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Thu, Apr. 15th, 2010, 10:31 am
Avoid Bru/Tolis Group products

I used to really like and recommend Bru, the backup software from Tolis Group. Their support was excellent, and since backups aren't my forte, I'd frequently refer clients to them. Back in the day, when you called support, it was likely that you'd end up speaking with one of the coders, and they knew their software so well that they could solve pretty much any problem very quickly.

Recently, one of my long-term consulting customers who had been using Bru's software bought a Bruapp backup appliance. Since buying it, I've learned that their support and their product engineering are NOTHING liked they used to be.

The server comes with two ethernet interfaces. My client connected one to the front-end network that has SMTP and NTP servers on it, as well as filtered Internet access. He connected the other interface to a private back-end network that has the NFS servers attached. This is the network that the backups will be done on. The Bru server was connected to the front-end network only so it could send alert emails, update its time via NTP, etc.

My client has been fighting with their support for several weeks now- the Bru server was unable to reach the Internet to get updates from Bru. Bru insisted that it was a problem with the network and there was nothing they could do about it. I checked the configuration of the Bru server- everything was correct. Eventually, I configured a port on the network switch to mirror the port that the Bru server was on. I saw only local traffic to other hosts on the same network. When the server tried to reach the Internet, I saw no traffic at all destined for the router. I suggested that there was a problem with the Bru server's default route or netmask.

After more hemming and hawing, Bru support finally came back with an answer of "Oh yeah, that's a problem. You either need to run a beta version of our next release that fixes it or only use one network interface". A few hours later, they said that they couldn't provide a beta version after all and that we'd have to only use one ethernet port for now.

So, next problem. Now we're only using the back-end network. The system can't send mail alerts, though. Ya see, the SMTP relay server is apparently HARDCODED to smtp.yourdomain.com. And that resolves to an IP that can only be reached from the front-end network. So, my client is having to put in a ticket with Bru to ask them to change the fricking mail relay server address. Except that they're not going to be able to get into the system because they've disabled the front-end network.

Is this really the sort of server you want to trust your server backups to?

There are other problems with the server, but this has been the final straw. I'm never recommending any Tolis Group products to customers again. Their support staff are condescending and unhelpful, and they seem to not give a damn about their customers. I don't know what changes over the last few years have caused this decline at Tolis Group, but I hope they wake up and do something about it.

Wed, May. 12th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): BRU sucks.

Over the last five years they have gotten worse and worse. We finally dumped them.

Fri, Nov. 19th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): I must agree

One of my clients has a BRU-Appliance, and we have had to replace the hard drive, the tape drive, and finally the entire unit. It is the loudest piece of hardware I've ever come across.
Their software is indeed buggy - if you simply open the window to view or edit a schedule, the "Enable" checkbox gets unselected. If you don't notice and close the window without re-selecting the checkbox, your schedule no longer runs.
I agree their support staff are not very friendly or courteous. I'm guessing it's just a matter of time before this company goes under. I'll certainly never recommend them to any of my clients.