IBM Spectrum Protect Overview

IBM Spectrum Protect is the #13 ranked solution in our list of best Backup and Recovery Software. It is most often compared to IBM Spectrum Protect Plus: IBM Spectrum Protect vs IBM Spectrum Protect Plus

What is IBM Spectrum Protect?
IBM Spectrum Protect (Tivoli Storage Manager) is a data protection platform that gives enterprises a single point of control and administration for backup and recovery. It is the flagship product in the IBM Spectrum Protect (Tivoli Storage Manager) family. It enables reliable, cost effective backups and fast recovery for virtual, physical and cloud environments of all sizes.

IBM Spectrum Protect is also known as IBM TSM, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.

IBM Spectrum Protect Buyer's Guide

Download the IBM Spectrum Protect Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2021

IBM Spectrum Protect Customers
CERN, Einstein Healthcare, Nyherji, Allianz Australia, TZM, ABT Online, NCT, Kindred Healthcare Inc., Cobalt Iron, TransGrid, Baptist Health of Northeast Florida, Cash America, Piedmont Healthcare, RWGV, Arkansas Tech University, British Columbia Institute of Technology
IBM Spectrum Protect Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about IBM Spectrum Protect pricing:
  • "We have capacity licensing. We use the front end. The capacity licensing is pretty okay on the licensing price. I used to use the old PVU-based licensing in the early environment, but now we use capacity-based licensing."
  • "IBM provides an open license policy, which is more like a gentlemen's agreement."
  • "One can go with either a PVU licensing model or a capacity based licensing model. Either solution does not block the usage, if over used."
  • "I don't have an idea about the pricing. They send that over to someone else, but I know that one of the issues they had was the licensing costs. I don't think they were happy with how they were charged."

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MT
Data Protection Specialist at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Great stability, reliability, and scalability, but very difficult to manage and get support

What is our primary use case?

We use it for normal file system backups, database backups for Microsoft SQL, and VM image backups. We also use it for the backup of the Sybase database, which is an important backup for us. Sybase is the database for the SAP ERP systems. These are business-critical systems. IBM doesn't provide its own data protection agent for Sybase. Therefore, we are taking Sybase backups by using the built-in API from SAP. We utilize Sybase ASE, which contains the API and allows us to connect with the TSM of IBM Spectrum Protect. We are currently on an older version, but we are going to upgrade to 8.1.9… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "The backup of Sybase databases is the most valuable feature in the existing environment. They have got the most documentation out there on the internet for its software protection. The documentation is excellent, and there are a lot of blogs, websites. Because it's still one of the oldest products out there for data protection, there are also lots of people who have a lot of experience in using this solution."
  • "It is not easy to manage like other products in the market. It is okay only if you are command-line driven. Even though the operation center is there, it doesn't provide a single view of everything. You have to, for example, use TSMManager on top of it, which gives you a far better management capability, but it is a third-party product. Its management needs to be improved. There should be an HTML or graphical interface. It is a very difficult product. For example, you have a backup policy where you want a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly policy standard. It is an old kind of system where you have to keep retention for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly backups, which is very difficult in IBM Spectrum Protect. In other products, in a matter of five minutes, you can configure such a policy. In TSM, it takes you one, two, or three days because you need to configure a node for each of them. If you have 250 nodes, you have to configure each node for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly retention. If you have 1,000 nodes, it is going to take you ages just to configure and register the nodes. You need to configure the schedule and the CAD daemons or services, depending on whether it is a Unix or Windows OS. Unfortunately, it is a very long and drawn-out process. You have to stop and start the services for changes to take effect. This is a very difficult part of TSM in IBM Spectrum Protect. To configure a backup policy, I should be able to select the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly options in one screen and finish it. After that, everything should happen in the background. All the backup products in the market already do that, and they are very simple to manage. This particular part of this solution has really been a major pain area for us, and unfortunately, we could not find a workaround. There is nobody at IBM who can give us a way to configure all this easily through a GUI or even scripts."

What other advice do I have?

