IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Sorting Through BDR Options

New BDR solutions are introduced frequently and with varying capabilities. The following guidelines can help you make sense of this dynamic market. By Megan Santosus

Thinking of deploying a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution for your clients? Then be prepared to do some homework. The market for BDR products and services is a crowded one. As new players and offerings pop up regularly, finding the right solution can seem like trying to catch a moving train. For channel partners new to the BDR space, there are some basic guidelines that can help make sense of this dynamic market.

The reasons for the explosion in BDR solutions include the cloud and reduced cost. “The barriers to entry that existed five years ago are gone due to virtualization and the cloud,” says Dave Simpson, a senior analyst of storage at 451 Research LLC. Gone are the days when BDR required disk arrays from the likes of EMC, HP, or IBM, as well as expensive replication software, Simpson says. With the cloud, backup no longer has to take place on a backup server on-site, and then be copied to tape for storage off-site. And the cost of storage has decreased significantly over the past couple of years. “For vendors, it is relatively easy and inexpensive today to get into this space,” he adds.

Virtualization has also added complexity to IT environments, which in turn is propelling the introduction of BDR tools that can back up virtual machines. “Backing up a traditional physical environment was straightforward,” says Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst with the Server and StorageIO Group, a technology advisory and consulting firm. “Now there are virtual environments, physical environments, and hybrid environments involving the cloud that need backup services,” he says.

“From a business perspective, small companies need to have a backup and recovery strategy, because if their technology platform goes down, they can't do business.” David Boone, CEO,
Paranet Solutions LLC

Another factor driving the market revolves around the changing operational requirements among target customers. SMBs are increasingly creating and storing vast amounts of information, and they rely heavily on their IT infrastructure to run their businesses. “From a business perspective, small companies need to have a backup and recovery strategy, because if their technology platform goes down, they can't do business,” says David Boone, CEO of Paranet Solutions LLC, a provider of IT services in Dallas. For SMBs, this means paying heed to metrics such as recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) - measures organizations establish for recovering production data and restoring IT services. And from a risk perspective, auditors increasingly expect SMBs to have rigorous backup and recovery systems in place.

Then there is the BYOD trend. With data no longer physically contained in a secure data center or corporate office, BDR is more of a technical challenge. “The issues faced by SMBs have in effect scaled up just like their data volumes and recovery objectives,” Schulz says. In response, vendors from both ends of the spectrum - those that have traditionally targeted enterprises as well as those that have gone after the lower end such as consumers or SOHO customers - are now jumping into the SMB market. “The common place all these vendors are converging is at the SMB,” Schulz says.

To make sense of the market, Simpson recommends grouping BDR offerings into three broad categories: straight to cloud services, software-based products, and a hybrid approach that combines on-site hardware and software. By segmenting the market this way, Simpson says channel partners can quickly assess which approach will work best for their customers.

Straight to cloud online backup is typically used by consumers and very small companies,” Simpson says. These options are most appropriate when performance and recovery times are not as critical as cost or simplicity. “Doing backup and recovery completely online in the cloud will run into recovery problems for anything more than a couple hundred gigabytes of data,” Simpson says. “For those SMBs that don't have expensive Internet connections, backup will take a long time.”

Still, such low-end, consumer-oriented products can play a role in BDR strategies, particularly given the rapid pace of change in the industry. Schulz for one thinks products from the likes of Carbonite and Mozy, while aimed squarely at desktop environments, will continue to evolve and add more robust capabilities. With low barriers to entry, these products can allow channel partners and their customers alike to test the BDR waters with little initial investment.

A Sampling of Software-based BDR Solutions

Vendor Product Description Cost
Acronis backup and recovery works for PCs and servers Image backup and bare metal recovery for Windows is $895; and integrated module add-on that restores servers or workstations to other hardware or virtual machine is $365.
Asigra Inc.
Asigra Cloud Backup v12 provides cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery for SaaS- and PaaS-based applications and platforms, mobile endpoints, virtual disaster recovery for VMware environments, and anytime/anywhere data recovery. Pricing available upon request.
Code42 Software
CrashPlan PRO offers SMBs automatic and continuous backup of new and changed information. Pricing available upon request.
Intronis Inc.
Intronis cloud backup software provides MSPs with secure data centers, native Microsoft Exchange and SQL plug-ins, VMware backup support, and technology to reduce bandwidth usage and enable fast restores. Pricing available upon request.
Software allows agentless deployment to back up physical and virtual servers on a network from one screen. The license fee for PCs and Macs is $3.95 per month; a server is $6.95 per month.
Vembu Technologies Inc.
The StoreGrid data protection platform is designed for MSPs/VARs to provide online backup and disaster recovery services for physical and virtual environments. License fees are based on number of clients connecting to the backup server. (The backup server and replication server are free.) Before available discounts, one desktop OS is $30 per year and one server is $60 per year.
Zetta Inc.
The Zetta DataProtect online backup service integrates local, off-site, and remote office backup, archiving, and disaster recovery. Pricing starts at $225 per month.

About the Author

Megan Santosus is a Boston-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to The ChannelPro Network.

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