There are many instances as an outsourced IT NOC that we have been asked to manage products that are not really built for the MSP Provider. This is normally done when MSP’s are either trying to accommodate the clients budget limitations to keep them as a break an fix customer or have locked them into a pricing model that is too low to provide adequate backups especially when it comes to offsite backups.
Your offsite backup solution offered to clients need to have encryption, proper versioning, retention of at least 30days offsite, bandwidth throttling, email notification, importantly a centralized management console and most importantly backup overage caps on accounts so client do not exceed a certain amount of cloud storage assigned to them. We have found in our experience as a Virtual IT Office that MAXRemote backup and Cloudberry have worked well for MSP’s offering cloud backup services.
WHY LIMIT SIZE IN PLANS
Our IT Network Operations Center has found many instance of a client dumping data on a server or even a tech using a server location to temporarily store info and forget to remove that data or exclude that location from cloud backup jobs. Many providers of cloud storage space bill you for the max space used for a particular month. By setting a limit to the amount of offsite backups being offered on any given plan the MSP leave’s itself with some room to not be left with holding a backup bill that might be more than the cost billed to that client for the agent. Couple this with a cap to the client’s offsite storage allocation of 10% over usage before backups start to fail and you should have the right mix of alerting and ensuring backups do not fail. This does not mean that IT MSP’s and their NOC Centers absolve themselves from ensuring Techs do not dump irrelevant content un-necessarily on server shares or making multiple copies of data and forgetting to remove older copies in the locations assigned to the cloud backup job.
Some may say that why not implement file management services and restriction policies on file types especially with a server environment. For large corporate a environment that is great but in small to midsized businesses it can become a significant overhead to managing those clients and decrease productivity of the clients staff.
The basic principals we have found to work are from our experiences:
Price offsite backups on a per Gig basis for any amount above the base cloud storage included in your various plans. Do not change per gig pricing for overage or a different rate per gig of cloud storage based on the plan the client is on with the MSP.
Ensure clients are aware of their backup size being utilized with weekly reports and understand those scenarios that can cause their backups to go over the limit. Ensure CAP LIMIT are set for over usage to limit un-necessary extra billing cost.
Set a Cap in the offsite backup solution for that client so the client cannot exceed a particular amount of storage space on their cloud account without giving approval to the IT MSP to allow overage.
Bundling backup cost into your IT MSP Service plans
Data lost, who responsible? Why wasn’t it included in our plan? I thought you guys were taking care of that? We need that file back from two months ago?
All questions the IT MSP will be asked by its clients from one point or another from an angry owner of a business that would have been paying for a service being provided but may not fully understand the ramifications of their decisions in choosing one plan or another.
Firstly, I have seen this on numerous occasions within our IT HelpDesk of our clients “IT MSP’s” going out of pocket to ensure backups are adequately covered or just to ensure they do not want to lose a client by re-pricing “Raising pricing” them, they end up eating their backup cost as it is looked at as just a little more this month and I am sure I will make it back next month!
Expectation management is of the outmost importance while maintaining a level compliance that is adequate to the infrastructure you are supporting.
Offsite backups as part of a plan should always have a limit in my opinion and clients given an a la carte backup menu that is simple with no more than 2 pricing options to choose from in addition to their plan.
The onus is on the IT MSP to ensure that any client on any monthly plan has their main data driven devices covered by image backup that is stable and manageable through a proactive system of alerting failures.
Weather using Shadowproact or Cloudberry or another full image product for local imaging the cost by device needs to be bundled into the cheapest lowest plan offered to the client by the MSP.
If they are unwilling to go on a plan then that client is probable not the right fit for your MSP to provide support services on a daily basis. If they are unwilling to cover their servers on a monthly plan that includes imaging backups then it is probable not the best idea to have them as one of your clients.
On the flip side, it is somewhat unpractical to provide IT Services to a client in my opinion that has mission critical data and the IT MSP is not managing their backups from a monitoring perspective or the client has no backups at all. Clients with data driven applications or central server functioning as their single point of productivity of their business, it is imperative to give them the only option of a backup plan that includes imaging before orienting them as a new client.
If the client has already purchased a third party product such as Acronis imaging backup that has a proven track record of reliability then and only then should you accommodate that client in a customized monthly plan sharing the knowledge that you will manage their backups to the best of our ability.