The IBM shops would use it because it fits very nicely into an IBM environment, but even with the VM capabilities, it is more difficult to configure and support as compared to other solutions in the market. If you look at other solutions, even your IBM ProtecTIER, for example, would be a data protection appliance. I could mix and match technologies, but I think other products are easier to manage. There are many third-party products that do it all. TSMManager is really excellent for managing a multi TSM server environment. If you have got 10 or 20 TSM servers, you cannot manage them natively…
Harold Morales
Technical Manager at Optimize It
Real User
Top 20
Provides us with the scalability and growth that we need

What is our primary use case?

We're working with different versions of this solution. We have different versions deployed for multiple clients. The latest version is 8.1.11. We have a mixture of legacy environments and new environments. Our client's use cases are mainly to protect heterogeneous workloads, virtualized workloads, physical workloads, databases, SAP solutions, and ERP solutions. It's great for large, heterogeneous environments. Spectrum Protect has a lot of different agents and components that allow you to completely backup your entire environment. I am a technical team leader for this solution. I have an… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "It's very robust and has been on the market for a long time."
  • "The reporting could be better."

What other advice do I have?

My advice to potential users would be to follow the IBM Spectrum Protect blueprints. These documents are very valuable and informative. They'll provide you with a lot of needed advice. They'll also provide you with a forewarning regarding situations that can occur during the implementation process. Sometimes people completely skip over these blueprints and go ahead with the implementation — my take is: don't . Make sure to leverage all of the new features that this product offers. For example, many people don't bother using the retention feature; however, this feature is great for reducing…
Learn what your peers think about IBM Spectrum Protect. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2021.
513,091 professionals have used our research since 2012.
TJ
Network Systems Analyst III at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Instead of taking three different backups of your systems, you're taking only one but their support is lacking

What is our primary use case?

We have two data centers, we have two Spectrum Protect servers, and we do cross replicating between them. The main use case is AIX. Because AIX is an IBM product, they have their backup software for it, for SysBack and things of that nature that most other companies don't get into because there are not a lot of companies that use AIX. Bigger federal government companies use AIX but AIX is a big one that always hampers us. That's why the business, over the last several years, we've been trying to encourage them to go into the VMware arena. We're using a lot of different products in VMware that… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "Instead of taking three different backups of your systems, you're taking only one. You're able to crack that open and get what you need. The incident recovery, where it creates the VM and then you're running it, technically you're running it on Spectrum Protect. But then in the background, it's doing the storage motion and moving it off the Spectrum Protect back to your VMware environment. The users don't know the difference."
  • "Their support is lacking. I've talked to their developers and stuff in the last couple of weeks and they reassure me that some people have retired, and they're working on getting that bumped back up. But the support lacks a lot to be desired at this point."

What other advice do I have?

I would say partner up with a business partner, someone who does it day in and day out because installing the application or the server is not something you do every day as a customer. As a customer, you do that once in a blue moon. A business partner is constantly doing these installations over and over so they've got it down fairly well. I would say partner up with someone who can help you through it. Support's not going to do a whole lot with you as far as installing it. That's not really what they're there for. They're there to troubleshoot issues. A business partner's there to hold your…
SL
Unix / AIX System Administration at a construction company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Flexible with good data versioning and great stability

What is our primary use case?

The solution is primarily used for backup and restore and also for DR, for Data Recovery in case of a disaster. We are using replication from two servers, the Spectrum Servers, so they replicate on each other. We are using it for backing up remote sites also. Basically, all the machines are downloading their backup to the Spectrum Server and from then on we are moving that data to tape units so we can have outside data of the building.

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the main things that I like about IBM is the versioning of the data - meaning that we can have multiple versions of a file or directory of a server."
  • "It would be helpful if the solution included some sort of ransomware protection."

What other advice do I have?

We are customers and end-users. We have the Enterprise version of IBM Protect. It's not the Plus version. My advice is not specifically for IBM Spectrum, but for any product. I would say, sit down and think about it. Think about what you want to do. There are so many options in any software. It's like getting house insurance. What do you want to do, how do you want to insure your data? It's important to understand what you want so you can see if the solutions you are looking at actually have the required capabilities. I would rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It's a very good product…
MO
Senior Storage Architect at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 10
Extremely scalable with great GUI and easy to use

What is our primary use case?

