There are far better options for data protection and disaster recovery than this
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
November 24, 2019

There are far better options for data protection and disaster recovery than this

Score 1 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Dell EMC Networker

We use Dell EMC Networker to protect about 90 virtual machines and a handful of physical servers across two AD domains. We had been looking for dedicated backup hardware and settled on Data Domain as the solution. At the time we were using Acronis as the software side of our DR strategy and were aware we needed something more robust, but this was secondary to having dedicated storage appliances. Dell offered to bundle Networker with this hardware and the price/feature set seemed to be a good fit.
  • I don't think this product does anything well. It shines only because of the Data Domain integration.
  • The support teams is excellent, which is good, because you'll need them. Frequently.
  • The project implementation team is also competent and professional but their hands were often tied due to poor direction from the sales team.
  • The GUI is horrible. Giant windows that don't size properly, confusing terminology, multiple clicks to get things done, it's just a disorganized mess. I can't put this in front of my junior techs because it requires some background in DR software to fully comprehend, and even then it's not easy. It feels very much like this was tacked on to a command-line based product as an afterthought.
  • Better management features. It's difficult to integrate with Active Directory, for one. You'll need a Dell EMC tech to help you. Items can't be renamed and have to be recreated. Options are buried in multiple GUI tabs and often are just command line strings in a free-text field. Diagnosing failed jobs and workflows is cumbersome and the errors are often cryptic without some experience. Design it well and pray for uptime, because you need this to work when disaster requires it to.
  • Poor reporting features for an enterprise class product. You can't schedule any type of simple summary (an audit requirement for us) in the base product. To do this requires the additional cost of Data Protection Advisor, which is also horribly designed and impossible to get working quickly.
  • Post-sales contact is non-existent. We've been through a few reps and the project team dropped us at one point with a half-finished implementation when the original sales guy moved on. We only got the the promised product implementation by telling Dell that we weren't paying the bill until they delivered what they promised and were contractually obligated to.
  • Now that it's been implemented and the many kinks worked out, we have far less exposure to downtime, but that's only because we didn't have an adequate backup solution in the target environment initially. We used native tools to protect SQL data and a few other tricks, but really didn't have anything proper. In other words, the bar was low.
  • We have reduced the load on some of our application servers through the use of Networker's agent for Microsoft. However, compare that with Veeam, which just has a checkbox and no agent required to properly back up a SQL box.
  • Agent-based backups require monitoring and periodic updates. This adds complexity and additional staff time to manage.
I've used many DR platforms over the years: HP Data Protector, Veritas (formerly Symantec) Backup Exec, Acronis Backup Advanced, AppAssure (another Dell product), Commvault, and a few others. We selected Networker based on its integration with the Data Domain hardware we wanted and the agreeable price point. I should have demanded more time to work with the product before buying but there really isn't a demo outside of a tightly controlled sales pitch that hides a lot of warts. We've since partially moved on to Veeam in one of our two AD domains. Veeam talks to the Data Domains natively and is a far better product that doesn't require nearly as much administration. I occasionally have issues with Networker as it relates to stability - and I will never fully trust it as I've been let down in some very creative ways when attempting restores.
The support team has always been good, and there is never an issue that can't be resolved. The techs are competent and know the product. The slightly less than perfect rating I'm giving is because Support shouldn't carry the burden themselves. We hear from Dell sales people all the time, but they never call and ask about this product, nor do they offer to upsell it or make it better. That lack of sales support and coherence hurts the overall rating a bit. When I spend my company's money on your product, I expect you to at least ACT like you care, if not actually care for real. It influences my opinion and future purchasing habits.

Do you think Dell EMC Networker delivers good value for the price?

No

Are you happy with Dell EMC Networker's feature set?

Yes

Did Dell EMC Networker live up to sales and marketing promises?

No

Did implementation of Dell EMC Networker go as expected?

No

Would you buy Dell EMC Networker again?

No

Veeam Backup & Replication
Networker is only suited for one thing: being a front end for good hardware. We love our Data Domains, the dedupe is insane and they ingest data rapidly. You'd be better off using Veeam, which can talk to the Data Domains natively (that's what we're doing now).

Dell EMC Networker Feature Ratings

Universal recovery
Not Rated
Live recovery
8
Recovery verification
5
Business application protection
3
Multiple backup destinations
5
Incremental backup identification
3
Backup to the cloud
Not Rated
Deduplication and file compression
9
Snapshots
7
Flexible deployment
2
Management dashboard
1
Platform support
10
Retention options
4
Encryption
10

Evaluating Dell EMC Networker and Competitors

Yes - Networker supplanted HP Data Protector. Our licensing for DP had expired and was extremely costly to renew and the product was so far out of date that a new implementation would have been required.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
The promised deduplication features and integration with Data Domain were key points. The promise of leaning out the amount of data transferred over the wire was alluring.
I'd definitely have made sure to get more hands on or multiple visual demos. The UI is just that bad. Now that I'm more familiar with the CLI, it's not as bad but I think its true power lies in its scriptable nature. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or resources to build a custom solution particularly when I'm paying for it. I just need it to be reliable and straightforward to implement.

Using Dell EMC Networker

ProsCons
None
Do not like to use
Unnecessarily complex
Difficult to use
Requires technical support
Inconsistent
Slow to learn
Cumbersome
Feel nervous using
Lots to learn
  • Details on current operations are plentiful and will satisfy the hardcore backup geek
  • The UI is completely incoherent and behaves like an old Java app mimicking modern systems... because it is
  • Backing up and recovering Microsoft Exchange and/or SQL is very messy and is also agent based
  • Managing storage destinations is awful and hard to do from the UI
  • Why do I have to open an application and then open an application again? And why is it Java based?
  • Despite good recovery options they're buried in multiple clicks and windows
  • Customizing the "dashboard" to show information you deem relevant is not always possible and definitely not pretty
Use this, and then use Veeam. Or literally just about anything else. It's a powerful engine with a crappy paint job and a rusty frame.