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IBM Spectrum Protect OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

IBM Spectrum Protect is the #12 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: October 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."

IBM Spectrum Protect Reviews

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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

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 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 very soon.

What is most valuable?

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.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for the last 12 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. Stability-wise, IBM Spectrum Protect is among the best. It doesn't crash like Data Domain. It is not unsteady, and it doesn't become unstable. Once it is configured correctly on the right hardware, it will run pretty well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is definitely scalable. We are a service provider for another company, which has about 2,000 to 3,000 users. 

For its deployment and maintenance, we have 18 team members. We have 24/7 support. We have a couple of L3s, and the rest of them are L1s and L2s. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support staff is not the best. They are among the lowest in the whole market. They never want to come for a WebEx meeting and always ask for logs. When the logs don't reveal anything, they ask for traces, which is a big hassle again because you have to do many things. After you upload the traces, they are not able to find anything. The case goes on for weeks. From weeks, it goes to months, and sometimes, you have to escalate to just get something simple fixed. 

IBM support is very difficult. They have improved everything. The documentation is excellent, but when it comes to the support, they just don't want to get into a WebEx meeting. They don't want to help you online. Commvault or other companies would just jump into a WebEx meeting, simply look at this stuff, and quickly fix the problem in no time. I don't know why they are resistant to getting on a WebEx meeting. No other backup vendor out there says no to this. It may be because they have a lot of work, and they're busy, or they don't feel that they can solve it quickly enough. It could be because the product is like this, and the support can't support or fix it quickly.

They should be able to quickly get to the root cause, but they take forever to get back to us on certain issues. We can read a lot of literature out there. There are a lot of pros out there, but the problem is that the support guys themselves should be like those guys. Their certain messages are so cryptic that we don't even know what to do. They are hard to understand. I ran into a migration problem the other day, and they were just asking for more logs, which was causing issues in production because the pools were filling up. Technical support has to be really quick these days.

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

In the past, I have extensively used Oracle's RMAN backups. I have also used snapshot and FlashCopy Manager a lot for critical systems.

In our own data centers, we had IBM Spectrum Protect, and then we migrated away from them. We are now only supporting those customers who are running this environment. If you look at some of the companies where we are supporting IBM Spectrum Protect, they have been an IBM shop for very long, mostly because their systems are on IBM. Most of their infrastructure is IBM and their software is IBM, so they will naturally go for IBM Spectrum Protect to protect their infrastructure.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

The initial implementation was done by a third-party vendor who was an IBM partner. I don't think it took long. It took a few hours.

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

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.

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. It is difficult to switch from one to another. You can always connect them and then jump from one to the other. You have that option, but it is easier if you have one UI sitting on top of them all, like a single management layer. IBM does not provide it. I have heard something is coming out in version nine or ten, which is going to change a lot of things, but I am not very sure.

I would rate IBM Spectrum Protect a seven out of ten. There are many good things about it, such as stability, reliability, and scalability, but it is tough in terms of manageability and things like that. Its support is also not good.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Harold Morales
Technical Manager at Optimize It
Real User
Provides us with the scalability and growth that we need

Pros and Cons

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

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 implementation team who work side by side with me. From the customer-side, there is a team of roughly six people working with it. There are administrators, backup operators, and technical managers that work with us and this solution. In total, the organization has roughly 6,000 employees. It's a large organization by Colombian standards. 

How has it helped my organization?

IBM Spectrum Protect provides us with the scalability and growth that we need. It is suitable for very large environments. It's very robust and has been on the market for a long time.

Here's an example of how this solution has improved our client's organization: There is a customer in the banking sector here in Colombia — the private banking sector. They had two terabytes of information backed up daily, in incremental backups from a different number of file servers. Those file servers were being backed up daily. At the end of the month, the customer backed up the data completely. In short, they made a full backup of all the data  on a monthly basis. It was roughly 20 terabytes of data. To cope with this situation we implemented retention sets. Thanks to these retention sets, the customer doesn't need to back up that 20 terabytes of information monthly. They can just resort to the incremental backups that they made before, daily, to have a snapshot and an accurate picture of the end of the month. They only have to do another incremental backup for the last day of the month, and that's it; they have a complete, very robust picture for the monthly data. 

This has reduced our customers' backup time by a considerable amount. They have also reduced the amount of storage space needed as they are not repeating backups every month. The data is 90% the same, month to month, which has optimized both speed and storage capacity.

What is most valuable?

