Replacing Your Backup Solution, Part 2: Understanding How

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Author: Eric Harless, head backup Nerd, N-able

In part one of this blog post series, we discussed several key reasons why your clients need backup and why either of you might be considering a change. In this second part, I will discuss how you might go about expanding or replacing your existing backup offerings.

Expanding your offering

As I suggested in part one, sometimes it can be less costly to simply establish a new solution to supplement the shortcomings of another. This is only if you have enough interested customers and internal resources to implement, manage, and monitor an additional backup offering. The need for a Microsoft Office 365 backup is just one example where you might bring in a new solution to cover a need that was left open by the previous vendor. You will find that this often presents you with overlapping features and you should establish and document a process of which product is used in what way so there is no ambiguity. Remember, having two competing backup solutions running on the same computer system at the same time with overlapping schedules should be avoided as it can sometimes create resource conflicts and cause more harm than good.

Rip and replace

If you already have an established backup and disaster recovery (BDR) offering, there may be little to no profit to be made from migrating your customer base from one solution to another, especially after you factor in installation and configuration time. The initial value may have to be realized in other ways, such as in reduced management time, lower licensing and maintenance fees, or additional services that you can upsell such as off-site protection, recovery testing, standby VMs, etc. A “rip and replace” scenario is the easiest to perform when you are providing backup and recovery services with a short-term (30–90 day) retention window and your customer looks to you to determine the backup technology that is utilized.

Data migration

I’m frequently asked if it is possible for a new backup solution to ingest and retain backup data from a prior solution. This is most prevalent when dealing with prior backup solutions that have extended retention windows greater than 90 days or where long-term archiving is enabled. The answer is most always “no” or “not easily” because most backup solutions are using proprietary methods to deduplicate and store the backup sessions in different locations and on different media types. They may also use different encryption algorithms or have different application support that is not supported or recognized by the new solution. The closest you may be able to get to this is to script or manually perform multiple point-in-time restores of critical systems and data to physical or virtual disk files. Then you can mount those volumes so they can be protected with the new solution. 

The overlap strategy

MSPs servicing the needs of multiple organizations, with multiple products, can find it challenging to fully replace a backup vendor, and migrating data may be too difficult or costly to do all at one time. In these scenarios, I would suggest an “overlapping” strategy when you bring in your new solution several months before your licenses are set to expire so that you can get familiar with the new product before switching over completely. Then, as licenses start to expire, you can slowly move your backups to the new platform while retaining your prior solution for 30–90 days—just in case you need to go back and get data from a historic backup. If you’re moving from an on-premises backup solution to an online backup offering, you may also want to consider renewing and retaining a small license count of the legacy solution so you can access those historic archives if you need them.

Other considerations

Many backup vendors offer competitive pricing and promotions to encourage you to switch. Sharing your realistic migration and growth plans with your vendor should get you the best pricing options. The volume to which you commit and the timing of when your switchover will be completed may also impact your pricing or even defer a portion of the new license costs for a period of time as you ramp up the new offering and decommission the old one.

Related: If you’re looking for cloud-first backup that offers more for less, allowing you to simplify your approach, scale with your customer growth, and turn backup services into a driver of profitability, then check out N-able Backup.


Author Eric Harless is the head backup nerd at N-able. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @backup_nerd. Read more N-able guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.

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