One of the things we've seen over the years while talking to different customers is old backup technologies never really die. They become like an undead monster, often just getting patched together—a Frankenstein-like mix of different pieces and parts. A lot of companies' backup solutions look just like this, using multiple products and types of media—in other words, a mess.
Of course, everybody contends with budget realities, and many IT people have inherited something from a predecessor. There's a lot of technology that's been around for a while, but it's still serviceable and inexpensive to replace, so it's easy to just keep it around as you're adding the newer things.
Here are some of the different technologies that can cause problems for companies.
When spinning disk—and then eventually flash—came into play, vendors assumed tape was just going to go in the garbage bin of history, but it hasn't. A lot of that is because it is so affordable. But while it's very inexpensive, it's also vulnerable. If it’s stored at the wrong temperature, it can be degraded. For example, what if a tape drive is in a remote office sitting in a closet under a water pipe, and the water pipe bursts? On top of this, to get it off-site, often companies load up their tape drives and hand them to a service that would take them away to remote storage. It seems kind of antiquated now to literally hand crucial business data to a stranger who's going to drive away with it.
There was a big moment when virtualization first came out, and VMware brought it to the current architecture. It became a big thing and we saw a new generation of backup providers come into play who were virtual-first. That became very popular, and prompted the legacy providers to say, "Oh, we do virtual, too." This typically meant they just patched it on. Many also typically needed an agent deployed to each server that was going to be protected. For physical servers, that might have been fine, but for virtualized servers that have maybe 10 or 20 or 50 virtual machines on one physical server, that equates to 10 or 20 or 50 agents. Not everybody found that appealing. The virtual-first backup products would work at the hypervisor level and that was considered more efficient.
While a special backup product may be in use for virtual servers, there may still be physical servers out there that require a different backup product. They have to be managed in two separate places—two consoles, two software products, two licenses, two vendors. That takes a lot more time, potentially creates risk, and doesn’t scale. It makes everything more complex.
The next thing to come into play was the cloud. Everyone talks about the cloud, and that caused many of the virtual-first and the traditional backup providers to say, "Oh, we do cloud too," and adapt for that. Often they would do this through partnership with a cloud provider, whether it was a local cloud services provider or one of the big public cloud providers. They would often give the customer the choice: bring your own cloud, you choose. That freedom of choice is nice, but it also brings more complexity because it adds another vendor, another support ticket to file, and another layer that's been patched onto the old backup product.
Everyone likes freedom of choice, but it's more convenient with a single vendor that provides everything: the software, the hosted storage, support, billing, etc. It simplifies things.
So, how do MSPs move to a more centralized solution that's easier to manage, saves time, and is more secure?
MSPs have a range of different customers, some of whom probably don't even know what backup system they're using, and there are some who rely on their service providers to just make their computers work. Those are the dream clients, and for them, the MSP can use whatever product they think makes the most sense… and it's invisible to the customer. For the others that do have a preference, there are several ways to deal with it, including considering mandating use of preferred systems as part of the contract.
At first, customers may object, thinking, "This is an added expense, and I don't really want to pay for it." However, the headlines around ransomware are helping to change people’s minds. Getting down to a single product won’t work for everyone, of course, but simplifying and streamlining backup products is real progress, which can translate into real time and money savings.
To find out more about how to tame Frankenbackup, listen to our Podcast below:
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