Our clients use it for consolidated backup and mostly for guests on the VM.

Pros and Cons

  • "Their GUI has improved quite a bit. It's made the solution a lot simpler and less complex."
  • "They took some of the funding off of it for a while. Therefore, instead of being a market leader, they took their position for granted. Then some competitors developed new bells and whistles that they advertise, and due to that lag a few years ago, there are not the resources to explain the differences."

What other advice do I have?

I'm a reseller and a system architect. I'm not really a user. I'm a project manager and architect. However, we have people on our team that use and install it. We're using the current version of the solution. I'd advise other companies to not forget tape. With ransomware and everything else, it's hard. People forget tape is cheap. Tape gives you an air-gap, and, if you properly use it, you get a good hybrid solution. Many people think it's disk only, and that's just for yesterday's restore, however, for a long-term solution, tape is so much more cost-effective. I'd rate the solution eight out…
Tomas-Dalebjörk
IT Architect at CGI
Real User
Top 5
Faster restores as only one full backup is needed to restore

What is our primary use case?

Protecting infrastructures and applications. We have infrastructures and applications that must be online. Some has archiving requirements that need to store data using longer retention due to legal or other requirements. With Spectrum Protect, you can adjust this to your needs. We use this to fine tune our business requirements for the data, where we can save shorter data retention data on a storage pool with faster performance and save archiving on a storage pool with tapes to keep cost lower.

Pros and Cons

  • "SPIR is Instant Recovery for Spectrum Protect. It sends snapshots using space efficiently and blocking backups to the Spectrum Protect server. It provisions the snapshot from the backup server to the same or new server near instantly."
  • "Replication services would be nice. If these could be enhanced to be always on so multiple storage backup services could be added as a cluster pool. This would provide a better availability service."

What other advice do I have?

The perfect solution with a robust, scalable, open architecture. Many additional plugins are available on the Global Solution Directory.
JD
Spectrum Protect Specialist at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 10
Extremely flexible, customizable, and easy to automate

What is our primary use case?

We primarily provide this solution to our customers. They mostly use the solution for backup and recovery purposes.

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution offers very good flexibility."
  • "The solution needs to work on disaster recovery integration. Basically, VMware applications to the cloud, for example. There needs to be integration with the storage, and integration with VMware."

What other advice do I have?

We're an IBM partner. I would advise companies to use it for small environments that need a simple solution. I would also advise it for very large environments over a petabyte for flexibility. For the midsize company, I'm not sure if I would advise it as that's where you get into that sweat show. You need complex features, however, you don't really have the complex knowledge. For a mid-sized company, that's where the problems lie. I'd rate the solution nine out of ten. There's always room for improvement. If they shift to a little more simplicity, it might help. There are other products out…
MA
Storage administrator at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 10
Makes backing up the GSF as a zero-file system easier and has good stability, but needs to be improved for large file systems with many files

What is our primary use case?

We have a very small footprint. We only use it to back up a couple of servers that we could not move over at this time. I only use it to back up two servers and very large academic systems and number cruncher systems, which isn't the best way to do that, but we do use MN backup with it. Previously, we used to use Spectrum Protect for disaster recovery (DR), but we don't use it for disaster recovery anymore.

Pros and Cons

  • "The MN backup for a cluster is most valuable because it has made backing up the GSF as a zero-file system easier. I like its stability a lot. Over the years, I very rarely had a problem with it."
  • "It can be improved for large file systems with many files. Spectrum Protect can restore large files very well, but if you're restoring millions of little files, it is not as great. At one point, we tried to implement the VMware module with it, and it was awful and terrible. I don't know if that has improved. If it hasn't, this would be one big improvement."

What other advice do I have?

You would really have to implement it. It is very stable, but it is complicated. You really need to get a staff member or a good consultant who knows it fairly well. I would rate IBM Spectrum Protect a seven out of ten for functionality. I am biased because I know it so well. Over the years, we did really well with disaster recovery with it, but that was the old way of sending tapes down to Iron Mountain and the Sterling Forest site in New York. I always made it work, but that was stressful.
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