[Updated: Nov 6, 2017] to include Disc imaging, Self Hosted, Cloud Storage, and Web Console.
MSP Online Backup: What to look for when selecting a platform
It’s hard to choose software when you’re a MSP providing online backup. [MSP online backup & Reseller Program]
There are many choices, so getting priorities straight helps when choosing what you’re going to base your business on. Here are some tips on MSP Online Backup Software: you can prioritize these as it suits you, which hopefully makes your own analysis easier.
- White Label or Private Label Remote Backup Client: If you’re an MSP, you need to place your brand front and center, first because it’s easier to sell Managed Services to a customer when they see the add-on service as yours, and second because you want to remind them that your service is comprehensive, and that the online backup is not just some commodity consumer-grade junk that costs $5.95 a year and is worth much less.
- Proactive Monitoring: Since you are on the hook to manage your customers’ systems, make it simple for yourself by choosing a package that alerts you when you need to take action. A central management console which can show you accounts which have not backed up in a certain time, or which have errors, and excellent logfiles which enable you to identify potential problems in a few simple clicks will save you money and aggravation in spades, and reduce your support costs while ensuring that you can restore when you need to: after all, it’s human error which usually makes backups unreliable, so having the system monitor can greatly reduce problems. At the minimum, the alerts should tell you which clients have not backed up in a few days (you hopefully can set tolerance limits per client), which clients have not sent data in a certain number of days, and which clients have errors.
- Multiple Billing Metrics: Some customers want to be billed by how much they are storing, but many customers now want to pay based on what they protect. Since most online backup platforms for MSPs provide some kind of compression, there may be multiple of each metric. Add de-duplication to the mix, and things get downright complicated. Our experience says that customers will complain about their bill if it’s based on compression, deduping, or other technology not under their control. If you bill them based on what they’ve selected to backup (i.e. what they’re protecting) those arguments are much less, and so you have lower customer questions and complaints, and generally higher satisfaction as customers’ data grows.
- Integration into your ticketing system: Most MSPs have a trouble ticket system, almost all of which provide some kind of gateway for other apps to create tickets. Many are email based, others are web-service based. Whatever the case, make sure the backup system can automatically create relevant and actionable tickets: you don’t want to reinvent your tech support operations based on a backup platform.
- FAST restores (I personally place this at the top of the list). Before you buy any platform, test how fast it restores. Some of this will be dependent on network performance, but unless you’re interested in reselling a backup service, the network will be the same no matter which platform you choose. Simply testing one file doesn’t give you the whole story though. Let’s say you backup a database daily for 20 days. Many MSP online backup servers will store 1 original file, plus 19 incremental diffs (patches which must be applied to the original file in sequence to recreate the most recent copy). So when you go to restore, you have to wait until the database is rebuilt 19 times (once for each patch) before the most recent copy is available to begin download. Seems simple, right? What if the database is 5GB or 10GB? Writing a 10GB file 20 times means some serious delay, and when you get into larger businesses where there are many such files, or a few very large files, means you had better test your intended system: there’s nothing like having to call your customer every 10 minutes for 5 hours while the server rebuilds a file (that’s 30 calls, for the math impaired 😉 to tell them “Just a few more minutes.”
- RELIABLE restores! Along with the long restore issue, there’s another big issue when dealing with storing only differentials on the server: one can’t compare checksums on the most recent file to ensure everything is as it should be. One bad patch in the string of 28, and there’s no file to restore!!! Even worse, the only time you’re going to know this is if you do a restore (when you don’t need more bad news anyways). So look for software that keeps full copies for changing files.
- Disc Imaging – the ability to create full recoverable Windows disc images or System State backups recovery media and upload them offsite to a secure remote vault, on a scheduled plan.
- Inexpensive storage – WholesaleBackup allows you the MSP to host your own backup and recovery data on your own Windows Server, AWS S3 or Google Cloud Platform. This allows you to maximize your profitability and not pay the middleman for hosting the data.
- Web Console – with the Backup Management Web Console it provides you the ability to monitor and manage all your backup accounts from one central location, set up reporting, triage, and export storage data for quick billing. Login to it from any web browser.
So make sure whatever you do, put the potential solutions you’re testing through their paces, and buy the one that’s going to make you the most money, and let you sleep at night.