Feature

Quality Awards IV: On top again: CommVault Galaxy, EMC Retrospect

Ezine

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Product reliability
Because backup and recovery is the cornerstone of any data protection scheme, reliability is a critical factor. CommVault returned to the top of the group in the product reliability section with a score of 6.11. No other product rated above 6.0, although HP came close with a very respectable 5.92. CommVault had a very high 6.83 rating for the statement "This product's OS platform support is adequate." More importantly, it had a very strong 6.46 score for "This product meets my service-level needs," which gets to the core of reliability. Tivoli and HP had ratings of 6.35 and 6.31, respectively, for this same statement. Responses to the statement "This product operates in a lights-out mode" are also designed to illustrate key reliability. CommVault again led the group with a 5.67, followed by HP (5.54) and Tivoli (5.28).

"It's 100% reliable," says Performance Food Group's Wible of NetBackup, which notched a 5.83 for the service-level statement. Also a Backup Exec user, Wible says of NetBackup's sibling app, "overall, our reliability with that is definitely in the mid- to upper-90s."

Among midrange products, Retrospect scored a 5.62 for reliability, followed by Backup Exec's 5.18 and ARCserve's 4.36. This score was ARCserve's lowest of the survey. Retrospect's highest score in the section was for "This vendor provides comprehensive upgrade guidance,"

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(5.94), but it also rated highly for "This product's OS platform support is adequate" (5.89). Backup Exec also had its highest rating for this statement (5.93). Apparently, however, users aren't enamored with the way any of the vendors handle errors. "This product's error handling is easy and intuitive" generated the lowest section score for all three midrange products: ARCserve (3.60), Backup Exec (4.56) and Retrospect (4.89).

"It reports a lot of errors," says Performance Food Group's Wible about Backup Exec, minor stuff he doesn't think affects the actual backup, "errors that I don't want to see."


Technical support
Tivoli Storage Manager broke up the back-and-forth 1-2 finishes of CommVault and HP by winning our technical support section. Its 6.16 section score was quite respectable and well above Galaxy (5.79) and Data Protector (5.71). Lately, IBM support has done very well in our surveys. Continuing this trend, its support scored high marks for the statement "Vendor provides support as contractually specified" (6.61).

"IBM has clearly the best and knowledgeable people in support roles," noted one survey respondent, adding that IBM "furnishes fixes in appropriate timeframes." Another satisfied Tivoli user also had praise for IBM: "Their support is top notch."

Backup and recovery software, more than most other storage product categories, is sold primarily through value-added channels. We therefore ask respondents to evaluate the vendor's partners. Based on the response to the statement "Vendor's third-party partners are knowledgeable," IBM's are apparently head and shoulders above the others with a 6.31 rating; Symantec was second with a 5.82, followed by EMC (5.43), CommVault (5.42) and HP (5.35).

The Web has become an increasingly important support tool for users, often used in lieu of placing service calls to vendors or resellers. "Documentation is really good," says TMCC's Lawson of Symantec's Backup Exec support. "The product is widely used, and you don't have to have a logon ID to go to their support center." Lawson relies on online support because the college didn't re-up its tech support contract. "We weren't really using it to justify the price," says Lawson, who notes that their backup environment is stable enough to do without the security blanket of a support contract.

Retrospect was also highly rated for the statement "Vendor provides support as contractually specified" (6.16). Its overall section score of 5.50 topped Backup Exec (5.12) and ARCserve (4.43).

This was first published in September 2008

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