Revisiting your backup licensing model

I’m in the process of doing a market survey for various enterprise backup products. During my investigation, I’ve found that picking the right backup licensing model can save you a large amount of money. How?

Companies like IBM and Symantec offer different licensing models for the same product. Specifically, you can go the typical a la Carte model where you add up the number of servers, application agents, tape libraries, options, etc. and purchase a boatload of line items to exactly match your environment. Depending on your vendor, the boat you end up with may be large and complex or not so large.

Another model is a capacity based model. In this model you license the quantity of storage you use in TB increments, and depending on your vendor, you may need to add additional licenses for the number of servers or unique agents. I call this capacity + other license model a hybrid approach since it’s not strictly based on capacity.

During my research I discovered that Symantec NetBackup 7 offers both the traditional a la Carte model, and a pure capacity based model. IBM Tivoli storage manager offers the agent model, and a hybrid capacity model. Depending on your specific environment, these two different capacity based models may significantly alter the bottom line cost. The pricing tier for both companies is dependent on the number of processors or cores in each server.

Let’s take a concrete example to make this clearer. Here’s a sample environment:

10TB usable space on a SAN disk array, 3TB of actual data
LAN-Free Backups required
Fibre Channel tape library
Virtual Tape Library
All servers are dual socket, quad core
20 Total physical servers
— 3 SharePoint
— 2 Exchange
— 2 Active Directory
— 2 SQL 2008
— All remaining are member servers

In the pure capacity based model, such as NetBackup 7, you would need a single 3TB license. Allowing for future growth, maybe add another TB, for a total of 4TB. Throw in yearly maintenance and you are done. Two line items on your PO. You could add/remove servers, libraries, add a VTL, virtualize, or do whatever you want for no additional cost, assuming you stay within your capacity license.

If your backup product goes the hybrid route, like Tivoli 6, then your shopping cart would look something like this:

–Capacity license (1TB x3)
–SharePoint License (x3)
–Server license (x20)
–Master server license (x1)

Depending on your specific situation, one model may be significantly more or less expensive than the other. Other products like Veeam Backup, are licensed on a per-socket basis and have no capacity other limitations. The bottom line is thoroughly understand ALL licensing models that your backup vendors are offering and get quotes for both approaches. You may be shocked at the cost difference.

I was quite surprised that NetBackup 7 and Tivoli 6 capacity licenses are based on used disk space, not total presented disk space. This means you only pay to backup your actual data usage, and not for the unused capacity on your disks or SAN. Bottom line, calculate the total amount of data in a full system backup and that’s your minimum licensing requirement for the capacity model.

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