There’s no denying the importance of effective backup and data protection technology in today’s IT landscape. Ensuring that customer information is properly protected – and accessible at all times – is an absolute necessity.
For Managed IT Services Providers (MSPs), the challenge lies in finding the right backup technology that can give them even a slight edge against the competition. True to its name, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) technology can provide exactly that. Here's how.
What is Continuous Data Protection?
Continuous Data Protection (CDP) is a cost-effective and resource-efficient alternative to traditional backup technology. Legacy backup solutions are becoming less desirable for small businesses and impractical for MSPs because they create an image of the entire system every time a backup runs. In contrast, CDP allows you to store data more efficiently by backing up at the block level. In other words, the technology looks at changes, “or deltas,” in the data set and only executes backups of these blocks, rather than the entire file. So, for instance, if you need to back up a client's budget spreadsheet, you have the flexibility of backing up only those file changes that occurred since the last restore point, rather than creating an entire new copy of the full document. Scale this up to the level of client sites with multiple servers and dozens of desktops and storage savings become remarkable.
Let's examine the benefits further. Here are four reasons why your backup solution should be powered by CDP:
1. More Frequent Backups
Does your current backup window frustrate your technicians? Perhaps they'd like to schedule backups more frequently, but with the time it takes to successfully complete a single backup it's just not feasible. The amount of data your clients amass grows at an exponential rate. If you're using a traditional backup solution, as the amount of data that needs to be processed increases, each new backup will become agonizingly slower. At some point – and paradoxically, this point is reached quickly – your techs will be forced to schedule backups during less ideal, low-activity periods like weekends or after-hours. And if they run into backup failures and are forced to work maintenance during those off hours, you may end up paying higher labor overhead!
Rather than incur these costs and restrain your team in this way, leveraging Continuous Data Protection technology provides a shorter backup window, enabling techs to take more frequent backups and shrinking your recovery point objective (RPO).
2. Minimal Impact on Server Performance
Just as any person can become "brain fried" when absorbing too much information all at once, servers can slow or even go offline indefinitely if overtaxed. Just think about how DDoS attacks crash systems by flooding servers with series of packets, data, or transactions. Though the slowness associated with traditional backups described above isn't as severe, it is directly related to server performance. When your brain is fried, how productive are you? At some point, you reach your limit and give out. Hey, that latest episode of Westworld isn't going to watch itself, right? Servers act similarly. By nature of how traditional backups work, legacy solutions require servers to not only read but store significantly more data. Conversely, CDP doesn't ask for too much all at once. With it, servers only have to process incremental changes that occur between backups so you don't have to worry about overwhelming and exhausting system resources for long periods of time.
Server performance directly impacts your clients’ ability to maintain uptime and productivity. Unplanned downtime and business inefficiency can severely harm their profitability and, in turn, strain the relationship you've built with them. If you're running a traditional backup during business hours and a service disruption occurs, depending on the damage, you could lose that client. Rather than running that risk or boxing yourself into a corner with off-hours backup windows, continue to be your clients' trusted advisor by offering Continuous Data Protection.
3. More Efficient Storage
What if you want to create an image capturing the state of your client's server at every hour for an entire business week? CDP saves disk space by only storing the absolute minimum amount of data needed to represent the unique disk sectors for those points in time. Because you only need to perform a full backup once, you are essentially recycling that data over and over again without taking up any extra disk space.
By eliminating the heavy disk usage that’s become synonymous with traditional data backups, CDP offers an innovative and smart alternative to legacy data backup methods and technologies. A relief to your bottom line, it minimizes the amount of storage used on the appliance or in the cloud, keeping storage costs low and more manageable.
4. Increased Client Confidence
Clients shouldn't have to choose between data protection and system performance. With CDP, they don't have to! As their virtual CIO, you can provide the peace of mind they need to continue running their business securely and efficiently. It's no longer enough to simply offer data backup. Business continuity is now the new standard, but one not supported by traditional backup solutions. Even if you're performing nightly backups, day-old recovery points don't cut it anymore. The modern, increasingly mobile workforce demands 24x7x365 access to data. Should disaster strike, they need to be able to resume business operations ASAP.
As savvy computer users, you know to "save often" when working in any document for an extended period of time. Otherwise, if your computer crashed, you'd have to make up hours of work. The same analogy applies here. Since CDP allows you to take more frequent backups, clients receive improved recovery points, resulting in less data loss and increased productivity. Additionally, they're able to maintain business efficiency because the block-level backups you schedule during the work day won't consume network bandwidth.
What do all of these benefits add up to? Increased client confidence. Considering that managed IT services is a business built on relationships, the more trust you can instill in your team and technology, the better. Client satisfaction should be at the center of every key decision you make, like evaluating which backup and disaster recovery (BDR) platform is right for you. If the IT solutions you offer impede their ability to expand their business, you'll soon face the same stagnated growth.
BDR is a core technology in today’s IT landscape and an absolute must-have in any MSP portfolio. And while effective security and data protection are essential features in any BDR solution, it’s also important to find an offering that’s efficient and cost-effective. By intelligently identifying and backing up only data which has changed and minimizing server impact, Continuous Data Protection technology offers a smart and scalable backup methodology that can help MSPs effectively protect client data while maximizing their margins.
By Dave LeClair
By Meaghan Moraes