Customizing Disaster Recovery For Client NeedsCustomizing Disaster Recovery For Client Needs
Not every customer you have will need the same level of recovery, and not every customer will have the same budget. MSPs must check in with companies about their recovery requirements, IT budget and potential for problems before setting up a solution.
July 30, 2013
Many disaster planners will tell you that you need to prepare for anything, but honestly, that’s not always realistic. Backup and disaster recovery planning is about talking through real needs and establishing best practices for individual clients. When working with a budget, the best approach is to consider feasible scenarios without discounting the unlikely. It’s certainly not impossible to prepare for everything, but it can get very expensive for a client to ensure full uptime in the face of any disaster. The best approach is to look at what’s most practical for each client by discussing in detail their recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, what they can afford, and what you’re prepared to offer. Each client will be different, but with a little forethought you can provide the right options for everyone.
The first thing you need to think about is what you can actually offer your clients. Can you sell them a BDR that will handle most of their needs? Will you be ready to drop everything and get them back up and running following a major emergency? Can you provide them with loaner equipment if they need an extra server or workstation temporarily? Have a look at what you’re prepared to offer. Many MSPs have a tiered approach that offers a few levels of protection a client can pick from. They can usually select one that make the most sense to them, but ultimately, your offering should be flexible enough to meet every clients’ needs, without pinching pennies. Use your judgment and make your suggestions to clients, but remember that ultimately, it’s up to them what they’re willing to pay for, and what they really need.
Before you sell a client anything, you need to look at their wants, needs, and budget. While there might be forces in their area that can wipe out their business in a moment, they may not all be able to pay for every single backup and recovery service you have available.
Client needs and budget must come first, but this can be tricky because you’ve got to find the right balance between budgetary constraints and the need for disaster resistance. For example, Client A might have tons of money that they’re willing to spend on IT, but at the same time, they might not even need to spend loads of money on disaster recovery—maybe they can stand a little bit of downtime. On the other hand, Client B might be a medical practice that can’t afford to lose any data due to HIPAA compliance, and the need to have immediate access to client medical records and other data. For that they probably need full redundancy, backup equipment, and the works if they hope to be up and running in the face of disasters large and small.
In order to help the client determine what they need, it’s useful to discuss common threats businesses face—these will help them see the real, true need of backup and disaster recovery.
There are two types of external threats. The first is our friend Mother Nature. When it comes to site destroying scenarios, you need to think about common regional disasters first because there are disasters that simply aren’t worth preparing for. If you’re on the coast, you might need to deal with tropical storms, hurricanes, and even tsunamis and flooding, but you won’t if you live in parts of the Midwest—instead, you might contend with tornados. Knowing these will allow you to create plan that can accommodate needs your clients might have during these types of issues.
The second type of external threat comes from hackers and cyber-criminals—this isn’t something you or clients should skimp on, because even though many MSPs see malware and viruses as issues that generally affect a single work station, there are situations where an entire business can be shut down. Being realistic in this case means you’ve got to be prepared for the possibility. Firewalls and anti-virus can do plenty, but when that sneaky zero-day virus comes along, can you get the client back on track quickly?
Internal forces come in two flavors as well, the first of which are users. People make mistakes, whether you’re talking about deleting a few files, accidentally opening malicious emails, or completely obliterating a file share by accident. You can’t ignore the possibility that an employee will screw up royally, but you can’t assume every single person is a total idiot either. Employees need to understand acceptable email and Internet behavior to avoid accidental malware and virus intrusions, so make sure your clients know that employees need to use proper etiquette to avoid malicious emails or Internet browsing behavior that lets threats walk in the front door. What seems like common sense to you might not be for your average worker.
The second internal force is one you should know about all too well: failure. Simple hardware failures account for a large number of problems, whether it’s a hard drive, power supply, or other component. Clearly, understanding that nearly any piece of equipment can fail is important. It’s useful to keep spares around, but it might not be realistic to keep a spare piece of equipment for each thing a client has, of course, there are exceptions. Think about what a client feasibly needs, and again, consider the client’s budget. They might be able to get away with some downtime, so be practical about their needs and don’t upsell if they really can’t benefit.
Casey Morgan is the marketing content specialist at StorageCraft.
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