If you’re a managed service provider (MSP) who’s been told the backup business is dead, don’t believe it.

Companies of all sizes still need to back up their data. Providing a cloud-based service is an excellent way for an MSP to get their foot in the door to expand customer relationships. It is true that MSPs shouldn’t be building a business solely on backing up data—it’s only one component of a broader portfolio of business-continuity services.

Why MSPs Should Offer Backup Services

Setting aside business continuity, companies still have many reasons for needing data-backup services.

The most compelling one is compliance. If you look at the fine print of many privacy regulations—including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—they all outline how organizations must manage and protect user data, both from a privacy and integrity perspective. A lack of backups or a failed backup can lead to non-compliance. Meanwhile, compliance reporting that evaluates the backup regimen can shed light on gaps that might lead to a data-loss incident or breach.

As the number of regulations multiply, there’s increased pressure on IT teams and infrastructure to keep pace with data-backup requirements. However, data backup is a perfect example of something that must be done but isn’t a strategic IT initiative. Just being required to keep records for a set number of years—patient records, for example—is one more task on a to-do list that pulls attention away from more strategic IT projects.

Many organizations assume that because they are using cloud-based and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, their mission-critical information is automatically replicated and safe. Lines of business can easily spool-up productivity suites such as Office 365. Still, IT may not have complete visibility into what’s being run by various departments, meaning any data-protection strategy can’t claim to be comprehensive.

For an MSP, data-backup services are low-hanging fruit that can open the door to delivering more services, including business-continuity services, while improving an organization’s data-management practices and compliance posture.

Backup Is One Piece of the Business-Continuity Puzzle

If you’re offering backup services, you need to do it right. You must put a minimum amount of investment into your infrastructure to make sure you can reliably back up and restore their data. If you go to that much trouble, there’s a strong case to be made that you should offer more extensive business-continuity and disaster-recovery support.

Getting backups right means having a high degree of confidence that every backup is working. You’ll need to establish clear recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) and be able to meet any other requirements specified in a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

All these speak to the broader need for business continuity in any disruption. Suppose it’s a natural disaster that’s made a business physically inaccessible. In that case, there’s a lot more to disaster recovery than restoring data. There needs to be a plan to ensure everyone can keep working at a secondary location. Some elements of disaster planning are not technological, either. They’re logistical and include allocating responsibilities to various personnel when a crisis hits, so the right people are in the right place to maintain business operations.

Helping customers with their backup strategy is not only a crucial part of business-continuity planning, but it’s also an opportunity for MSPs to help organizations improve their data-management practices and modernize their systems.

Preparing Data for Backup Reveals Opportunities for Application Modernization

Configuring backups can be a revelation for companies because they must review all the applications and data across their infrastructure. They may find a great deal of redundancy and illuminate how many data silos they have, which are barriers to productivity.

Organizations with their own backups often opt to back up everything, including data that’s no longer worth keeping. They may also have had to develop a custom fix for legacy applications that may not even be working properly. For an MSP, this presents an opportunity to optimize backup and support business continuity, help a customer classify and prioritize data for protection, and identify opportunities for automation and application modernization to accelerate their journey to the cloud.

Offering backup should never be the sole business of an MSP, but it’s a critical stepping stone toward offering a broader portfolio of services that can help organizations with their digital transformation efforts.

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