Quorum OnQ Flex review

£10k will buy you close to the perfect backup and recovery system

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£9,034
  • Simple one-click backup and recovery; Good value; Simple deployment; Slick DR testing features
  • OnQ Monitor interface needs improving

Businesses that think they have the perfect data protection plan are only fooling themselves if they've never tested it. Disasters don't run to a timetable and businesses are putting their survival on the line if they can't recover from one.

Quorum makes their life easier as its OnQ systems provide simple one-click backup, recovery and disaster recovery (DR) testing for critical systems. Aimed at SMBs, OnQ can be tailored to suit as they can choose from on-site, off-site and DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) components.

The OnQ Flex 140-5 appliance on review provides on-site high-availability (HA) and can be linked up with a remote DR appliance. The on-site archive is replicated to it over an encrypted, compressed WAN link and if you don't have a secondary site, Quorum offers its DRaaS option where it maintains a cloud DR environment for you.

To secure a system just load the OnQ web console and click the Protect Me button 

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One-click backup

The 140-5 model is a well-specified Dell PowerEdge R320 1U rack server. For testing, we deployed it in the lab network comprising a Windows Server 2012 R2 AD domain controller plus Exchange 2013 and SQL Server 2014 systems. 

To protect a system, we simply loaded the appliance's web console on the system of interest and hit the Protect Me' button. This installed the OnQ agent which started backing the system up immediately to the appliance and creating a recovery node (RN). 

The first run took a couple of hours for our three test systems. Subsequent backups are much faster as OnQ takes incremental snapshots of each system and updates their RN with deltas. 

The OnQ Monitor portal is fairly informative but is in need of a serious refresh 

Automated DR testing

The appliance runs the OnQ software in its own VM and its web console is easy to use. The dashboard kept us posted on the action and allowed us set up protection schedules for each server ranging from 15 minute to 24 hour intervals.

Multiple appliances can be managed from the OnQ Monitor page although this is poorly designed and looks dated. It provides basic pie charts showing backup and OnQ storage status but lacks any decent reporting tools.

The system defaults to running an immediate backup and creating an RN for each protected system. We also decided on how many days we wanted the appliance to retain unreferenced backed up data for, which local drives we wanted protected and the number of virtual CPUs and memory to be assigned to each RN.

You'll want to know an RN will be there when you need it most and Quorum has its automated RN test facilities. We decided whether we wanted selected RNs to be tested after every incremental update or at specific times each day and left Quorum to get on with it.

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If an RN fails a self-test, the appliance issues a notification email and for deeper testing we also ran manual RN tests. This loads the RN in a private network so the associated production node can stay online and the backup process still continues.

The recovery nodes can be loaded in a private test network or into the live production environment

One-click recovery

We shut down our live SQL Server 2014 system and loaded up its RN in the production network simply by selecting the PN's connection status icon in the dashboard. The RN loaded without any problems and provided a perfect duplicate of our SQL Server production server.

Next, we closed down our Exchange 2013 server and loaded up its RN in the production network. As with our SQL Server RN, it booted up without any problems.

As far as our users were concerned, the Exchange RN was the real thing. They could continue to access their mail remotely via OWA while those running Outlook 2013 were able to check in with their current profile and continue working normally.

We used the QUARK recovery environment to restore our production servers from the latest snapshots

Production restoration

Once our production environment was back on its feet we could restore files and folders directly from the associated RNs. The Restore tab in the OnQ interface listed all protected systems along with their snapshots where we browsed for files and chose a recovery destination.

Our Exchange 2013 RN had been used extensively while it stood in so we wanted to restore all changes including the latest emails. To do this we used the Windows PE-based QUARK (Quorum Ultimate Automated Recovery Kit) which required the production server to be booted with an ISO downloaded from the appliance.

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From the QUARK recovery environment, we connected to the OnQ appliance and left it to restore our server from the latest snapshot. It took around an hour but on completion, our original production Exchange server was back in action with all updates successfully applied.

Conclusion

If your recovery process fails to work in an emergency then backup is complete a waste of time. Quorum's OnQ makes sure that won't happen as it pays as much attention to recovery as it does to backup.

The 140-5 appliance on review costs less than 10K, can handle 2.6TB of customer data and has an unlimited server license (although 7 is the recommended maximum). We found it simple to deploy and its one-click backup and recovery really does work - any data protection solution that's this easy to use gets our vote every time.

Verdict

Qorum’s OnQ simplifies backup and recovery immensely making it ideal for busy SMBs. It's easy to deploy and were impressed with its slick recovery and testing facilities.

OnQ 140-5 model

Chassis: 1U Dell PowerEdge R320 rack

CPU: 2.4GHz Xeon E5-2407 v2

Memory: 32GB DDR3 RDIMM

Storage: 4 x 2TB NL-SAS hot-plug hard disks

RAID: Dell PERC H710/512MB NV cache

Network: 2 x Gigabit

Power: 2 x 350W hot-swap PSUs

Management: Dell iDRAC7 Enterprise

Warranty: 3yrs on-site NBD

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