Quick Start Guide to Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR)

Looking to add BDR (backup and disaster recovery) services to your list of recurring revenue offerings, but not sure where to start?

Looking to add BDR (backup and disaster recovery) services to your list of recurring revenue offerings, but not sure where to start? Tim Brown, VP of Security at SolarWinds MSP, has some timely advice for you.

Which types of customers are a good fit for BDR? 

At some level, most customers are a fit for BDR services—I’d say more than 90% of most MSPs’ (managed services providers’) clients have some need for BDR. However, some need more robust services than others. A tiered approach allows you to serve the varying needs of your customers. There’s a certain threshold of cost that the client is willing to absorb. Not everybody’s going to fit into that full planning test model, so be prepared to offer entry-level services all the way up to comprehensive services.

What kind of investment is required to get started in BDR?

You’ll need training, certification, and starter equipment. The starting point does not necessarily need to be complex. It can be managing a workstation or servers and backing them up. From there, you can perform test recovery on a quarterly basis, and a program to prepare the client in case a disaster occurs. That’s a basic level of service. When building out a bigger program you need to consider what you’re comfortable with for your business and what’s going to fit with your clients. You’ll need people that can appropriately talk about your BDR service—and people that can implement it. This will require some training.

Where would an MSP go for training?

ISO training is a good place to start and vendors also offer training. BDR should be considered a component of business continuity—there is a great deal of training and material on business continuity. NIST has a very good full program under NIST 800-34.  This may be too much for many but it is good to look at a full program and adjust for your needs. BRCCI is another resource.

How long does it take before you can start selling BDR?

If you are already selling some form of backup or some form of recovery service today, then you’re already doing BDR. The difference is whether you’re selling a complete program versus a simple tool. When you’re selling a program, you are really committing yourself to the service and to your customers’ long-term needs. But you can start with a limited set of services and then expand from there if it makes sense for your clients and your business goals.

What should a VAR/MSP look for in a vendor?

The technology needs to be able to scale and be a known quantity. You don’t want to be the first one on the block with the technology. You want to have a good sense of its recovery capabilities, not just its backup capabilities. You need to be able to have confidence that the technology is going to be sufficient for what they need to have happen. Which means, you need to be able to recover from events—across different types of operating systems, different types of applications, etc. You need to be able to recover all of those in a complete fashion and have the ability to apply the BDR policies across a large environment in the same way. Because, if you need to customize or modify for each one of your clients, it can quickly become cost prohibitive for an MSP. So, automation, scale. Automated checks and automated responses become extremely important in this model.

What’s the number one mistake a VAR MSP should avoid when getting started selling BDR?

Scope—taking on too much from a client perspective. When you’re simply doing backup, or when you’re doing backup alone, you can always move your clients to a more complete program. But if they’re not ready for a program, start with simple backup and recovery. So don’t necessarily jump two steps ahead. Get them to the basics and mature them into a BDR program. Also, MSPs should start by implementing BDR programs within specific departments or organizations and not on a global scale, or on an everybody scale. Don’t try to do everything all at once.

What other information should a VAR/MSP know to get started selling BDR?

Don’t be afraid to get started now. Start with a limited set of services. Then continue to add more. It’s important to display your entire program for somebody even if they’re not ready for it yet. Let them understand what they can strive toward moving forward, but don’t make it a program that requires that they do it all and do it now.