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Netting Out NetBackup

Realizing OpEx Savings with Symantec Backup Appliances

Created: 16 Sep 2011 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013
Phil Wandrei's picture
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Symantec backup appliances provide many benefits over traditional build-your-own or point solutions.   The benefits may take the form of faster time to deployment, reducing risk, reducing planned and unplanned downtime,  improving staff efficiencies, or enhanced service level.   To quantify in terms of dollars and business value, these benefits must be translated into capital expenditures (CapEx)  and/or operating expenditures (OpEx).  At that point, you have the attention of management. 

When performing a financial analysis, there are several common questions:  what areas provide the savings, how are the savings calculated, and is it necessary to calculate the savings to the nth degree?  This blog and two subsequent blogs will address these questions and examine the areas that typically  provide the greatest benefits. 

How are OpEx savings calculated? 

Typically, to calculate OpEx savings, it is necessary to:

  • Define the activities that must be performed
  • Calculate the amount of time (T) required to perform each activity
  • Determine the frequency (F) of the activity over a given time period
  • Calculate the hourly labor cost (C)
  • Multiple Time (T) by Frequency (F) by Hourly Cost (C)
  • Total all activities

This exercise must be calculated for the point solution(s) and compared to the backup appliance solution.  The difference is the OpEx savings (or loss). 

Is it necessary to calculate savings to the nth degree? 

The answer to this is No.  Only choose those 3-5 areas or tasks that provide the greatest value and have the biggest impact to your organization.  After these top items, the savings become more difficult to define, harder to calculate, and often become subjective. 

Five Areas of OpEx Savings

To get an analysis started, I have identified five key areas for calculating the business impact of a backup appliance;

  • Acquisition
  • Installation and integration
  • System administration
  • Upgrades: software and hardware
  • Support/maintenance

In this blog, I use the term “components” to mean the hardware and software pieces that comprise a build-your-own solution.  This would include server, OS, application, storage, and any other hardware or software required to make the solution.  Based on the number of different components in a solution, this could involve 4 or 5 different OEMs or vendors, and sometimes even more. 


A sometimes overlooked element of a financial analysis is the acquisition costs.  Too often these costs are not considered as they may go undetected, or may be discounted as it is perceived as not taking much time.  Instead, it requires a substantial amount of time to properly select a solution. Or if this step is skipped or glossed over, it creates additional work during implementation.  This reminds me of the 1-10-100 rule for quality; it costs $1 to design in quality, $10 to correct it in the factory, $100 to fix it after it leaves the factor.  I believe this equally applies to the development and implementation of IT solutions. 

Acquisition is the tasks involved in researching, evaluating, selecting and ordering the backup solution. 

Acquisition Tasks

Backup Appliance Impact

Researching:  Determining the various types of solutions that meet your needs. 


Evaluation:  Identifying your selection criteria, writing an RFP, managing the RFP process, and comparing the RFP data from various vendors.


Selecting:  Picking the one solution that best meets your needs.  May involve final vendor presentations, consulting with internal technical experts, management and others. 


Final Configuration:  Researching the hardware and software to ensure compatibility of current model and rev levels.  Are the OS, storage, servers, HBA, switches and their revision levels compatible and tested by the vendors? 


Ordering: Managing the PO process.  Placing an order for hardware, software, and services with the respective vendor(s).  Having each vendor review the Bill of Materials for the entire solution. 


 As demonstrated, the amount of time in the Acquisition phase can be extensive and needs to be considered.  There are definite advantages with an appliance as it reduces the number of vendors involved, and significantly reduces the amount of time managing and coordinating amount the vendors,  and even eliminates steps in the acquisition phase.

In the next blog, Realizing OpEx Savings with Symantec Backup Appliances  - Part II, I will examine the OpEx savings associated with Installation/Integration, and Administration.   If you have specifics for a recent project and would be willing to share, I am interested to know how your experience compares, or what your lessons learned were.