Magazine Article | January 1, 2017

The Biggest BDR Pitfalls MSPs Need To Avoid

By The Business Solutions Network

Backup and disaster recovery (BDR) is a foundational managed services offering, but there are several selection, sales, implementation, and post-implementation pitfalls that must be avoided.

When most IT solutions providers make the decision to sell managed services, one of the first solutions they build their services practice on is BDR — and rightfully so, since it’s such a critical part of data protection. The reality is that data loss can literally put a company out of business. If your company is considering or has already made the transition to selling managed services, you came to the right place. Experts from Carbonite and Datto have some helpful advice to ensure that all your BDR decisions — including selecting a vendor, selling the solution, implementing it, and supporting it — go as planned.

“Make sure all vendors you work with encrypt data, restrict access to data centers, and provide information about their security practices.”

Jessica Couto, VP of U.S. channel sales and marketing, Carbonite

BDR Selection Pitfalls To Avoid
There are dozens of BDR solutions MSPs can choose from, and each has different features and price models, which can make the comparison process difficult and time-consuming. To make the selection process simpler, avoid these pitfalls, say the experts:

1. TCO (total cost of ownership). “It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing BDR solutions based only on the initial price per seat, but oftentimes there is a big disparity between what one vendor offers compared to another one,” says Rob Rae, VP of business development at Datto. “For instance, some BDR solutions include support, unlimited cloud storage, and advanced features like backup completion verification — and others charge extra or don’t offer these features. Make sure you consider everything that you need in a BDR solution, and consider the TCO so you can make a fair price comparison during the selection process.”

2. Security. “All clients, regardless of size, need to know that their data is secure,” says Jessica Couto, VP of U.S. channel sales and marketing at Carbonite. “Make sure all vendors you work with encrypt data, restrict access to data centers, and provide information about their security practices.”

3. Innovation. IT is changing so quickly that it’s important to select a BDR vendor that is keeping up with the changes, says Rae, so you’re not left with antiquated tools. To find out if a prospective vendor is an innovator, ask two questions, he says: “What has the vendor done in the last 12 months to move its product forward? And what is it planning to do in the next 12 months?”

Couto concurs and adds, “Many BDR providers offer only image-based backup with varying levels of granular restore. MSPs should make sure to choose a solution that offers both image and granular backup. MSPs should also choose a solution that has image backup for bare metal recovery, which enables businesses to achieve complete system protection in a single backup.”

4. Ease of Use. This next tip may require some hands-on testing to validate, but it will be time well spent: “No client has unlimited time,” says Couto. “Find a solution that is easy to deploy and manage based on your clients’ needs.”

5. Support. Even the best BDR solutions run into problems sometimes, and the best source for resolving the problem is the vendor. “Localized, 24/7 support is a must,” says Rae. “Disasters rarely happen during ‘normal business hours,’ and when they do, MSPs shouldn’t have to pay extra to get the help they need.”

6. Reputation. There is a saying among HR professionals that an employee candidate’s past is the best predictor of future performance. The same principle can be applied to a potential BDR vendor. “Find out the vendor’s most relevant success stories,” advises Couto. “Also, ask your peers if any of them are working with the vendor or have worked with them in the past and get their feedback.”

7. Off-Site Backups. “Even when important data is backed up on-site, natural disasters can destroy your client’s data,” says Couto. “Make sure the prospective vendor makes it easy to back up your client’s most critical data off-site, preferably in the cloud.”

BDR Sales Pitfalls To Avoid
When it comes to selling BDR solutions, determining the best price is imperative, says Rae. “You need to know the true cost of ownership of all the products you’re selling. The things most likely to be overlooked are your techs’ time supporting the product, including testing backups and servicing it. Factor in all your labor costs and licensing costs, then add your margin.”

BDR Implementation Pitfalls To Avoid
One of the biggest mistakes MSPs make during implementation is selling BDR as an on-off solution, says Couto. “For comprehensive data protection, BDR should be sold as part of a holistic package that includes layered security. This approach should include firewall, antivirus, whitelisting, and, depending on the company and IT environment, the package should also include privilege management.”

Another implementation pitfall to avoid is being undertrained on the BDR product, says Rae. “There has to be an up-front investment in training, so you can avoid being constantly on the phone with the vendor and you can develop confidence in the product,” he says. “You’ll spend way more time trying to figure the technology out on your own. Take advantage of all the services the vendor offers, including free and billable services.”

“Disasters rarely happen during ‘normal business hours,’ and when they do, MSPs shouldn’t have to pay extra to get the help they need.”

Rob Rae, VP of business development, Datto

BDR Post-Implementation Pitfalls To Avoid
“Once the BDR system is implemented, there are three big mistakes that we see MSPs make to hinder ease of use,” says Couto. “The first is failing to test backups right after implementation. This can be a critical error, as MSPs need to be sure the backup system will work correctly following an actual disaster.” Another mistake MSPs can make after implementation, she says, is failing to access the whole environment. “For example, many legacy computer systems will reach end of life this year. It’s important to keep monitoring these systems for your customers, as unsupported, unpatched systems make businesses a prime target of hackers, especially as we continue to see a rise in ransomware.

Similarly, MSPs can fail to become true partners to their customers. A BDR implementation should be the beginning of a business relationship, not the end. One of the largest value adds of the MSP is the personal approach and attention to detail that is absolutely critical for small to midsize businesses in today’s world.”

Rae concurs and adds, “It’s true that your customers are paying you for things not to go wrong, but you need to constantly remind them what you’re doing, or they may stop recognizing the value of your service. There are lots of ways you can keep customers informed, such as emailing screen shots of completed tasks, monthly reports, quarterly business reviews, and annual reviews. And, when something goes sideways, you must be able to resolve the issue quickly — especially when you’re offering fixed-fee managed services. A slow response will inevitably lead to increased customer dissatisfaction and could push your client to look for another IT services provider. Don’t get lazy — whether everything is going great or things are not going well.”