One of the more recent features that we value the most, being an influencer myself, there is feature we call retention sets. These retention sets are snapshots of previously backed-up data. This data no longer needs to be backed up again so there's no need to re-back up that information, to reinject that data. It allows us to offer, improve, and optimize the use of storage resources for our customers. We implemented this solution for a number of clients here in Colombia and throughout Latin America.

Also, Spectrum Protect has what is one of the greatest ecosystems of experts, users, forums and in general learning resources in the data protection realm.

What needs improvement?

The reporting could be better. There's not a complete solution for reporting; however, there is a solution that allows you to write SQL queries. This way, you can explore the databases with metadata and get the reports that you want. Still, that's not an out-of-the-box solution, it's just a tool that allows you to write queries as you need. There is a steep learning curve for that.

I would also love to see more agents and solutions devoted to backing up other workloads, especially in regard to non-traditional databases.

The licensing can be a pain to manage. There is a tool that can provide you with automated reports regarding how much licensing you're using, but sometimes it's not accurate. You need to contact an IBM representative in order to get the correct information. 

Traditionally, there has been a Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments module that allows you to protect virtualized environments; however, it's not easy to use. It's very complex. In this case, my advice is to leverage Spectrum Protect Plus, which is the newest addition to the portfolio to back up both virtualized and modern workloads and works very well.


For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working with Spectrum Protect for the last 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think that it's the most scalable solution in the market. That's the reason why the largest enterprises in Colombia use it. Speaking as an expert on these types of solutions, there is no other solution that can support the size of workloads, components, and servers required for very large environments. I don't think it's just a matter of scalability, but also performance, too.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM technical support has been pretty good so far. We were given a technical point of contact for every inquiry that we had during the implementation process. My team has a lot of expertise now, but every now and again, we require some support from IBM. Their support has helped us get this solution working precisely as we need. Overall, regarding IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM support has been great. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup might be complex. There are a lot of different nuances that need to be taken into account; however, with the help from an experienced team, the product can be deployed seamlessly.

Years ago, it took us roughly three to four months to implement this solution — mainly due to the amount of maintenance and the number of components that also need to be deployed. Security concerns also need to be addressed and resolved from the client-side. All of this made it quite difficult.  Now that we leverage IBM Spectrum Protect blueprints that are available publicly, to reduce implementation time down to a couple of weeks, sometimes even a couple of days. This has allowed us to stay competitive in what is a very competitive market.

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

Spectrum Protect Plus, a complementary solution to Spectrum Protect, comes bundles in some licensing schemes together with Spectrum Protect. This has allowed us to reach all sorts of customers. It allows our clients to get a hold of virtualization technology, including backup and recovery, and instant restore. These are features are needed in today's rapidly changing environments.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When Spectrum Protect is not suitable for a customer's environment, we always recommend backup replication solutions. Backup replication solutions are much easier to manage as they don't require a steep learning curve. Backup replication solutions are a great fit for small to medium-sized businesses, but for large corporations, large enterprises, or large companies, my choice is Spectrum Protect.

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 storage and also improves the backup speed regarding operations. Don't be intimidated by these features. Contact and experienced team that can help you out to get the most out of the solution.

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give his solution a rating of eight — it's a proven solution.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Implementer
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Learn what your peers think about IBM Spectrum Protect. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
542,823 professionals have used our research since 2012.
TJ
Network Systems Analyst III at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Instead of taking three different backups of your systems, you're taking only one but their support is lacking

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 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 are able to recover things very quickly, versus Spectrum Protect and AIX, you have to drop down the OS, then you have to restore the database, and then you have to roll the logs forward.

All of that takes time, whereas in VMware you can take snapshots, or you can use products like Zerto. We have Zerto in-house where we're doing asynchronous replication from our primary site to our DR site. Our VMware systems that are being protected by Zerto are seconds behind the production world. We're running anywhere from four seconds to 11 seconds behind, whereas in AIX, you have from that last backup. You may be eight hours behind. It's challenges like that, that we run into, that I'm always on the lookout for. I've been using Spectrum Protect since it was TSM for 17 years, but I'm not tied to it. There are other products out there that make your life a lot easier. As far as the data protection admin or business continuity, whatever you want to call the title they have out there, but those are challenges that we run into. And so that's where we're going, but it's just going to take some time to get there.

What is most valuable?

In the past, we've always been uploading our stuff to tape. We now have disc-based solutions, and those disc-based solutions, one of the neat features of them is when you use what they call TSM for VE, Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environment, you're able to crack those snapshots open and are able to do file-level recoveries out of them. It gives you the ability to get rid of some file-level backups that you're using and gives you the ability to get rid of some SQL data protection backups. 

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. 

Those are nice really features that we really use. And it's really been helpful since we've gone to an all disc-based solution.

