PBBAs: An Opportunity for MSPs

Scott Calonico

backup appliancesBackup appliances, sometimes referred to as PBBAs (Purpose Built Backup Appliances) are big business nowadays. Essentially, a backup appliance is a device designed specifically to manage and store system backups.

Client backups are an area to which every MSP should devote significant time and attention. For a start, MSPs have to ensure that customers backup their data effectively. It’s arguably the most important part of IT service provision. After all, a failed backup plus an office disaster can equal total loss of data and catastrophic business failure. That is fact, and not pure melodrama.

Meanwhile; configuring, monitoring and managing backups has the potential to be a real headache for MSPs. Back in the days when most businesses backed up to tapes, many IT professionals spent much of their time troubleshooting backup jobs and pesky Exchange and SQL agents.

Thankfully, MSPs now have many more options, and backup appliances can form all or part of effective backup strategies that are easier to manage and potentially profitable for the service provider.

Here are just a few ways in which backup appliances can fit into a client’s backup strategy:

  • A combination of backup appliances and inter-office VPNs can make it easy to mirror data to branch offices, resulting in a backup strategy that inherently contributes to effective disaster recovery planning.
  • Backup appliances can be used alongside online backup to provide an easily accessible onsite recovery option as well as the security of a cloud-based backup.
  • MSPs can build private infrastructures around backup appliances and provide chargeable backup and DR services by sending additional backups to their own offices.
  • Backup appliances are perfect for use alongside imaging solutions, resulting in even more restoration options.

It’s always been the case that it’s best to have at least two alternative backup methods in place at every site. While it’s unwise to overcomplicate matters, there’s no reason why, for example, the average business can’t backup to an appliance throughout the day and also have time to perform full file level and image backups during night time backup windows. The data can, in turn, be replicated to a branch office or MSP office, or uploaded to a cloud provider.

The opportunities for MSPs are endless when it comes to backup, and there’s revenue for the taking at every point. MSPs can profit from a margin on the equipment, charge for disaster recovery provision and even earn commission on reselling associated cloud backups.

So, with all this in mind, it makes sense for MSPs to have a detailed think about how to offer backup provision to customers, rather than implementing the easiest or most obvious solution. Backup appliances may not be the entire solution, but could well form a part of it – and the more reliably it all works, the easier the MSP can rest in the knowledge that there’s no disaster that could wipe out their client’s data.