Guest Column | August 22, 2013

3 Considerations For Selecting A Winning BDR Solution

By Robert Bush, product management, Unitrends

MSPs need to consider many factors when selecting a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution for their customers: functionality, price, ease-of-use, manageability, scalability, deployment, flexibility — the list goes on. But, don’t get overwhelmed. The following three considerations will help you keep the BDR evaluation process simple and put you well on your way to providing a flexible, scalable, efficient, and cost-effective solution that satisfies your entire customer portfolio.  

1. Hybrid Cloud Backup

Cloud backup is often touted as “the next big thing” in data protection. And who can argue? Its many benefits include reduced costs, scalability, and simplicity. But, there is one major disadvantage that accompanies pure cloud backup solutions — lag time on data transfer to and from the cloud. Unfortunately, many MSPs fail to take this into consideration and find out the hard way when trying to move the initial data set to the cloud or recover in the event of a disaster.

Data is increasing at a staggering rate such that WAN performance cannot cost-effectively keep pace, leaving a major gap between on-premise and off-premise (cloud) performance. What does this mean? In simple terms, when using a pure cloud backup solution, backup windows can be lengthy and, perhaps more importantly, if a disaster strikes or data is lost, it could take a significant amount of time for critical data to be recovered. Companies do not have months to wait for their data to become accessible, leaving them vulnerable to an impending disaster that could cause significant risk to their businesses.

Hybrid cloud backup to the rescue:the best way to expedite backup windows and data recovery while getting the added benefits of the cloud is to pair a cloud backup solution with an on-premise backup appliance. On-premise appliances leverage the local LAN, so backup and recovery functions are much quicker. In conjunction, data is still getting replicated to the cloud solution, providing a safety net in the event that an on-site location is compromised. 

The cloud is a very important implementation vehicle for backup and recovery strategies, but it needs to be used in a way that leverages its strengths and supplements for its weakness.  BDR solutions that support a hybrid cloud model will offer customers the best of both worlds and the best support of continued business continuity in the event of a disaster.

2. Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives

When it comes to selecting a BDR solution, MSPs should carefully consider those that meet their customers’ recovery point objectives (RPOs) — or the maximum amount of data (in terms of time) that they can afford to lose — and recovery time objectives (RTOs) — or the maximum amount of time that they can afford to be without their data and systems.

The speed at which data is growing within organizations means backup and data recovery times are growing longer and meeting RPOs and RTOs is becoming increasingly more difficult. The only way to combat this is through advanced BDR functionality. Most BDR vendors include data about RPOs and RTOs on their websites and within their marketing materials, but they often quote best-case scenarios. Don’t take this information at face value. Engage potential vendors in a deep discussion about their solutions and BDR feature sets and how each stacks up with your customers’ RPO and RTO requirements. Remember, when it comes to data protection and recovery, these are the two greatest indicators of success.

3. Total Cost of Ownership

Labor expense is often the biggest cost driver for any MSP. When it comes to backup and recovery, the underlying drivers of labor cost can be vast. Increased complexity of a product will drive training and resource costs sky-high. Low-quality products can result in a higher number of customer incidents and increasing numbers of dedicated resources needed to resolve incidents. The need for multiple backup products to support customer environments will drive up cost in the need for additional trained resources and vender management.

A product’s total cost of ownership (TCO) goes well beyond its price tag. Solutions that include enterprise-class functionality while remaining easy to deploy, use and support will provide better TCO — even if the initial cost is higher. Flexibility and scalability are other big considerations to keep in mind. Is the BDR solution you’re considering agile and adaptable? Will it offer an effective solution for your entire heterogeneous customer base? MSPs are all operating at different maturity levels, targeting a wide range of customer sizes, ranging from very small businesses to large enterprises. The key here is to select a cost-effective solution with advanced functionality that supports your entire customer base. In short, balancing overall TCO with a product that meets the flexibility and feature needs of your customer base will ultimately yield the best ROI.

MSPs achieve success by providing awesome service offerings and doing so at the lowest possible cost. This can be a difficult task when customers come in all different sizes with a myriad of deployed technologies. Just remember to keep it simple by utilizing the least complex and smallest number of products needed to achieve the required feature functionality. Doing so will put you on the path to selecting the best product to grow your MSP business and achieve desired results.