In an interview with XaaS Journal, AJ Singh, VP of Product Management at NinjaRMM, offered advice to technology solutions providers (TSPs) looking to streamline their customers’ business operations and improve security this year.
Please explain why a solid BDR strategy is crucial to businesses adapting to remote work.
Singh: The COVID-19 pandemic wholly changed the IT management landscape. As businesses ramped up purchasing new hardware and software to enable their employees to work remotely, they were also exposing themselves to more risk that had to be carefully managed. Remote workers are generally more exposed to cyberattacks and data loss than a typical office worker. This is because remote employees rely on less secure personal infrastructure and are more likely to save or share files with local machines or personal cloud storage. A solid backup and disaster recovery (BDR) strategy will plug any data leakage holes while protecting the business from catastrophic events like ransomware.
In the cloud era, backup solutions can be highly convenient and cost-effective for businesses to implement. Many advanced solutions leverage automation to turn backups into a “set-and-forget” task and integrate with popular IT management software, like remote monitoring and management tools. Because of the accessibility and impact that cloud backups can provide, now has never been a better time to streamline operations and improve security during this pandemic.
Were BDR strategies that businesses used before 2020 adequate for this year? Why or why not?
Singh: The results have been mixed on whether strategies for 2020 remain adequate. For the companies already making investments into their digital toolbox by investing in a BDR strategy, the switch to remote work because of the pandemic was a jolt but not as disruptive to their business as their counterparts that didn’t make those investments. On the other hand, the pandemic revealed the importance of placing IT efficiency and security into any strategic discussion about a company’s future. IT is the new utility organizations rely on to operate in today’s environment.
Of course, no one could have predicted a global pandemic triggering an unprecedented rush to remote work. The dramatic increase in companies’ footprint of devices that must be managed and have files backed up has rocked small and large organizations alike. However, we still find that those further along their digital transformation were likelier to come out the other side stronger.
What are the most important things for businesses to include in their BDR strategies?
Singh: As businesses reassess their BDR strategies in the wake of the coronavirus-driven remote work boom, there are several important considerations to make regarding agility, scale and security. First, to minimize data loss and reduce the cost of replacing lost data, backups should be performed frequently – and the more frequent, the better. Second, a hybrid approach to storing backups can help speed up data recovery by using local storage and introducing a layer of redundancy in the event of a natural disaster with cloud backups. Third, businesses should plan to back up employee machines in addition to corporate servers. Finally, ensure you perform regular image backups of servers so they can be spun up quickly in the event of failure.
Technology solution providers should also make sure that all devices that access the corporate network are protected by antivirus, that all machines used by employees and the company are up to date with patches for operating systems and third-party applications, that customers are educated on how to store files on the network instead of individual machines, and that users are educated on the cybersecurity risks they’re likely to encounter.
Which elements of the strategy do businesses need the most help with from MSPs or VARs?
Singh: Business owners can lean on MSPs and VARs to help them implement a backup solution and immediately improve their security. Core to the value of MSPs and VARs, they’ve already evaluated all the different backup software on the market. They can make the right recommendation for your business and then start implementing it. MSPs and VARs can also help companies configure the backup software and set up a BDR strategy that aligns with the goals, needs, and state of the businesses’ IT infrastructure. For any gaps identified in implementing the BDR strategy, the MSP or VAR can easily acquire the physical or cloud infrastructure their customers need.
How can MSPs and VARs make their offerings stand out among others in the market providing BDR?
Singh: MSPs and VARs need to explain to business owners how much the damage would cost if a server, or multiple servers, goes down. Without backups, downtime can be a significant blow to most businesses, with losses often in the tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, cybercriminals increasingly target small businesses, so any business owner should have on their radar the risk of data loss or theft. By building a good business case while showing what the cost of inaction can be, MSPs and VARs can help business owners understand the gravity of the issue.
Are there mistakes that MSPs and VARs make? How can they avoid them?
Singh: Sometimes, MSPs and VARs select a backup offering that provides large margins but compromises on quality. These solutions aren’t dependable and lead to data loss and lawsuits. To avoid this, MSPs and VARs should err on the side of caution and ensure the solution they offer has been thoroughly vetted and is secure. Some might also want multiple solutions in their arsenal and use different solutions based on their specific need.
Please add any additional information to help MSPs and VARs grow their BDR business.
Singh: MSPs and VARs should clearly promote their offerings as they apply to our current world. People are on edge these days, and a generic IT sales pitch isn’t helpful or welcome. Offering empathy and clear value is the best thing you can do to grow your business and build relationships that will carry on long into the future.