SCDPM Pros and Cons

If you are a backup administrator chances are you have heard of System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) at some point. Also chances are you have heard of the many cool features and the functionality it has. If you have not SCDPM is Microsoft’s entrance into the backup market. SCDPM’s first release was back in 2006. Now SCDPM is up to version 2012. Many improvements have been made to the product since its 2006 release and it continues to improve. SCDPM is very strong when used for backing up data in Microsoft environments. Now we are going to review some of the highlights of SCDPM as well as some of the cons and how things compare to another backup product out there on the market.

Some of the limitations that continue to exist with DPM are: the limited reporting capabilities, ability to backup to USB, and NAS storage, protection of non-Microsoft workloads, direct access to the backup data, client protection without VPN, and deep tape management.

These are some of the areas where other backup products are succeeding over DPM. Even with the limitations of SCDM there are many pros that outweigh the cons. Here are some of the great improvements we have seen in SCDPM 2012 and SP1 beta.

SCDPM is the best supported backup option for Microsoft workloads. Have you ever tried calling Microsoft support when another backup product has issues recovering a Microsoft workload? The third party vendor is pointing fingers at Microsoft and Microsoft is pointing fingers at the other vendor. With SCDPM you do not have that issue. One vendor to call if you need support.

We will get to DPM SP1 in shortly but first let’s look at the improvements in 2012 alone. Certificate based protection, role based access, remote console, and the central console to manage many SCDPM servers from one location. With the release of 2012 we have also seen improvements in the speed of SharePoint backups and item level recovery of Hyper-V virtual machines while DPM is running as a virtual machine itself.

As we have seen with System Center SP1 beta you can backup data to Windows Azure cloud. There are huge enhancements with SP1 to protecting Hyper-V these include: protection over remote SMB shares, protection of virtual machine live migrations without interruption and overall better performance of Hyper-V protection. Protection of Server 2012, SQL 2012 and Windows 8 including de-duplicated volumes on server 2012.

As with previous SCDPM versions protection Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, offsite replication, and Windows servers is a best of breed. SCDPM will continue to be a strong competitor to other data protection products on the market.

Now let’s take a look at Symantec Backup Exec (BE). Some of the highlights of BE include offsite copy to FTP or secondary hard drive, Exchange protection and recovery at the email, folder, and mailbox levels, ILR protection of Active Directory, ILR of SharePoint data like SCDPM, de-duplication and one of the biggest edges over SCDPM is the protection of Linux and MAC based workloads. BE can take image based backups like the BMR in SCDPM however BE can convert the images into VM’s for recovery of psychical servers as virtual machines. This includes VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine formats. BE can run on RHEL5 on SLES 10 and Windows. SCDPM can only run on Windows. Like SCDPM BE can protect data as often as every 15 minutes.

These two products are close in feature sets in several areas with the exception of BE being able to protect both Microsoft and non-Microsoft workloads, built-in de-duplication, and the ability to restore from an image based backup to a virtual machine. Over BE SCDPM offers client protection, SQL self-service recovery, integration into SCOM via the central console and role based security, lighter software footprint, easy to configure and use replication, support of Server 2012, SQL 2012, and well there will be support of all the new Microsoft products as time goes on, easy to configure and easy to use interface.

One thing to keep in mind is when you purchase SCDPM you get licensing to the other System Center products as well. Backup Exec on the other hand is a standalone product and much of the other licensing for application workloads such as Exchange and SharePoint will cost extra.

Overall Backup Exec has some very cool features and it would be nice to see Microsoft add some of these to Data Protection Manager. If you need to protect non-Microsoft workloads BE may be a good alternative. However if you have a Microsoft based environment SCDPM is less complicated to operate compared to BE and does a great job at protecting Microsoft workloads.

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