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Netting Out NetBackup

Realizing OpEx Savings with Symantec Backup Appliances - Part III

Created: 03 Oct 2011 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013
Phil Wandrei's picture
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Symantec backup appliances provide many business value benefits. In my earlier two blogs, Realizing OpEx Savings with Symantec Backup Appliances and Realizing OpEx Savings with Symantec Backup Appliances – Part II  five (5) areas of  OpEx savings were identified: 

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

In this blog, the final two areas of OpEx savings will be examined; Upgrades and Support. 

Upgrade and Refreshes

With any point solution, there are multiple components that will require firmware and/or software updates. A best case is two updates per component per year. Based on 4 to 5 components in the build-your-own solution, this can result in 8 - 10 updates annually. Compounding this is the fact that updates are not issued at the same time by the various OEMs or vendors, and backwards compatibility is often a management nightmare. For example, is a required or mandatory patch for the storage supported by the server, OS, application, HBA, and other components? How much time is spent verifying the interoperability of updates for your environment? 

Upgrade Firmware / Software Tasks

Appliance Impact

Tracking and managing firmware or software updates

Reduces

Verifying compatibility with other components

Eliminates

Testing or validating the updates

Eliminates

Installing firmware or software updates

Reduces

Since the entire Symantec backup appliance components are “inside the box” and supported by Symantec, software and firmware updates are fully tested and validated, and interoperability issues are eliminated. 

Another area of upgrades is the components themselves. What happens when the system needs to be expanded or upgraded? This question, “how does the solution scale”  should be asked and answered as part of the selection criteria.  It is important to understand how your system is licensed and supported, and how these costs change when additional data is stored, hardware added, or software licensing expanded.  This eliminates any surprises after the initial purchase when the system must grow to meet you r dynamic needs.  Symantec addresses the “gotchas” of software licensing in the blog; Open letter to EMC: Change your Data Domain licensing model and stop taxing your customers.

Common activities which may impact or drive incremental licensing or maintenance costs are server refresh, changing retention periods, replicating data, encrypting data, adding storage, increasing connectivity with HBAs or NICs, etc. 

Whenever a new or upgraded component is introduced into the system, it requires the same steps for installation and integration. 

Upgrade Component Tasks

Appliance Impact

Verifying compatibility with other components

Reduces

Installing component

Reduces

Testing or validating the component in the system

Reduces

Re-optimizing system performance

Eliminates

 When upgrading a Symantec backup appliance with either software and/or hardware, system performance has already been verified and results are known.     

Support/Maintenance

The fifth area of OpEx savings is Support or Maintenance.  

A great benefit of an appliance is having a single vendor to call for any and all issues. This eliminates the “finger-pointing game” that often occurs with a build-your-own solution.  The problem appears to be storage, but after 3 questions, the vendor’s technical supports, says, “No, not our component as it must be ____________ (fill in the blank with one of the other  components)”. After contacting each vendor, you are right back to square one; system is down and no closer to resolution. 

In general, most OEMs or vendors have very good technical support. However, in those instances where it is not a “vanilla” problem, the challenges of coordinating multiple vendors for problem determination, escalations, and resolution can be very taxing and time-consuming.  

Support/Maintenance Tasks

Appliance Impact

Perform problem determination; is it the server, OS, application, storage

Eliminates

Notify the Vendor(s)

Reduces

Game of “finger-pointing” 

Eliminates

Problem tracking and escalation

Reduces

 With Symantec appliances, support is as easy as calling the 1-800 number. One number to call for all your support questions and concerns. 

Conclusion

There are significant OpEx savings from a Symantec backup appliance. The five areas that have been examined were:

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

With any financial analysis, it needs to be tailored to the business and the IT organization. Remember to keep it simple and pick the top 3 – 5 items for analysis.  Add more if it makes sense and the results can be easily identified and calculated. 

If you have recently gone through a financial analysis to justify or validate a backup solution, I would be interested in learning about your process and the results.