A Guide to MSP Backup: Features, Best Practices, and Solutions

Backup and recovery systems are essential for any business continuity plan. Offering backup solutions as part of your managed services adds value and gives your clients peace of mind that their data is in the best hands. In this guide, we will explore the key features of backup solutions via service provider programs and some best practices to ensure the reliability and integrity of backups.

What is MSP Backup?

Managed backup services are data protection solutions provided by a third party specializing in the technical and practical aspects of backup and recovery. The backup solution provider may handle technical issues, such as automating backups, confirming the integrity of the backed up data, and ensuring it’s properly encrypted. Backup solutions providers take care of the entire backup life cycle, which includes protecting the data in secure off-site storage.

Importance of Backup in Managed Services

The process of taking backups, replicating them for off-site storage, and verifying the integrity of the backups can be time-consuming. As companies increasingly rely on cloud services or SaaS solutions for data processing, the process becomes even more complex, as discussed in Cyber Resiliency for the Hybrid Cloud.

Many businesses are looking to outsource backups and data protection to save time and ensure their backups are complete, verifiable, safe, and stored in a way that complies with relevant regulations.

According to the 2024 Data Protection Trends Report, only 58% of surveyed organizations were able to meet their recovery SLAs after a large-scale server recovery test. Outsourcing backup services to a specialist that can ensure high availability and integrity of their data offers peace of mind and frees the in-house IT team to focus on specialized tasks.

Key Features of MSP Backup Solutions

Managed service provider (MSP) backup solutions cover the whole of the backup and recovery process.

  • Automation: MSPs ensure backups run automatically at an appropriate frequency for the type of data being backed up. Automation can give clients peace of mind knowing they have a recent backup in the event of hardware failure, accidental corruption/deletion, or other unforeseen events.
  • Testing: Testing validates the integrity of backups and confirms the data recovery process works properly so there’s minimal downtime in the event of a data loss incident.
  • Encryption and security: MSPs ensure backups are encrypted in transit and at rest to comply with data security policies. An MSP can provide immutable, encrypted off-site backups that comply with data protection regulations and allow access only to authorized individuals.
  • Multiple copies: Most disaster recovery plans use the 3-2-1 backup model. Organizations should take three copies of their data on at least two different media, with one copy being off-site. Backups should always be kept in secure locations, and the disaster recovery plan should include how to obtain and restore those copies quickly.
  • Monitoring and management: Continuous monitoring of the backup process helps ensure the backup solution works and provides early warning in the event of errors or configuration issues.
  • Scalability: As organizations grow, the volume of data they handle multiplies. MSPs offer flexibility, making it easy for businesses to store larger volumes of data as their needs or infrastructure evolves.
  • Broader disaster recovery planning: MSPs learn the requirements of their clients and help implement comprehensive disaster recovery plans, considering what data should be preserved and the best way to get cloud applications, databases, or virtual machines back up and running.

Benefits of Managed Service Provider Backup

A managed service provider backup solution offers more benefits than in-house backups.

  • Increased reliability: MSPs that specialize in backups and recovery typically have a presence in multiple data centers. This ensures maximum availability and reduces the impact of outages affecting specific geographic areas. Hardware failures and communication issues affecting one data center don’t need to cause a total outage.
  • Reduced downtime: MSPs with extensive expertise in cloud backup solutions have the infrastructure and tools required to offer fast recovery times. For businesses with short recovery point objectives, quickly restoring a working copy of mission-critical data is essential for maintaining business continuity.
  • Security and compliance: Depending on the territory a business operates in and the type of data it processes, there may be strict requirements for how data can be stored and processed. MSPs implement comprehensive security measures, such as encrypting data during transmission and while it’s stored. They also use backup management software with access control lists to ensure only authorized individuals can manage the backups.
  • Frequent updates and upgrades: From security patches to maintaining compatibility with SaaS/cloud solutions, MSPs offer regular updates to keep their software working well. These updates ensure automation remains reliable, lessen the need for manual workarounds, and avoid unpatched security issues.
  • Support and SLAs: With SLAs, clients expect a certain level of uptime and availability and that any issues will be addressed within a predefined time frame. This includes customer support services, so if a client has issues with or needs help restoring their backup, they know when they can reach the MSP and how quickly they can expect a response.
  • Predictable costs: MSPs may offer tiered subscription pricing or have a pay-as-you-use model so organizations can manage their backup costs based on the volume of data they’re backing up. Outsourcing backups under this type of pricing model can be cost-effective for organizations that don’t want to invest in the time, hardware, and software required to run in-house backup solutions.

Best Practices for MSP Backup

Backup solutions must be monitored and reviewed regularly to ensure they cover the required data and can be recovered in a timely fashion. Consider the following best practices when offering MSP backup solutions.

Regular Data Audits

  • Audit client data regularly. Schedule regular audits of client data to help them understand the scope and importance of backing up data. Remind the client workflows change over time, and even something innocuous, such as a software update, could lead to data being stored in a different place, necessitating changes to their backup process.
  • Review data classifications. Data should be classified based on its importance and sensitivity. Ensure data is protected with appropriate security measures and backup times align with how frequently data is modified.

