Unitrends and Veeam: User Interface and Experience

” Don’t be fooled by flashy interfaces and promises of future unification.”  [Veeam web site referring to Unitrends]

Veeam was one of the pioneers of building backup user interfaces specifically for VMware vSphere (and later Microsoft Hyper-V) virtual administrators.  Since Veeam sells a product that protects only VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, it might sound like I’m “damning with faint praise.”  I’m not.   I think that Veeam (and a few other virtualization-only backup vendors) were offering something that backup vendors who protected heterogeneous environments weren’t – specifically a user interface and experience optimized for virtualization administrators.

Why didn’t the heterogeneous backup vendors offer this?  Because it’s hard to do!  If you treat virtualization as just one more environment to support along with native applications, operating systems, servers, storage, and the like you end up with a lowest common denominator user interface – one which equally good (or bad) across everything that you protect.  If you try to treat virtualization as more important than native application protection, native operating system protection, native storage protection, native server protection, and so on you can easily end up creating a user interface that is difficult to use for those subsystems.

As I mentioned in the opening article of this series (Unitrends and Veeam: Why Veeam Is Talking About Unitrends Now), what we’ve done at Unitrends for the last two years is create a radically new user interface that achieves the simple sophistication required for heterogeneous protection that is easier to use, more intuitive, and requires less work by the user to operate than any product in the industry.  Our goals were ambitious – the project was code-named “Satori” (sudden enlightenment) and our goals were to beat all competitors by a large margin in objective criteria such as click counts.  More importantly, we wanted users of Satori to be awed by the experience of using our systems.

So how did we do?  The chart above details of the number of clicks that are required on an apples-to-apples basis versus Veeam – but we benchmarked every major competitor in the industry – plus a few minor ones.  The number of partners and customers and external design experts who worked with us over the last two years is in the thousands – and as I noted in the prior post, we’re grateful to each and every one.  Finally, we have a team of hard-working software engineers who deserve enormous credit for Satori.

Why is simplicity so important for continuity and data protection systems?  Because ideally, you want a continuity and backup system that you don’t use every day.  You want continuity and backup software that you can forget about – until something changes in the environment.  In that case, you don’t want to have to re-learn the product – you want it to be simple and intuitive to use so that you can focus on your business rather than backup.  That’s what we’ve done with Satori.

Midway through the Satori project, we made a decision that the user interface and experience would be so radically easy to use that we’d put our money where our mouth was – and we created the Unitrends Free product with the Satori user interface.  We decided to make local continuity and backup free for up to 1TB of protected capacity – with infinite retention, VMs, sockets, and the like.

Is it as Veeam alleges “flashy?”  Well, it’s implemented in HTML5 and Angular (AngularJS – Google’s framework for single-page applications) – so it definitely is cutting edge.  The UX/UI design I think is – well, simply awesome.  I’d encourage you to at least try the Unitrends Free product which uses it for continuity and protection for VMware vSphere (both licensed and unlicensed ESXi), Microsoft Hyper-V, and Windows.

What about unification?  Well, with release 9 we’ve moved to a single continuity and data protection product – so we simply don’t sell virtual-only backup longer.  Likewise we’ve made ReliableDR, our recovery assurance product, available for our physical appliance, our software, and our cloud.  And with Release 9, Reliable DR supports not only VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V but physical windows itself.

So try it yourself – and let us know what you think.



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