Data protection is crucial in the era of ransomware, hackers, and other threats and backup is one our key frontline defenses. There are hidden costs of backup software for companies, however for service providers, this burden can be even heavier. Unlike in-house IT pros responsible for protecting their own organization, MSPs must think about the recoverability of dozens of businesses. This not only magnifies the threats, but also increases the administrative burden and hidden costs.
For a service provider, seemingly small issues can add up fast. Switching between multiple backup products for different customers can take hours of your week that would be better spent on value-added projects. Psychology experts tell us that task switching results in up to 40% reduction in productivity, simply from the act of switching. Reducing the number of backup products you support has real efficiency benefits.
How much time does your team spend checking to ensure backups completed successfully? Unless you have color-coded, at-a-glance charts you can use to quickly investigate any issues, this can be another big-time waster. Over time, these mundane tasks can demoralize highly skilled technical staff. No one’s job is fascinating all the time, but the more you can reduce unnecessary tedium, the more job satisfaction your team will enjoy, helping you hold onto valuable skilled personnel. Staff dissatisfaction (or downright boredom) is another hidden cost of using the wrong (or too many) backup products.
Hardware can also add costs. With traditional on-premises backup software, the license is only the beginning. You need a server to run it, and that server needs an operating system, heating/cooling, and floor space. Local data storage devices can be a major expense, compounded by the staff time needed to buy, provision, manage, and maintain them. It’s no wonder many MSPs have moved to cloud-based applications, as they usually provide flexible, consumption-based pricing and remove the hardware hassles.
Even when backing up to the cloud, however, some products require proprietary backup appliances. Those vendors ask you to pay a high price for what is essentially commodity hardware. Having an appliance at each customer location results in otherwise unnecessary travel to and from multiple sites. It also increases costs when customers’ data grows too large for the original appliance. A modern, cloud-first backup product with a hosted software-as-a-service management console can potentially save serious time and money, freeing you from unnecessary hardware. If some customers want a local copy of their data, you should be able to provide it using hardware you already own.
Of course, no matter the cost, backup looks like a good investment when ransomware hits. A recent Computer Weekly article cites data showing that ransomware continues to grow, putting more pressure on incident response teams. Again, for service providers, the pressure is even greater. When one customer gets hit by ransomware, how many applications or dashboards do you have to open to see if others are impacted? Then how many to recover them all to their last-known good state? The fewer backup products you use, the more easily you can stay on top of data protection requirements for all customers—and the quicker you can save the day.
Reducing the hidden costs and improving the efficiency of your backup processes makes good business sense for a lot of reasons. Your team will be happier and more productive, you won’t sink valuable capital into unnecessary hardware, and you can better serve your customers when recovery is needed.
Carrie Reber is senior product marketing manager for SolarWinds MSP
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