What needs improvement?

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.

Their backups are once a day, they're not doing asynchronous replication. They're doing a one time a night backup. So whereas products like Zerto, every time there's a change in a block, it's immediately written across. They're not doing replication instantaneous, they're doing it once a day. There is a lot to be desired there.

For how long have I used the solution?

At the company that I'm at now, they've had it since 2004. I've been here since 2010. I used it at my prior company, and I've been using it for 17 years in total.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

My impression currently is that stability is not very good. I'm constantly babysitting it. I'm working with IBM right now to do an assessment to hopefully pinpoint if our systems are truly undersized. And if they are, then that's not a reflection on the application. That's a reflection on us purchasing undersized equipment. If it's not, then that's a reflection on the application not performing correctly.

I'll give them a seven out of 10. They've got their niche. The two shops I've worked at have been big AIX shops, and that kept them in there.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's definitely scalable. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Support is retiring, they move on, and they just don't have the expertise. I've spoken to some duty managers and they've even told me that they lost a lot of people and that they are trying to rebuild that up, and it takes time. I understand it takes time, but as a customer, I don't have the luxury of saying, "Hey, I'm going to leave my system down for a couple of months because support's working on beefing back up."

How was the initial setup?

I would rate the initial setup on the medium side. It's not totally complex, but there are a lot of moving parts to it. I would give it a medium.

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 hand and walk you through getting it installed and set up and running.

In the next release, I would like to see better protect storage pool and node replication.

I would rate IBM Spectrum Protect as a whole a seven out of ten. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

IBM allows for the versioning of the data, allowing us to have multiple versions of a file or directory of a server. 

What is most valuable?

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. I could have 10 versions of one file and that file I could keep for as long as I want.

There is the archive for a version of the solution which gave us the opportunity to have, let's say, one full backup every month for a long period of time. Its archiving offers us good flexibility.

The solution is very stable.

We've found the scalability to be very good.

The initial implementation is straightforward for the most part.

What needs improvement?

The pricing is a bit high. It would be ideal if it was more affordable.

Generally, everything is changing so fast within the product, it's hard to pinpoint what needs to be changed or what is missing. The solution is constantly evolving.

It would be helpful if the solution included some sort of ransomware protection.

The only thing that I haven't tried yet is using it with VMware. I haven't done any tests on it. Let's say that I want to restore a VM, virtual machine, and I would like to access it in a short period of time. This is something that Veeam, for example, is doing. Veeam will permit you to start a VM and start working with it and restore only what is needed to do a prompt work. If it's possible to have the same functionality on this product, that would be ideal.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution since it was called under a different name. I've used it for about 20 or so years at this point. It's been two decades. It's been a while. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. There are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. Its performance is excellent.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution is very good. A company can expand the solution if it needs to.

IBM Spectrum is used in the data center and we don't have too many users that would use the backup facilities. Everything is centralized to enter the data center.

We are not fully using the solution to its full potential at this time. I'm not sure if there are plans to increase usage. We're looking into other options to see if we can get better user-friendly functionality and better pricing.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've been in touch with technical support. They are very good. We haven't had any issues with them. They are helpful and responsive. Every time I've talked to them, they've solved our problems.

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

We also currently use Veeam.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is simple. You just click and follow the instruction. Where the complexity is coming up is when you decide how you want to do your backup and restore. Like any other software you have to decide how you want to do it and understand what's going on behind the scene. 

The deployment itself, with my experience, doesn't take long due to the fact that I know the product. That said, for someone that does not know the product, I would say, it will take, just to understand how it works about a week.

We have two or three people on staff that can handle any maintenance required. They are all systems administrators. 

What about the implementation team?

In the beginning, we had a consultant as it was a very long time ago and we did not have the knowledge we have now. However, today I would not deal with anybody from IBM. We have the capabilities we need. 

In general, at the time, we had a good experience working with them.

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

While it's my understanding that the solution is expensive, I do not directly handle the licensing and therefore cannot speak to how much the company actually pays to use the solution.

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. It's strong. It's stable. The company's good.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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MO
Senior Storage Architect at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 20
Extremely scalable with great GUI and easy to use

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 is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

The solution significantly improves a client's restoration times. They also do complete backups now. Some of the things clients used before couldn't really provide complete backups. In that sense, it's been great for organizations.

What is most valuable?

The solution actually does a lot. It's really powerful. The value of Spectrum Protect is it does everything. It does tape and it does disk. It's easy to migrate. You don't need any other software. It's basically an all-in-one solution, which is its most valuable aspect.

