So, you’ve just gained a new client that wants to leverage your business continuity services. That’s great! But what’s the next step? As their MSP, you’re promising to ensure continuous uptime and complete data protection, so you need to be backed with the right technology. An essential component to your BDR offering is the appliance itself – but the challenge is that these machines can come in many different shapes and sizes.
Finding the right BDR appliance isn’t an easy task, and it means putting in the time to evaluate exactly what your client’s needs are. You need to understand the benefits of each solution and their requirements before settling on the best choice for you and your client. So what exactly should you consider when searching for a new BDR appliance?
BDR Appliance Considerations
Number of Servers
Finding the right solution starts with determining the number of servers that need to be protected. This is the first step in ensuring that all your bases are covered. For any BDR client, you should evaluate which systems you’re going to back up and take that into consideration when sizing your appliance.
Data Quantity and Regulations
How much data do you need to back up for your client? Many SMBs rely on data for day-to-day operations, so it’s important that you’re able to not only back up their data, but have the proper capacity to do so. Keep in mind that the amount can vary based on the time of year and even the type of business. For example, a small mom-and-pop shop won’t have the same data storage needs as a dentist office. Similarly, you should take the type of data into consideration. Does your client need to comply with HIPAA regulations? If so, there are certain parameters you need to be aware of and safeguards you need to have in place as their MSP.
Number of Concurrent Jobs
Find a solution that allows you to perform at your best. To do this, think about what you’re using your BDR appliance for. Are you planning to use the appliance solely for backup management? Or do you want to use it for failover purposes or virtualization? The appliance you utilize can impact the types of jobs you need to perform, and the right solution should allow you to get multiple jobs done at the same time.
Now it’s time to start thinking about how much space you’ll need. Sizing the BDR appliance is how you control the variables I listed above. It impacts how well you’re able to perform certain jobs and support multiple servers and data. When sizing an appliance, there are two main things you should look at:
- Memory – The amount of memory you need depends on the number of protected servers, the amount of data and your retention policy.
- Storage Capacity – You will need enough storage to hold the full backup image for each system you’re protecting, plus all of the incremental images stored for retention. You should also ensure that you have the space needed for new images over the next 1-2 years, or however long you deem necessary.
Build or Buy
When it comes to the appliance, you need to ask yourself if you’re going to build your own or buy it off the shelf or from a vendor. Average lifetime, hardware performance, failure rates and price point will all vary depending on the vendor and the type of appliance, so it’s important to do your homework and weigh all your options when developing an optimal BDR offering.
BDR Business Considerations
By now you should realize just how diverse different use cases can be. There are a lot of technical options to consider, but as a business owner you should also be thinking about how choosing any one of these options can impact daily operations.
Sell or Lease
Some MSPs might decide to outright buy the BDR hardware, mark it up and resell it to their clients. Other MSPs might find it more profitable to lease the hardware to the client and retain ownership of it in case things don’t work out. Like any business decision, there are pros and cons to doing it either way, but it’s most important to determine which option is best for your business.
The main value of BDR is that your clients’ data stays secure and easily accessible – and having offsite storage can augment that value. If you’re thinking, “well wait a minute, I don’t have the resources to build or host my own datacenter,” don’t worry. There are solutions that can back up data to a local appliance and then replicate that data to an offsite location. This capability allows for more reliability and can provide you and your clients with true peace of mind knowing that business continuity will be maintained even in a disaster scenario.
However, if you are thinking about hosting it yourself, you need to consider two key elements. First, who is responsible for managing it, and for what additional time and cost? And second, what does that mean for your clients? If you’re hosting and only have one datacenter, what happens if your clients need secondary offsite locations? Are you able to provide that, and at what cost? Or, do you make the decision to go with a nicely packaged, fully-managed BDR solution and not worry about it?
Which Solution Is Right for You?
The reality is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to finding the right BDR appliance. There are a lot of different factors to consider and decisions to be made when it comes to hardware. However, the solution that's best for you is the one that's best for your clients. Remember that this is a service business, so you need to focus on finding a business continuity solution that allows you to best serve your clients.
One way to do this is to work with a BDR platform that is hardware agnostic. This feature allows you to optimize your service delivery, scale your costs and obtain a higher level of efficiency. How? By freeing you from the more traditional vender approach of having to use or rely on a specific device – giving you the flexibility to choose the hardware that best suits the needs of your clients.
Some BDR solutions will insist that you purchase their hardware along with their software, even if it isn’t ideal for you or your clients. With a hardware independent solution, you have the option of buying new hardware, re-using existing hardware, or leasing hardware from a vendor. This can help protect your margins because you won’t have to terminate reseller contracts. It also gives you the flexibility to choose the hardware that is best-suited for each individual client and source it however you like.
Continuum BDR is a fully-managed, hardware agnostic platform that allows you to choose the hardware vendor that best fits your clients’ needs and set up whichever configurations are best-suited for each environment. Click here to start a trial of Continuum BDR and one of our specialists will help you get started!
Now that you've found the perfect BDR appliance, it's time to start selling:
By Meaghan Moraes
By Gretchen Hoffman
By Dave LeClair