How to Consolidate Data Protection Services for Greater Customer Value8:00 AM EST Fri. Oct. 19, 2012
Art Ledbetter, director of partnerships at Zetta.net, discusses moving your customers away from tape backup, and all its shortcomings, and toward a next-gen solution. —Jennifer Bosavage, editor
A new generation of integrated data protection can free your customers from the drudgery that is tape backup. More than half of all SMBs use tape for backup—and, while tape works, its functionality is limited. The daily manual chores are painful, and the extra hours do not benefit customers’ or service providers’ bottom lines.
Backup solutions being managed by service providers today are loaded with manual processes, low reliability and hidden costs.
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Next generation backup technologies let channel providers deliver a 3-in-1 solution to customers that combines offsite backup, disaster recovery, and data archiving in a single service that can be managed remotely. With that approach, customers can achieve much more comprehensive data protection services at a rate comparable to traditional backup alone.
The Offsite Backup ROI Calculator shows the cost difference between tape and next generation backup for a sample system: 2TB and 20 endpoints. Using this case as an example, the total cost of 1-year for next generation 3-in-1 backup would be $14,400, or 25 percent of traditional backup's cost of $56,000.
Each of the three pieces adds critical functionality for small and midsize companies that have grown tired of the chores involved with tape and the high cost of disk backup.
The importance of having an offsite backup option is well known, but with tape there is a time and cost investment which strains in-house IT teams. Backing up to a disk target does not fully solve the problem either since it is onsite. Neither do appliance based “cloud gateway” solutions that become a single-point-of-failure in the data center.
With next generation “3-in-1” backup, full featured software is installed on servers and laptops to backup data online to the provider’s data centers. Windows, Linux and Mac servers and laptops can backup to the same target as VMs, System State, SQL and Exchange databases. Such software has fully customizable version history.
An important characteristic of this new data protection class is that there is no licensing cost for backup software. If an online backup service has a pricing model based on per-server or per-workstation charges, that’s an indication the service is from the old guard of backup vendors.
For an SMB, adding disaster recovery is the single biggest strategic advantage of next generation backup. Until very recently disaster recovery was only affordable for large businesses.
What puts real, instant and granular disaster recovery in the hands of even small businesses is snapshot and replication technology. Since next generation backup solutions don’t hold data in a proprietary format, but instead in the native file system format, it’s simple for customers or even end-users to be able to recover individual files or folders that may have been accidentally deleted. Having three options for recovery is another key feature of the best next-gen backup solutions – customers choose between recovery via software client, web browser or mounted web drive. That capability is especially crucial after a true disaster scenario, when on-premise servers have been tossed around, toasted or drowned.
“50 to 95 percent of company data may not have been accessed or modified in the past 30 days,” according to StorageIO Group analyst Greg Schulz. Another advantage of next generation backup is the ability to create an online archive that frees up expensive local storage, but doesn’t drag out backup windows. “My rule of thumb is that you keep backup data for 30 to 90 days,” says Howard Marks, Chief Analyst at DeepStorage.net. “If you don’t need it for a restore by then, you aren’t likely to. But you may need it for something else.”
Marks goes on to note that archiving online is more useful than archiving locally, “If you have a central office and dozens of branch offices, cloud access is much more convenient.” The key point is that since the archived files aren’t being modified, the byte-level change detection algorithm that’s part of next-gen backup software knows not to keep transmitting the same file back and forth, saving local network resources in addition to storage.
Cost Benefits for SMB Customers
MSPs can offer this service to customers starting around $200 a month. That’s what small business would pay to cover 500GB of backup data – including offsite backup, disaster recovery, archiving, unlimited software licenses, and phone support.
While the pricing is similar, a defining difference between the kind of next generation business backup described here and large consumer cloud backup services is the enterprise-grade infrastructure and performance. A next-generation backup provider should use carrier-grade datacenters, enabled by technologies such as Juniper MX960s, 40GB/s internet connectivity, software that does SSL encryption in flight and at rest, and uses WebDAV for data transfer. This is what gives next-generation backup the speed and security advantage it has over the consumer-grade commodity cloud backup.
The only thing 3-in-1 next-gen backup shares with the consumer services is ease of deployment. Since there’s no hardware in the mix, most customers can set themselves up using a centralized web console in about 15 minutes.
Why VARs and Service Providers Should Be Excited About Next Generation Online Backup
Being able to deploy and manage a customer’s backup over the internet through your own office is not just excitingly convenient, but it will improve your margins. The employee time and gas savings alone will generate a bump to the bottom line.
The bottom line also benefits from having no hardware to deploy or swap out when it fails or upgrade time comes. What’s really exciting though is going to a customer and saying, “here’s what you’re paying for backup now, but I can add disaster recovery and archiving capabilities for you, and you’ll still be paying the same amount.”
That’s the competitive advantage next generation backup gives you over other MSPs who offer expensive or non-enterprise grade DR as a separate services for triple the price – or more.
MSPs should be excited about the next generation of backup because 3-in-1 offsite backup, disaster recovery, and archiving for just the price of backup gives your customers new technical capabilities they’ve never had, at the same time it gives service providers new revenue generating capabilities they’ve never had.
Tape versus cloud computing? No contest.