Recently Storage Switzerland and Intronis held a webinar to discuss the most important aspects of rolling out a backup as a service (BaaS) cloud based backup solution. As an interactive webinar, we polled the audience at the outset of the presentation to determine which of the following 5 areas were of the most concern with respect to deploying a cloud backup service which would best meet their client’s data backup requirements while also meeting a Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) business needs:
- Lack of Platform Coverage
- Lack of Storage Flexibility
- Lack of Performance
- Lack of Protection of the protected data
- Lack of unique MSP Capabilities
The clear winner by a landslide was “Performance”. Clearly existing and prospective MSPs are conscious of the potential limitations of some traditional backup applications to address the multi-tenant requirements of a cloud based backup offering. BaaS is drawing significant interest from small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) that either don’t have the technical staff to consistently and reliably manage the backup process and/or don’t have the financial capital to build out their own backup infrastructure.
The demand for cloud based BaaS is a ground floor opportunity for MSPs to provide a valuable service to existing clients while attracting new customers. Furthermore, if the MSP is able to successfully execute and demonstrate consistent backup quality of service (QoS) and adhere to service level agreements (SLAs) which meet or exceed customer backup and recovery objectives, they will be well positioned to drive additional cloud service revenue with these same customers. The key is to get it right and hence the strong interest in making sure that performance levels are adequate.
During the webinar, George Crump, lead analyst from Storage Switzerland and Intronis co-founder, Neal Bradbury, covered in detail what it takes to ensure that backup performance will be strong. One of the main concerns that MSPs and their clients have are the bandwidth limitations between the customer site and the cloud providers facility. While adequate bandwidth is certainly important, there are proactive measures that can be taken to reduce the amount of backup data that has to be processed and sent over the wire–shrinking the backup payload and dramatically shortening the backup window.
When it comes to managing backup windows for hundreds of thousands of clients, MSPs have to look beyond data reduction technologies like compression and data deduplication. While important, on their own they will not suffice for ensuring the timely completion and transfer of backup data sets.
Many SMB customers support network attached file server environments that contain millions of files. During the webinar, Bradbury alluded to a dental office client that stores individual teeth into separate file folders. The time it was taking to crawl the directory structure to scan each folder to determine if data had changed was placing an enormous drag on the backup window process. Through their integration with the NTFS file system, Intronis’ offering is able to rapidly scan Windows file systems to quickly identify changed data; regardless of the number of files or how extensive the file system tree is within the file system.
Additionally, many SMBs looking to leverage cloud based services are being steered towards server virtualization. To further streamline the backup process and efficiently parse and move backup data, Intronis directly integrates with the application programming interface (API) within VMware and takes advantage of the change block tracking feature embedded within the VMware Data Protection (VDP) suite. Now only the data blocks that have changed since the prior backup are processed and moved between the client site and the cloud to complete vm backups.
Another key area with respect to performance that was pointed out on the call is making sure the backup application is tightly integrated with applications like SQL and Exchange. One example cited by Bradbury is mailbox level recovery within Exchange. Some backup applications merely backup the Exchange information store. While this provides protection for everything within the Exchange database, it lacks the performance attributes that MSPs and their customers will demand.
The classic case is when the not so tech savvy C level executive blows away an important email or calendar item and demands an immediate restore. Bradbury pointed out how it could take the better part of a business day just to recover the executive’s email item if granular Exchange restore capabilities are not embedded within the backup solution.
These are just some of the examples of what was covered in the webinar. Interestingly enough, we had zero dropouts during the call so clearly the information that was shared during the discussion really resonated with our audience. A playback of the webinar is available through the player below. While registration is required, once you have registered you can access the rest of our webinars without having to re-register.