MSPs and Online Backup: Compression Considerations

Scott Calonico

backup cloudIf, as an MSP, you’ve been working with online backup for any length of time you’ve probably come across a common problem: the inevitable growth of customer data and how to deal with it.

Consider the following common scenario:

An SME client with 100GB of data signs up to an online backup service at an agreed monthly cost. They are obviously aware that the price will increase in line with their volume of data, but seem unconcerned.

Six months later, the solution has ticked away happily, but there’s been no need for a restore and, as a file folder and world result, no opportunity for you to prove its worth.

Meanwhile, the amount of data stored at the data center has increased massively. Multiple backup generations, coupled with the customer’s decision to begin storing high-res scanned images without discussing it with you has lead to the service cost doubling.

Suddenly, the customer no longer thinks that the online backup solution is a good idea. Instead, they see it as nothing but a significant regular cost – or perhaps even a bit of a rip off.

This scenario is a genuine one, encountered by an MSP at a real-life customer site. It emphasizes an important point: it’s essential to consider compression when devising or reselling an online backup solution.

Clearly, if you are charging directly for online backup or receiving a commission stream, it is in your interests to see data volumes rise and invoices get larger – but only to a point. You need to get the balance right or, as in the scenario above, your customers may be scared away from online backup altogether.

So, with all that in mind, here are three considerations you should keep in mind relating to compression technology as part of your online backup solution:

  • How does your solution handle multiple backup generations? Are you paying for the same data to be backed up more than once?
  • How effectively does your solution cope with non file-level data, such as SQL databases and Exchange information stores? Ultimately, you want a balance between easy “brick level” restoration of the data and minimal use of storage.
  • How truly incremental is your incremental backup? Modern technologies such as IASO’s True Delta work at the low level of individual disk blocks, meaning that only information that has truly changed is added to the next backup. As well as minimizing storage utilization this also reduces the time each backup takes.

If you’re providing online backup services, it’s worth spending some time learning about compression. It’s far better to have a fast, effective backup solution that customers want to stick with than one that “nickel and dimes” them for every last megabyte. After all, you earn no revenue at all if the customer ends the contract.

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