Employee Training on Backup Procedures

  • Provide training. MSP staff who are responsible for managing backups must receive comprehensive training and regular refreshers on relevant policies and procedures. Include advice on the specific requirements of each client.
  • Maintain detailed documentation. Document general best practices and any specific information relating to current clients. Ensure this documentation is easily accessible and make all staff aware of its existence. Review and update the document regularly to ensure it aligns with current best practices.

Monitoring and Alerts

  • Use continuous monitoring tools. Backups should be tracked in real time to ensure they run on time and successfully. Use monitoring tools to track storage capacity, hardware health, network status and other important metrics.
  • Configure alerts. Use automated alerts to inform key staff members about backup failures or other urgent issues. For example, Veeam offers the option to remotely collect alarms from Veeam ONE tenants so service providers can see the alerts in their Veeam Service Provider Console. This gives service providers an overview of the status of the virtual machines running in their environment.
  • Monitor for malware infections. Malware, especially ransomware, is a serious issue for MSPs. According to a 2024 report on ransomware by security testers at Astra, ransomware attacks have risen by 13% over the last five years, with the average cost of ransomware being $1.85 million per incident. Veeam Service Provider Console makes it easy to monitor tenants for ransomware, providing data about malware detection status for managed tenants within the console.

Testing Backup and Recovery Processes

  • Test backup and recovery processes. Backups are only useful if they can be restored. Run simulations regularly to test recovery from a variety of different scenarios, such as total systems failure, data corruption, or database crashes.
  • Review access controls. Follow the principle of least privilege when configuring access controls. Ensure clients know what the options mean and encourage them to review their policies regularly.
  • Use immutable backups. The 3-2-1 policy recommends at least one off-site backup. To protect against ransomware, it’s useful for clients to have an immutable backup that’s kept offline unless needed for recovery.
  • Beware of data sprawl. As part of any audits, ask clients to review where they store their data. Managing backups in multi-cloud environments, where organizations use multiple SaaS solutions and often share data through API, isn’t easy. Have a good understanding of where data is held and how it’s used.

Choosing the Right MSP Backup Solution

If you’re considering becoming a managed backup solutions provider, you need a solution your clients can depend on. When evaluating providers, consider the following.

  • Reliability: How long has the provider been in operation? Does it have a good reputation? Look at review scores and testimonials. Have businesses been able to recover data from the backup provider in an emergency? Do the SLAs offered by the vendor match your clients’ expectations?
  • Security: Does the vendor’s software offer access controls? Are the solutions granular, for example, allowing certain users to restore but not delete backups? Are backups encrypted in transit and at rest to ensure compliance with data protection laws and industry-specific regulations?
  • Ease of integration: Does the vendor offer software your clients can easily drop in place alongside their existing infrastructure? Does it provide solutions that support common APIs to back up data from popular SaaS services?
  • Flexibility: Every business has different needs when it comes to backup frequency, retention, etc. Does the vendor cater to organizations of various sizes, allowing them to manage their backup policies and suit their needs?
  • Ease of use: Is the software easy enough for non-IT specialists, such as department heads, to use? Providing an intuitive dashboard helps encourage clients to use the software and reduces the risk of data loss due to user error.
  • Technical support: What level of support does the vendor offer? Do they have an out-of-hours helpline available for data recovery emergencies?
  • Pricing: Is the pricing structure easy to understand? Do you, as a managed solutions provider, have predictable costs that scale with your client base?
  • Licensing: Are the licensing options flexible? Can you scale up or down depending on your business needs, or are you locked into a specific tier?

Cloud solutions provider NewCytech uses Veeam and any.cloud as a backup solution to provide off-site backups of client data. NewCytech’s clients benefit from 99.9% uptime and a backup provider that complies with all data sovereignty laws and international regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, giving them peace of mind that they always have access to their data. The company decided to offer managed backups due to increased demand as remote working became more commonplace and clients began to worry about the safety and security of their data.

The Veeam Cloud & Service Provider program is open to partners of all sizes, with scalable offerings to match your organization’s needs. More than 450,000 customers worldwide use Veeam modern data protection solutions. Veeam Software is well-recognized by IT workers worldwide, and that brand recognition makes it a powerful marketing tool for MSPs.

Secure Your Data With Veeam’s MSP Backup Solutions

Providing data protection services for your clients is a big responsibility. As specialists in modern data protection, Veeam offers a number of BaaS and DRaaS solutions to help protect data in any environment, whether it’s physical, virtual machines, SaaS, Kubernetes, or public cloud solutions.

Veeam’s service provider console offers a single interface for management, monitoring, and licensing. It makes it easy to manage your services, no matter how many clients you have, with monitoring, logging and centralized collection of threat detection statuses of restore points created on tenant servers to ensure you always have visibility into the status of your clients’ data.

If you’re interested in becoming a Veeam Managed Solutions Service Provider and want to know more about our data protection solutions, contact us today to discuss your needs and request a free demonstration.

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Business | February 26, 2024
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