Services Global Viewpoint – January 2016

SaaS: Cloud Managed Services

Cloud backup and recovery tasks are not the same, or even similar to cloud playout. The solutions are different by design. Choose SaaS carefully.

The broadcast, production and media teams are increasingly looking to the cloud for answers. Before you stand outside with you head up, mouth open, hoping for insight, let’s get a couple of things straight.

First, disaster recovery was the first generalized cloud application. Though not widespread, the solutions were, for the most part, sufficient and reliable. Larger stations and groups recognized the value in being able to reimage servers and quickly rebuild files to get back on the air.

Second, production tasks are only now becoming the trendy thing to do, and complete technological solutions are available. But, production tasks are quite different and unique from business server restoration after some kind of system failure has occurred. 

Managed Service Providers

Let’s look at what the cloud industry calls Managed Service Providers (MSPs). To add to our knowledge, this article will draw on a blog post from John Zanni , Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, Acronis. Many of you may use Acronis as imaging software for your personal computers. In terms of full disclosure, I use Acronis backup software on my PC.

The newly developed range of MSP vendors developed primarily because small and medium-sized business recognized the need of business software backup.

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Purchase plans for business recovery (DR) Software as a Service (SaaS) measured over next 12 months. Source: SMB Group

According to the research firm SMB Group, the SMB market consisted of nearly 68 million firms worldwide in 2014 with almost 1 billion employees, representing over 50 percent of IT spending of all global businesses. A recent SpiceWorks survey found that cloud backup is the top cloud service IT pros plan to start using, with 49 percent planning to use Managed Cloud Backup.

DR is different

When it comes to DR, the biggest value an MSP can provide to its customers is ensuring their mission-critical data and systems are backed up and secure--combined with the ability to quickly get the business back up and running after a disaster. Simply offering cloud storage is not enough. MSPs need scalable managed cloud solutions that span all of the critical data areas of data protection, including backup, disaster recovery, file sync and share.

Three questions to ask your SaaS vendor

Is the backup, DR process, easy? For both service providers and end users, cloud solutions for data protection and recovery need to be easy to use. Being down is not the time to discover you need some special flash drive to reboot the system—and can’t find it. The operating software needs features like role-based dashboards to make it easy for end customers to use. And, instructions need to be written in easy-to-understand English! 

Users should never be faced with a screen that says something like, "To tune the system for Windows Server 2016, the option “resvport” must be present when mounting, or else you will get an “Operation not permitted” message." ARRRG!

Is it a complete solution? Effective data protection is all about a company’s ability to quickly recover by getting the business back up and running across all systems, servers, PCs, Macs and virtual machines, as well as applications. Full image to file level recovery is possible today, but not all data protection solution providers can make this claim. Ask.

Purchase decision tree. Why buy back up SaaS? Source SMB Group.

Purchase decision tree. Why buy back up SaaS? Source SMB Group.

Additionally, complete protection requires keeping multiple copies of customer data in separate locations with the ability to restore data to different locations and even devices. End users can even have the option to leverage storage in the service provider’s data center. In short, the cloud has made access to best-in-class, complete data protection more accessible than ever--for both service provider and end customers.

Is the vendor a trusted and proven partner? The solution provider you choose for data protection services should have proven technologies and experience. When it comes to data protection, customers have too much to risk with untested solutions or insufficient coverage.

At the same time, many companies today, including smaller broadcasters and production companies, do not have in-house IT expertise. There is no one in-house to effectively manage tasks like backup and disaster recovery. Make sure your vendor knows about data protection and how to stay ahead in this dynamic market with constantly evolving customer needs.

Finally, be sure the entire backup process is automatic and complete with run reports. If the backup process requires a human to push the "backup" button, your backup solution is all set--to fail!

For an analyst view on how the cloud is impacting strategic areas like disaster recovery, check out the Gartner Magic Quadrant report on Disaster Recovery as a Service.

Editor's note: This article relied on source material from: 3 Questions to Ask Your Cloud Data Protection Vendor, By John Zannim Senior Vice President, Cloud Business, Acronis

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