Managed service providers (MSPs) are always looking for a technical advantage to further build out their billable service models. However, many new endeavors introduce risk and uncertainty, which are two elements most MSPs seek to avoid. Perhaps that is why many MSPs have shied away from offering custom backup services to their clients. After all, promising to recover a client’s backup data and supporting a service-level agreement (SLA) to match may be just too much risk for the typical MSP to take on.
However, MSP customers need backup services now more than ever, especially those customers that are moving into the cloud, creating hybrid cloud solutions, or under the throws of digital transformation. There is no denying it, backup is critically important to any business, regardless of size.
MSPs are simply throwing potential recurring revenue away if they do not pursue providing backup to their customers, or more specifically business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) services. Luckily, the landscape of BCDR solutions is rapidly changing, and vendors are looking for ways to partner with MSPs to offer advanced unified backup solutions. Much like the cloud services market in general, backup and BCDR services are evolving and moving deeper into the cloud while also leveraging automation and advanced intelligence to make backup an almost foolproof proposition.
That should be welcome news to MSPs looking to further flesh out their business models. Those same MSPs can now adopt unified backup solutions and distribute those solutions out to their customers without having to incur any hardware costs or even go through complex provisioning. The new breed of backup solutions leverage cloud technologies, allowing MSPs to set up the services on the cloud provider of their choice and build a multi-tenant model of managed backup and recovery solutions.
The key to success here comes in the form of partnerships with vendors that can provide the virtual technology to make backup a viable business service for almost any MSP. That said, MSPs should look for certain capabilities when delving into the world of backup. For example, the service selected should:
- Offer Unified Management: Policies, controls, reports, and management should come from a single console.
- Provide Multi-tenant Support: The platform should support the ability to handle multiple customers, each isolated from one another, yet still manageable from a single interface.
- Support Multiple Scenarios: Customers’ backup and BCDR needs vary; the platform should support multiple scenarios, such as continuous backup, support for archival backups, or support for hybrid clouds or even for a mix of on-prem and cloud-based deployments.
- Incorporate Automation: Intelligent automation can be a key time saver and help bring uniformity to processes, even when circumstances change.
- Offer Flexible Billing Options: MSPs should be able to charge for the services that they are delivering to their customers and incorporate mechanisms for scale.
For the most part, MSPs will see the biggest opportunities for building a managed service around BCDR is with the SMB market. SMBs are moving to the cloud at an accelerated rate, seeking to shift IT burdens out into the cloud while also moving toward an IT infrastructure that is more into OPEX than CAPEX. That said, many SMBs are not well educated on the concepts of BCDR, incorrectly thinking that just moving to the cloud makes a BCDR solution unnecessary. However, the truth is that BCDR services have become more important than ever.
SMBs need the flexibility to recover their solutions if they are hit with a malware or ransomware attack, or if they if they suffer some other disaster, such as loss of facility. While the cloud may offer some safety over an on-premise solution, if backups are not properly managed and recovery plans put into place, SMBs could still fall victim to numerous other problems.
The key here is to educate those customers, select a platform that removes worry from the equation, and then implement a solution that specifically meets customers’ needs. All tasks that MSPs are intimately familiar with, and can translate well into offering a BCDR solution as well.
MSPs looking to build additional service revenue should take a long hard look at the latest offerings from BCDR vendors.