John Pearring, VP of STORServer, provides insight into what retailers demand from storage solutions.
Q: What are retailers’ expectations of a storage solution provider?
Pearring: Any MSP (managed services provider) providing storage or data center space to a customer should have a product option for data protection for their customers. The physical hand-off of servers and information to an MSP almost always includes a customer expectation that their data will be protected.
Q: Does the retail vertical have specific backup and disaster recovery needs?
Pearring: First and foremost, the best practices for backup, archive, and disaster recovery move from the customer to the MSP. That means, no matter what level of service level agreement (SLA) has been put in place, the MSP takes on the responsibility of recovery, including restores of backups and retrieves for any archives. Not only must the MSP assure the customer that all data and information housed with the MSP is safe, they must also assure that it can be recovered in a timely manner. “Timely” must be defined and outlined to a customer.
Q: How should an MSP respond to a retailer’s need to keep data private and secure?
Pearring: Privacy forces an MSP to provide only the highest quality offerings with full enterprise capability, authentication, and encryption (both in transfer and in storage).
Q: What's the #1 metric MSPs should be monitoring?
Pearring: In the data recovery space, customers want to know what they are paying for. Storage today typically marks the baseline for charges in data protection. Rather than charge by the physical or virtual machine, customers look for “capacity” in their purchasing decisions. The metric for the entire MSP discussion with customers centers on how much capacity they’ll get charged for. Front-end Terabyte (FET) charges reflect how much actual data a customer wants protected. Back-end Terabyte charges reflect the eventual amount of backup space used. FET motivates a customer to hone the catalog of data they want to be protected without concern for the number of versions and space required by the MSP. Back-end capacity urges conservative retention policies. In both situations, deduplication can reduce the amount of eventual storage used — shifting the concern for shrinking backup storage management back and forth. FET puts the storage concern upon the MSP, and back-end capacity becomes the customer’s storage concern.