-users using the functionality of the backup solution is around 70, but the end-users don't know it is being used. There are just two system administrators who use the Vembu console as administrators. One is full-time and the other one is part-time, so we need one-and-a-half people to run it. The maintenance is so minor. We just follow up on the emails the server sends saying that we successfully finished a job or that there was an issue. We then visit the web interface look at the reason for that failure - because the server was busy or the like. The maintenance is very easy.
I rate it at eight out of ten because, during the evaluation period, we had a server that was sizing at about 1.8 TB and the product took about 26 to 27 hours to restore it. So the slow restore is an issue. Eventually, we minimized the amount of data. Now, we are less than a terabyte, around 800 gig, so we expect the restore to take less time. But it's the slow restore that makes me give it an eight.
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.