Why MSPs must offer their customers backup and disaster recovery (BDR) support

| By:
Dave LeClair

A managed service provider’s (MSP’s) customers want to feel assured that their data is safe from any number of threats. New pressures of the hybrid workforce, cloud computing and storage, and a rapidly growing number of endpoints have many organizations on their toes when it comes to their cybersecurity.

In fact, 68% of business leaders now feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing. While advanced techniques employed by cybercriminals pose a serious risk, organizations must also safeguard against data loss due to natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Even something as simple as a harddrive malfunction could become detrimental without a plan in place.

Keeping customers’ data safe doesn’t just mean protecting it from exposure; it also requires a proactive approach to backing up and recovering data when needed.

What is Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR)?

We define BDR as a combination of data storage and recovery procedures that work cohesively to ensure an organization’s business continuity.

Data backup for the modern small and medium-sized business (SMB) can appear to be a daunting task: Think about how many files move through a company’s network in a single business day — let alone how many legacy files are stored across the cloud, user devices, and network servers. A solid backup strategy needs to be continuous while still maintaining efficiency in properly storing document versions or even deleted files without needlessly increasing the cost of data storage.

The recent ransomware attack on JBS, a global meat production and packaging facility, presents a timely example of BDR in action. In this cyberattack, hackers exfiltrated sensitive company data and threatened publicizing this critical information if a ransom was not paid. Thanks to the company’s proactive BDR strategy, operations were only stalled for one day while data was restored from the organization’s strong data backup infrastructure. Damages from the cyberattack were minimized by limiting downtime; especially when compared to the harm inflicted by a similar ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline resulting in more than six days of downtime.

Every MSP Should Offer BDR Support

When safeguarding your customers’ data is your mission, a lack of proper data backup and recovery would be a monumental oversight.

A key advantage that MSPs promise their customers is business continuity, so the ability to minimize the cost of downtime can become a primary indicator of a successful partnership. If data is lost or systems crash — whether due to a cyberattack, technical issue, human error or natural disaster — business comes to a standstill. Profits can only be as secure as the network is resilient. Customers will turn to their MSP in these times of crisis to minimize their damage and resume business as usual.

Modern BDR solutions offer a secure, fast, and continuous data backup approach and seamless data recovery through cloud-based architecture. The alternatives, such as having data withheld in an increasingly prevalent ransomware attack or having to restore data from scratch after a natural disaster, present a stark contrast to the peace of mind that BDR can provide both the MSP and their customer.

MSPs’ Options for Data Backup

A data backup plan needs to take various considerations into mind. Will storage be on-site or in the cloud? Will outdated versions or deleted files be stored? If so, for how long? What is the appropriate backup window?

Many of these factors require taking an organization’s unique data storage needs into account. This has resulted in several options to choose from when it comes to providing data backup support to your customers.

Let’s review the backup types and storage solutions that MSPs can consider or even combine, along with the pros and cons of each.

Backup Technologies

Full backupIncremental backup chartMirror backup chart

Data storage locations

Local backup chartCloud/remote backup chartHybrid backup chart

Additional Considerations When Choosing a Backup Solution

IT teams traditionally measured downtime that was tied to a server or device, but cyberthreats  require that teams also prepare for the downtime of an application. For example, if your e-commerce website cannot process a payment due to application data loss, then the cost of downtime multiplies significantly.

A critical decision maker in choosing a backup solution is the applications that a customer is using. This factor introduces two application objectives to explore:

Understanding recovery point objective’s (RPO’s) role in BDR

Recovery point objective is defined by the amount of data an organization can stand to lose in an outage. To understand this, consider an application you use and how much data your organization can afford (measured in time) to lose before it drastically affects your business. 

For example, if you cannot afford to lose more than an hour of data on application A, then you should have a backup that runs as often as at least an hour or less. Thus your RPO becomes 1 hour or less. Similarly, if your business cannot afford to have application B lose more than 15 minutes of Data, then for application B, your RPO would be 15 minutes or less.

Understanding recovery time objective’s (RTO’s) role in BDR

Recovery time objective instead measures the time an organization can spend in an outage before experiencing drastic consequences.

To understand this, consider the same applications as above. Here consider, if applications went down, how much downtime your organization could withstand. 

For example, if you cannot afford to lose application A for more than eight hours before it will drastically affect your business. Thus the RTO for your application would be 8 hours. 

Similarly, if your business cannot afford to have application B down for more than one hour, then for application B, your RTO would be 1 hour or less.

The considerations of RPO and RTO are important because of their implications on backup solution costs. As the value of RTO and RPO get closer to zero, the backup solution becomes more costly. This price could increase exponentially the closer you get to zero, making the balance between adequate BDR coverage and cost an important element of the right solution for your organization.

A Backup Strategy is Nothing Without Disaster Recovery

While we’ve discussed these two crucial points of a related cybersecurity procedure, data backup and disaster recovery are not the same thing. These two elements need to work together seamlessly to present the key BDR advantage: damage-proof, long-term business continuity.

To assist customers in limiting the damage and downtime following an incident, an MSPs disaster recovery solution needs to be both reliable and fast-acting. Cloud-based remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools are the best option for recovering data in a rapid, transparent fashion.

Selling the Advantages of BDR Support

It would be easy to give your customers nightmares of the scenario they’re facing without packaging BDR solutions into your MSP scope. From coffee spilled on a laptop, to a headline-making ransomware attack, your customers are increasingly aware of the importance of securing their data.

But, if you prefer to leave them with a more positive impression, you’ll share the knowledge that a proactive and dependable BDR solution means better and more efficient data storage, minimized costs of downtime, and peace of mind in the face of growing cybersecurity threats. 

For MSPs to offer full-scale secure network operations, BDR is a crucial capability to get right. Reliable BDR is the only way to offer customers a truly resilient strategy for business continuity.