Top 10 Things You Want In Your Backup Contract
Many of you -- MSPs, VARs, channel partners -- have contracts with your customers for providing backup services; however, there are key points that your backup contracts should contain to alleviate misunderstandings and keep you out of hot water.
Many of you — MSPs, VARs, channel partners — have contracts with your customers for providing backup services; however, there are key points that your backup contracts should contain to alleviate misunderstandings and keep you out of hot water. (It's a lot harder for the client to say "I didn't know that" when you have signed a legal document with them!) Although it is very easy to create a simple contract that says "I will back up XX GB of data for $XX" this can leave points that can be argued in a court of law, such as:
- What got backed up?
- When was it backed up?
- Who was supposed to do what?
Even though some of the ideas listed below seem like a lot of work, I can guarantee it's a lot less work than meeting a client in court! What gets backed up? Because it is a lot of work, many solution providers skip this step. Here are some of the things you should list in a schedule attached to your main backup contract. It can be as simple as a Word table:
- Server Name
- Server Application
- Volume Name
- In-Use and RAW Space
By putting this list in your contract, it gives you the core of what you are backing up. The Server Name helps identify the exact server that you are backing up. Nothing is worse than finding out the client had a "hidden server" that was really a PC acting as a server (who hasn't seen this?) when they come back to you six months after you've been backing up their servers and they want you to restore everything because it failed.
Now why should you care about the primary server application? This can help your sales and engineering teams make sure that the client is following best practices and that you don't miss any additional required software needed to restore the service running on that server.
A good example is Exchange. For a server running Exchange, you are going to most likely need third party software (like Kroll OnTrack) to perform granular restores from the Exchange database. Microsoft SQL Servers also provide their own unique challenge, as you may need to have a special backup agent installed to get the data off the server correctly. You will also want to make sure that the client realizes that your backup is NOT a good replacement for the SQL maintenance plan. SQL maintenance does more than just "back up" the database; it also properly grooms the database and checks the overall integrity of it.
Specifying the volume name AND its in-use space can save you a lot of grief in the future. This is especially critical if the client has the ability to add volumes without you being notified. The in-use space will be a basis for other points in the contract.
Bottom Line: Make sure to list what you are backing up so there are no misunderstandings between you and your client.
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Note: This is only part one of our blog. Next month we will talk about getting the data off site, whose responsibility it is, and how to protect you and your company. Rich Reiffer is VP of Cloud Practice at Zenith Infotech. Rich has been in the business of technology since the dark ages starting with Burroughs Corp., spending time with Steve Jobs (NeXT) and Ray Noorda (Novell). Rich has been in the VAR channel since the mid 80's with companies like Inacomp and Businessland finally forming his own company, Trivalent, in 1991. After 20 years of building data centers, etc. Rich has come on board with Zenith to head up the Cloud group. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.