Could you put your hand on your heart and say that you are completely confident that all of your clients have backups working the way they should?
If you still have customers swapping tapes or drives, then it's unlikely you can give an honest "yes" to the question. Perhaps it is time to think about managed online backup.
Most IT consultants will have lost count of the times they have had to have a stern word with a client about backup problems. Anything from client failure to take drives offsite to secretaries forgetting to change tapes can cause a serious disaster.
Sadly, unless disaster actually happens, your reprimands are likely to fall on deaf ears. The only time clients seem to take these conversations seriously is just after they have experienced data loss that has cost them personally in time or money.
Thankfully, managed online backup services have the ability to finally give you back control - and will probably make you some money in the process.
While no backup regime should ever be configured and forgotten, moving clients over to online backup services at least means that you can personally oversee daily backups and no longer have to rely on internal staff. For these, checking the backup log and changing the drive is probably one of many daily responsibilities and easily forgotten.
While the advantages of online backup may be clear to you as an IT consultant, they may be less so to the average client. The following advantages are worth highlighting:
1. Cost Savings: Although backing up company data to a data center will have a monthly cost attached, there are also consumable and software costs associated with traditional backups. Backup tapes and drive cartridges have a finite life, and should be frequently replaced. Once this is taken into account, online backup services can often work out cheaper over the medium to long term.
2. Disaster Recovery: Managed backup services generally offer far more flexible disaster recovery options, especially if it becomes necessary to operate from a new site. Data can simply be retrieved over the Internet from the data center.
3. Security: Having data duplicated in a data center some distance away provides better security for data in the event of a significant disaster. A backup device stolen in the same robbery as the server or burned in the same fire as the server is of no use to anybody!
4. Automation: The checking of logs can be done by you as a consultant or by the online backup provider – shifting responsibility and accountability.
There is no reason why managed online backup cannot be used alongside traditional local backup methods. Indeed, wise IT consultants always make use of two backup methods. After all, the more options available in a restore scenario, the better.
If you decide to move your clients in the direction of online backup services, you will be spoiled for choice. Managed backup providers will be lining up to offer you reseller agreements and tempting commission.
The important thing is to choose and use a service that you have full confidence in. No backup solution should be considered fully implemented until detailed restore checks have been performed. This is especially important if you decide to use full server image backups – the cost of these cannot be justified unless you are confident that they can provide the fast business continuity they are designed for.
Once these systems are implemented, all you have to do is take seriously the log checking and ensure client’s data is safe. Most importantly, don’t forget to charge them appropriately for this new peace of mind!
Just a quick video for the nostalgic ones out there. This is a video from a test of a Data General 6021/6023 firing up for the first time after refurbishment. Original year of manufacture - 1978!