Their GUI has improved quite a bit. It's made the solution a lot simpler and less complex.

What needs improvement?

The solution has a Spectrum Protect Plus product, which is more for Windows-only VM. However, it doesn't really do tape. It requires IBM to do things to the Cloud, which adds costs. They're starting to integrate the products together. That said, right now, it's like two implementations, it's not one product.

We've tried to sell Protect Plus from time to time, however, then you need Protect if you want to do tape. It's kind of clunky. Once they integrate the products, it will be pretty powerful.

Spectrum Protect is still an industry-leading product across multiple operating systems. It still runs best on an AIX server and does remember Windows or Linux. The install base is more AIX as far as hosts because the AIX server is more powerful.

They should be able to integrate the products so that you don't have to do two system installs.

The solution should have a better way to deal with the system state files in Windows. They should do that better where it doesn't try to walk the file system and you have to use in image mode.

The experienced people still use the CLI. You shouldn't have to use a CLI to use this product.

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.

They're outsold. IBM is outsold because people do not understand the product and it had a reputation of being complex.  That said, with the new GUIs and other improvements, it's really pretty easy. The problem is they've got to deal with their old reputation of being difficult and complex. Still the GUI could still be more robust.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for 20 years now. It's been two decades.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. There are no issues with bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or fail. It's reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We work with all sizes of businesses from Fortune 100 insurance companies to small colleges and universities. We have all sorts of customers.

The scaling potential of the solution is huge. This is an enterprise solution compared to some of the smaller options. It also scales down when you do less than 100 terabytes. It has very favorable pricing. It's competitive with other products.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is not as good as it could be. It's not as good as some of the competitors. IBM has put more resources into it recently. However, they had a stage about two years ago where they kind-of stopped spending as much money on Protect due to the fact that they had so many other IBM products. 

Overall, I'd rate their technical services at seven out of ten. It's not too bad, however, it could be better. They are quite responsive. Now that IBM is more focused on improving the product it may improve as well.

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

I have some experience with Veeam as well. I really like it compared to Veeam. You don't have to have media servers. It's nice compared to Veeam that ­clients don't have to do a media server.

We've had customers who have used other solutions, however, they've been weak and not as scalable as IBM.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex. It's straightforward. It's easy.

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

The pricing is quite good and very competitive in the market.

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 of ten. It's a full-feature product. It's hard to be perfect with full-featured products. There are compromises due to the fact that they do so much.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
Tomas-Dalebjörk
IT Architect at CGI
Real User
Top 5
Faster restores as only one full backup is needed to restore

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

With Spectrum Protect, we were able to lower the TCO thanks to it always being incremental by design (progressive incremental forever).

Why back up data again if the data has not been changed? It has faster backups, as only changed content is sent and has less storage use.

Why restore the same content many times if you can just restore one backup?

  • Faster restores as only one full backup is needed to restore. With other competitors, you have to restore fully with all their incrementals.
  • We successfully lowered data storage due to its progressive incremental-forever by design (always incremental), plus its advanced data reduction techniques using deduplication with compression.
  • Backups are much faster, as only changed content is sent, especially if the journaling is added.
  • Restores are much faster too, as it only restore the objects needed. Other competitors restore objects from full backup, later restoring a more recent version of the object.

What is most valuable?

Progressive incremental-forever (always incremental):

SPFS is a file system for Spectrum Protect. A way to mount a Spectrum Protect storage pool as a mount point on your server for easier usage. With this one can protect any data using the Spectrum Protect storage.
Eg
# mount -t spfs /backup
# mysqldump > /backup/mysqldump.bkp

SPIR is Instant Recovery for Spectrum Protect. Take application consistent snapshots locally using, and sends snapshots data 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, so that applications can be started before all data has been copied back to original place.

What needs improvement?

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.

It would be great if the API could add functions to check storage pool details using the client-side API.

It would be great if there would be an API to add new licenses using the client-side API so the licenses can be reviewed using QUERY LICENSE. Then, new licenses could be added using the REGISTER LICENSE command.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than 20 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

the solution is stable and all the fixes and patches are well tested before rolled out. workarounds are being published if bugs exists early bug fixes can be shipped earlier for clients has emergent needs (eFix) change list is being published at each release

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

the solution scales frmo small setup to enterprise hosting many thousands of clients. Competitors need more resourses, as it has difficulty to host the inventories, of manage the amount of data If needed, one can add storage agents, which can be used to off load data transfer, so that the data goes over these agents, instead of being sent to a central server

How are customer service and technical support?

support is great

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

We previously used Dell EMC NetWorker and switched because:

  • More storage was needed to manage data protection.
  • It was more difficult to manage traffics, as it uses RPC, and more ports needed to be opened in the firewall.
  • The solutions sometimes does not respond on "push/pull requests".

