Prior to starting the BDR (backup and disaster recovery test), I had several calls with Eric Brown, CEO, and Kevin Danis, technical manager, Remote Technology Management (RTM). We discussed the criteria we wanted to use for the tests to ensure every product was tested fairly. One of the challenges we had to take into consideration was the fact that some of the BDR vendors, like Datto and Axcient, bundle their software with their hardware appliances. Other BDR vendors, such as StorageCraft and Asigra, are purely software based. Following are some details regarding the basic test methodology RTM followed.
What were the basic steps you followed to test each BDR product?
Brown: We used the same end backup target for each of the BDRs, which was a Dell OptiPlex 760 workstation that had 4GB of RAM and included Small Business Server 2008 with a 75 GB partition. We purposely avoided using a 1 TB drive because we were more concerned with the functionality of the software and didn’t want to extend the length of the test. We came up with these test criteria because it’s a very typical, real-world example for most SMB companies. For software-only BDRs, we used a 1 TB USB drive to back up to. For the BDR solutions that supported Apple laptop/desktop backups, we used Kevin’s MacBook Air.
Considering two people were involved in the test, how did you minimize individual biases/margins of error?
Brown: Some of the BDRs we tested together, others separately. The criteria we established up front left little wiggle room for personal biases, plus we were both genuinely interested in seeing whether there might be some additional BDRs out there to complement what we’re already using. Also, because there were no red flags that arose during the test, it wasn’t necessary for one of us to validate the other’s testing.
What were the biggest challenges/anomalies you ran into?
Brown: This was way more involved than the RMM (remote monitoring and management) test we performed previously. Even though BDR technology has come a long ways over the past 10 years, it still requires someone with engineering skills to perform the initial setup. It’s more complicated than firing up a BDR and pointing it to the server/workstation you want to back up. Some of the BDRs, like StorageCraft for instance, required three hours of reading to set up because there are different flavors of their product – ones that are better suited to small businesses and others that are more geared for larger enterprises.
With CharTec, when doing the virtualization we couldn’t get it to work initially. We contacted their support, and they immediately helped us by logging in remotely to the BDR and installing a software patch. Within a few minutes, everything was up and running. Working with their support team was a really nice experience.
One other notable anomaly was with Asigra. Their onboarding process was a lot more thorough than the other vendors. The onboarding call alone was 2 hours, which was quite a bit different from others, like StorageCraft, which allow you to just download their software. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing that they have such an extensive onboarding process, I’m just saying it’s noteworthy.