How to Evaluate Cloud Hosting Platforms for Your Backups

Data is not automatically secure and accessible once it's backed up. I don't need to tell you that. When offering your end users a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution, you have to consider which data storage option is optimal. If you're like many MSPs, you know that the future of efficient data storage lies in the cloud, but which kind - public or private? What constitutes a protected environment, and how can IT solutions providers marry data security with scalable data management? To help you deliver a competitive business continuity offering, we've compiled key requirements you should look for when scoring existing cloud platforms.

Cloud Solution Essentials for MSPs Who Sell BDR

Flexible Storage Options That Allow for Capacity Planning

What if you underestimate or overestimate the amount of backed up data you need to store? You don't want to be locked into a situation in which you can't control how much room you have to work with. If you're paying for more or less than you need, you're not spending your money wisely.

Why would having too much storage be a problem? We always welcome extra space in our living arrangements. I could certainly use more storage for all of my summer clothes now that the temperature is dropping. Couldn't we just store the data longer and fill up that extra cloud space as we go along? You should never retain backed up data for longer than you need it. In fact, it's a security concern! Unprotected backups are one of the top targets attackers seek to compromise, and even if you have the right backup solution in place, one minor oversight in your BDR policy could be the gateway they need to obtain access to your systems.

Apart from this, another reason why it doesn't make sense to buy now and store later is that unlike gold or stocks, storage space is the most expensive it will ever be today and will only depreciate over time. You have to allow for capacity planning. As we explain in our blog post breaking down private and public clouds, public cloud resources are offered "on-demand," so if you need to expand or condense your storage capability, you can easily do so. With private clouds, you're forced to determine your expected usage over time.

Instead, opt for a public cloud platform that lets you set your storage capacity on a monthly basis and adjust specs as needed. In the end, it's a more cost-efficient approach for the agile MSP looking to acquire new backup clients and deliver premium service, without suffering volatile cash flow.

Designed with Security Performance and Resiliency in Mind

We touched a bit upon the scalability advantage of public clouds, but it's worth noting that you don't have to sacrifice data security for higher profit margins with this model. It's a common misconception that private clouds are safer because MSPs have full control over the security procedures. There are many public cloud providers that provide their own external firewalls, denial of service (DOS) detection and protection capabilities, as well as other intrusion detection systems. Then, on top of that, there are backup solutions that build another layer of defense inside that cloud by offering their own firewall on each of the managed appliances and controlled security access between servers on their environment. So even if you were concerned that outside parties could break through into the public cloud, they'd be faced with a whole new set of barriers to overcome. With the right backup technology, they wouldn't be able to get past these defenses.

When they use a public cloud platform, MSPs also receive a highly-trained and certified team of professionals that are charged with safeguarding data of all sensitivity types that's stored in their data centers, and those same employees are held accountable for meeting compliance regulations. We've already learned that private clouds force MSPs to determine how they'll allocate storage space. Along these same lines, private clouds become even more problematic since MSPs are also solely responsible for managing security performance and procedures. Conversely, public clouds remove this hassle and bandwidth stressor by providing the manpower and security know-how you need to keep your clients' data accessible, yet secure.

International Data Centers & Backup Redundancy

Reliability and availability. These are two of the main qualities that IT service providers should consider when evaluating cloud backup solutions. First, you want to feel confident that your client's backed up data is actually being stored and receiving all of the necessary physical defenses to keep it protected from outside attacks or outages. Second, you need to be able to obtain the data your cloud provider is hosting in case your client needs or requests it without advance warning. But what if something goes awry at your data center?

Data centers are not immune from service disruptions. Even your backups need backing up. By relying on a public cloud solution, you're able to leverage all of their existing resources - resources most MSPs would be able to ill afford on their own. In addition to the extension of your own staff, you can benefit from a platform with a global infrastructure of data centers. Should hardware fail or systems go down at one of their data centers, public cloud providers replicate your data and store in a secondary data center so you can still meet your clients' needs. This built-in layer of data redundancy keeps you in compliance with your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and prevents unnecessary downtime for your end users.

Trusted Brand, Tested Technology

When venturing or making the switch to a public cloud solution, pick a platform with a proven track record. Not only will well-known brands be easier to sell to end users, but they will also be your best bet for budget-friendly, enterprise-level cloud storage. What if you went with a smaller, untested provider and they were either acquired or went out of business? You'd then have to migrate all of your user data to a new environment. Similarly, veteran platforms are more resilient because they've had to continually reinforce their physical, operational, and data transfer security standards. When you align your backup strategy with an established public cloud provider with longevity, you can rest easy knowing your clients' data is in good hands and will continue to be so.

Why We Chose IBM SoftLayer to Power Continuity247, Our BDR Solution

As a channel exclusive provider, we can only be successful if our MSP partners are successful. That means we have to continually deliver technology solutions that enable them to increase sales velocity and volume. Today, we announced general availability for our fully managed backup and disaster recovery (BDR) platform, Continuity247. Our latest service offering is unique because it's backup technology that was born in the cloud. When devising our go-to-market approach, we chose none other than IBM Softlayer's world-renowned reliable public cloud for all of the reasons listed above.

We needed a scalable, high-performance public cloud hosting platform with a trusted brand, global data center presence, secure infrastructure and reliable technology that could uphold compliance requirements for partners serving the healthcare and financial verticals. IBM Softlayer checks all of these boxes. At the end of the day, a business continuity solution with its roots in a cloud with a trusted brand like IBM's will be an easier sell for MSPs. This coupled with the public cloud's flexible network capacity and cost-efficient storage options will yield higher sales margins, increase annual revenue and drive long-term profitability and business growth for those who take advantage of it.

We're very excited to debut Continuity247 as the channel's only fully managed BDR platform. Adopters not only receive the dedicated support staff of IBM Softlayer, but they also receive 24x7x365 service from our certified team of 600+ network operations center (NOC) technicians. That's a true game changer for MSPs faced with stagnant business growth and a shortage of IT talent!

Author: Mary McCoy
Click here to learn more about Continuity247, our new and unique BDR solution!

Mary McCoy is Continuum’s resident inbound marketing specialist and social media enthusiast. Read all of Continuum's guest blogs here.