How was the initial setup?

being working with ADSM, TSM, Spectrum Protect for several years, and the setup becomes more easier nowadays

What about the implementation team?

we used an in-house team

What was our ROI?

By changing to this solution, we saved not only a lot of license costs, but also 450% storage cost (without space reduction techniques) + 450% additional using space reduction techniques

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and 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.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

NetBackup.

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.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JD
Spectrum Protect Specialist at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 20
Extremely flexible, customizable, and easy to automate

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 is our primary use case?

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

What is most valuable?

The solution offers very good flexibility. 

It's huge. You can do almost everything with it. It's very programmable, customizable, and automatable. It supports a lot of operating systems and a lot of applications. It's very versatile. It's maybe the most versatile on the market.

What needs improvement?

The solution is used to support newer client types for backup for cloud-based software as a service, mail as a service, things like that, and hyper-converged systems. That's what they intended Spectrum Protect Plus for. They need to make sure it continues to cater to these clients.

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. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution since 2003. That's 17 years at this point.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is huge. It's maybe the most scalable backup of all products on the market. It's in the petabytes per server. They have the best tape libraries per square meter and capacity per square meter. You can scale in the exabytes with these solutions. You will have to have multiple servers, but most of the exabyte scale projects that we've looked at are IBM.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is always very good. I have never experienced any support as good as them. I'm very happy with IBM technical support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup can be very simple. If you have a small environment, it can be extremely simple. It can be as complex as you want it to be or as you need it to be. That's the good thing about it. 

Some people get lost in it sometimes and the solution makes it too complex for their needs. I know there's criticism that it's too complex. Yes, it's true, it is complex, but it's only complex due to the fact that IBM shares the knowledge. If IBM wouldn't share the knowledge about how to solve things, or how to make things complex, then it wouldn't be complex as then you would have to call support if you have a problem with it.

That's what other vendors do. They don't share the knowledge, they don't allow you to dig into the deeper configuration of the product and you have to call support if you have a problem. That way, with IBM, you can solve it yourself basically. You can customize it to your wishes. 

However, on the other hand, the downside of that is if you have a problem and it's complex and you have to be able to solve it, or you can call support. You have the option. At least you have the option with IBM of making it as complex as you want it to be. With other vendors, you don't have that. That provides flexibility.

Deployment times vary. If you have a VMware environment, it's really fast. It can be a few hours to install the servers and install the data mover, and you're done. If you have a complex environment where you need to install a lot of clients on hardware machines or machines that need a specific backup plan, then it can take weeks.

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

The pricing is average. It's not expensive, it's not cheap. It's not the cheapest, it's not the most expensive. It's very good value for money I would say.

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 there that have more modern features, and IBM is not yet there. Therefore, they're not 10 out of 10. That doesn't mean that those other products are 10 out of 10 because they lack things that IBM has. There's no perfect 10 on the market.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
MA
Storage administrator at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
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

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 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.

What is most valuable?

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.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

It probably has been 20 years since I have been using it. I started using it when it was ADSM. Now it is Spectrum Protect, which I have been using for a couple of years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I like its stability a lot. Over the years, I very rarely had a problem with it.

It was very stable when it was on an AIX server. AIX servers are not as common now. It is on a Linux server now, and it is definitely not as stable on a Linux server as it was on an AIX server.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is decent. In terms of usage, we used to be exclusively all Spectrum Protect, but now we're not. We just have one department that is using it, and they don't do any restores or anything like that. I do everything. Because it has a small footprint now, I am the main person who works on it, and if needed, I have a couple of other people to help out.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate them as average. It totally depends on who you get. I love getting one of their support staff members named Helen. You lucked out when you get Helen. She is awesome. There is another person with whom I've worked great, but the last couple of times, I've opened a case, and I didn't even get a callback. I ended up fixing it on my own. 

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

I've always used it. It started as ADSM and then became TSM and then Spectrum Protect. When we were TSM, we migrated from TSM to another product, but there were just a couple of systems that couldn't be migrated. For very large academic systems and number cruncher systems, we use MN backup. We have a very small footprint of Spectrum Protect left.

How was the initial setup?

It is complex. We have a complicated environment, and it took a week. We had to use the encryption key manager, which is also an IBM product called SKLM, and that had to be upgraded. It was definitely a full week, and it was not easy.

What about the implementation team?

We had a consultant, and our experience was positive.

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

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.

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.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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