Managed service providers (MSPs) are always seeking opportunities to build out new service offerings, a trend that has led to some innovative “as a service” solutions. While those bandoleers of offerings increase, one element remains critical across all services: the need to back up data and applications associated with a given service.
In other words, MSPs should carefully consider the data loss implications of any new service and take the appropriate steps to back up both the data and applications to protect them from loss. Data protection is a lesson well learned by many, but usually only after a data loss occurs. On the plus side, there is very little stopping the savvy service provider from transforming backup ideologies into a service. After all, if a service provider is already in the business of backup to protect their own services, why not extend that as a service to clients?
That proves to be a rather simple question without a simple answer. It takes more than just a few changes to software settings to turn an internal backup process into an external service. That said, with a little forethought, some planning, and the appropriate partnering, any service provider should be able to make the leap into the backup as a service market, which could quickly become the crown jewel of any services portfolio.
Building a Backup as a Service Offering
There are multiple ways to build a backup as a service offering. Some MSPs may decide to roll their own by provisioning a service in their data center and license the appropriate software for each customer, while taking over the heaving lifting of provisioning, executing backups, and reporting on those backups, as well as building a management and billing platform. That approach proves to be very complex, labor intensive and requires a great deal of support. For completely custom and privatized backup solutions, building from scratch may be the only choice.
Yet, many MSPs have already partnered with ITSM solution providers, such as Kaseya, to manage their services, manage their clients, and manage all of the IT systems that they are already responsible for. The advantage here is that those MSPs already have a unified management platform in place that supports the concepts of IT hoteling (multi-tenant support) and is tied to their other management systems.
Simply put, adding a backup service to an existing group of service offerings ultimately proves to be much easier that creating a service from scratch. For the most part, the major backup vendors have partnered with ITSM providers, allowing MSPs to take a plug and play approach to incorporating backup services into their portfolio of offerings. Yet, not all vendors are created equal, and MSPs will need to partner with backup service vendors that can meet their particular set of needs. That said, MSPs should look for a backup services vendor that offers:
- Simplicity: The service should be easy to provision and operate, reducing the need for specialized training and support.
- Security: The service should incorporate the appropriate security technologies to protect customer data from interception, theft, malicious software, and other problems.
- Scalability: MSPs should be able to scale the service as needed, increasing or decreasing data storage on demand, as well as having performance controls and options.
- Service Flexibility: MSPs should partner with a provider that supports multiple flavors of backup, allowing them to move into the world of business continuity and disaster recovery, beyond just managed backup.
- Integration: Backup service providers that integrate with existing ITSM systems can save MSPs countless hours when it comes to provisioning, support, reporting, and even billing.
- Proven Technology: Bleeding-edge technologies should never be considered for backup. MSPs should choose only established and proven solutions, which are easy to validate, as well as demonstrate to potential customers as reliable.
For MSPs, launching a backup service proves straightforward when the right partners are involved, and the services are well-proven and well-supported.