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New Backup Software

We’re working on some upgrades to various things around our network, and the time has come to start using some real enterprise backup software rather than our home-grown over-the-wire synchronization tools. We’ve looked at the market leaders for backup software, and so far at least on paper, Commvault looks to have the largest subset of features that we need.

We’ve been in touch with them and requested a demo set of software with a time-bombed license. Commvault were surprisingly taken aback by our request for demo software. They offered to demo their software to us on their lab over a WebEx. I expressed confidence that their demo would work great in their lab on their equipment, but I was more interested in how it would work in our lab on our equipment. They told me they don’t do many client pilots. Who the hell buys gazillion dollar software licenses based only on marketing glossies?

Commvault graciously agreed to send us demo software. I received a kit of software with eval licenses today, and already have the back-end server, called a CommServe with a CommCell console setup and running. That part was pretty easy.

The other things I like so far are that there are media agents for x86 Solaris, which is what we use for disk targets for backup already, so I can continue to use my existing large disk servers, and they have their complete documentation online with public access. That last one is a huge win for Commvault in my eyes.

Nothing turns me off more with enterprise software than when the website is strictly a marketing tool with no access to documentation, support information or anything actually important until after you’re a paying customer. This problem is endemic in the enterprise software world. See Tower Software for a great example of that, with nothing but white papers, brochures, and case studies out in the open. Hopefully the HP buyout will fix that.

If you really want to show off how good your product is, first, actually make it good, and then expose your documentation and support knowledgebase to the world. It’s easy to tell what kind of problems and issues to expect when you can see what kind of questions other customers ask of your support people.

I don’t even know why enterprise software companies hide their documentation from the public. What are they afraid of? That their competitors are going to steal their ideas? Any serious competitors already have the same ideas and they can easily get at yours anyways, so how about giving up the secrecy and making your products more convenient for your customers to use?

Sorry, I slipped into rant mode for a second there. Anyways, Commvault seems to at least do that part right, as do Novell and VMware, both of whom have excellent online documentation and support information.

Categories: Rant, Storage and Backup
  1. 2008-07-10 at 12:49

    Have you tried Backup Exec? They have a majority of the market share for a reason and I’ve been using their products for years…

    Evaluate: They offer 60 days free! BackupExec.com
    Backup Exec System Recovery – Awesome!
    Backup Exec 12.0 – Tons of options, scalable, GRT!!!

  2. 2008-07-10 at 12:56

    Yeah, we’ve tried Backup Exec. Backup Exec is the reason why we’ve been using a homebrew backup solution for the last four years.

    Can you say server crash crash crash?

  3. Pete
    2008-07-10 at 16:07

    We’ve been using Backup Exec for a while now. Running on Netware, SLES, and Win2k3. We never have had any “serious” issues like crashing in the past but other smaller oddities do occur… often.

    Recently we decided to upgrade our licensing to the Netware Open File Option so we could backup the open files. I’ve installed it on all my servers and it abends and crashes every Netware box as soon as the backup job hits that server.

    …crash crash crash…. describes my last few weeks.

  1. 2008-12-18 at 02:45

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