As I write this, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 23 games above .500 and sit in first place in the NL Central. If we can win just 10 more games, we’ll have our first winning season since 1992. It’s a heady time for Pittsburgh baseball fans.
But we’ve had a few hiccups. In the past two weeks, we’ve lost twice by allowing the opponent to score 10 or more runs. This is somewhat of a pattern for the Pirates. When they play well, they’re great … but when they lose, they often lose magnificently. They’ve given up seven or more runs 10 times in their 48 losses. On the flip side, the Pirates have allowed three or fewer runs in 56 of their 71 wins.
This season, the Pirates remind me of the work of an MSP. Usually, things are humming along well. You provide maintenance and support to keep everything running with only minor issues occasionally. But when things go wrong, sometimes they go disastrously wrong. When a server crashes, your client can be out of commission for days with significant data loss.
One of the top IT priorities for businesses is backup and recovery. It might be rarely needed, but when the unexpected strikes, it’s a lifesaver. For businesses that utilize an MSP, rapid and full recovery is a deal-breaker expectation. With that in mind, you need to understand what clients really expect and how to deliver it.
What do clients expect from a backup service?
Clients don’t actually care about the backup process itself. They care that they can always access their data, that you can recover in a few seconds a current copy of a file that was just deleted, and that you can get them up and running quickly after a disaster. In other words, it’s about uptime and functionality, not data storage.
What features does your BDR solution need?
Babe Ruth once said, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Yesterday’s backup and recovery technologies won’t give you the service level or customer satisfaction you need to grow your business, either. Your BDR solution needs to incorporate:
1. Compatibility and capacity – ensure OS, software and hardware compatibility. Your secondary storage must accommodate your current data and data growth for several years.
2. VM-aware – if your client virtualizes servers, your backup solution should be designed for virtual systems. It should be compatible with their hypervisor, back up multiple VMs simultaneously, and automatically detect and protect new/moved VMs.
3. Storage efficiency – look for a system that takes block-level (rather than file-level) backups to ensure that your secondary storage doesn’t reach capacity in a matter of months.
4. Snapshot technology – Snapshots let you record data almost continuously and recover data from a specific point in time. 15-minute snapshots are sufficient for most SMBs, and you should archive monthly snapshots.
5. Minimal performance impact – a backup solution should not bog down network capacity or speed. Onsite solutions have the advantage of working over the LAN. If you use a hosted or cloud solution, ensure you have sufficient network bandwidth and system IOPS.
6. Failover capabilities – if a protected machine fails, your backup solution should be able to run a failover machine with acceptable performance until replacement hardware is obtained.
7. Rapid restore – your BDR solution should easily recover individual files and folders. It should also be able to perform a bare metal restore without significant downtime.
8. Replication – fire, flooding, theft, vandalism, storms. Lots of things can take out a whole site. To provide disaster recovery, you need offsite storage. Full remote functionality and automatic replication are ideal.
9. Reasonable rates – it can be hard for clients to justify the expense of backup services they rarely need to use, particularly if they aren’t in a natural disaster-prone area. If the solution provides other services (e.g., a testing environment, primary storage), that’s even better.
The good news for the Pirates is that we seem certain to win at least 81 games and possibly earn a playoff run. MSPs need to bat closer to 1.000, however, because one failure could spell the end of your contract. As Ted Williams wisely pointed out, “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
John McCallum is Vice President of Sales, Zenith Infotech. Zenith Infotech specializes in delivering enterprise-class IT solutions for virtualization, storage, and business continuity for IT providers. Zenith’s TigerCloud converged infrastructure and DRaaS powered by the BDR-G14 solutions enable SMBs to deliver Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service. Learn more at www.zenithinfotech.com or email [email protected].