May 30, 2023
How Backup as a Service Boosts Data Protection
A partner can help organizations address challenges to better manage and defend their data.
IN THIS ARTICLE
The Need for Data Protection
Digital transformation and other IT initiatives have made data a critical resource in recent years. Virtually every organization in every industry is moving toward digital platforms. Many no longer maintain any on-premises IT infrastructure, and some companies don’t produce physical products at all, instead relying on data for their entire business models. So, when fast, reliable access to that data is threatened, it can devastate an organization’s operations, reputation and even survival. Both on-premises and cloud backup solutions present issues that can be addressed through Backup as a Service (BaaS) engagements.
Almost by default, organizations today have access to more data than ever, and savvy business and IT leaders are leveraging this information to gain insights into their customers, operations and markets. Along with help from emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), data is helping organizations to drive better decision-making, improve products and services, and react to changing market conditions in real time. Data also has come to play an enormous role in most organizations’ relationships with their customers. Not only are companies using customer data for more targeted marketing efforts and sales engagements, but customers are also implicitly trusting companies with an increasingly broad and deep well of their own data. This includes payment information, personal data such as addresses and birthdates, and even sensitive information related to health and finances.
This increased reliance on data exposes organizations to significant risk if their backup environments are threatened. Ransomware — which already has been major threat for several years — is growing in sophistication, with cybercriminals starting to specifically target backups as a way to get organizations to pay ransoms. Natural disasters and equipment failure are also notable pain points. Even insider threats, including the manipulation of data, can cripple an organization lacking adequate backup tools and systems.
Still, within many organizations, backup is often treated as an afterthought or a low-value task. While it is true that data backup is not a strategic initiative or a revenue driver, it is nonetheless vital to ongoing operations, providing access to critical data, applications and resources during service disruptions. Accordingly, business and IT leaders must treat backup as a critical concern. Otherwise, they may find themselves in a position where they must wait days or even weeks after an event to get back to business.
Key Capabilities for Effective Backups
These capabilities can help organizations maintain clear visibility into their backup environments to manage data and ensure its safety.
Backup systems must offer data immutability, ensuring that data cannot be deleted, encrypted or changed. This protects against malicious data corruption and helps organizations meet regulatory requirements.
Monitoring and Alerts
Organizations should insist on proactive monitoring in their backup environments, along with alerts to let them know about issues such as dwindling capacity or backup failure.
Organizations should test their backups and confirm that they can recover data successfully. They also must verify that backups are free of viruses before restoring them to production environments.
The State of Data Protection
The percentage of IT users who rarely or never back up data1
The percentage of organizations that have experienced downtime in the last year due to data loss1
The percentage of users who had to recover from backup at least once in the past year1
The percentage of backup failures that occur due to hardware failure2
Organizations sometimes make backup a lower priority because business and IT leaders aren’t sure how to overcome the challenges of building out and maintaining an effective backup environment. Backup as a Service (BaaS) offers an effective option for many organizations, protecting data and workloads while removing a burden from in-house IT staff.
EVOLVING DATA ENVIRONMENTS
Understandably, organizations tend to opt for backup solutions that solve their current problems. However, data environments are constantly evolving, and what works well today might be completely inadequate to handle the tasks of tomorrow. As data environments grow in both volume and sophistication, organizations need backup solutions that can keep up.
In some instances, organizations attempt to address backup challenges by bringing on new backup technology while maintaining legacy systems. However, this adds complexity, creating new challenges for IT staffers. With so many moving parts and interdependencies, it may be difficult to identify and address potential vulnerabilities and other issues before they cause problems.
For years, IT shops have sought to move beyond system maintenance in the data center and instead focus on more strategic tasks. Activities such as patching, updating and testing backup systems can create a burden on already strained IT staff. In addition, organizations may find it difficult to maintain space for backup solutions in their already crowded data centers.
Attracting and retaining IT talent has become a critical challenge in recent years. Data backup and recovery are complex tasks that require a diverse range of skills, from database management to cybersecurity, and employees with these capabilities are in high demand. Attracting and retaining top IT talent typically is even more challenging for smaller and midsized companies.
Organizations need streamlined management consoles that give IT professionals easy visibility into backup environments. This visibility is necessary to enable backup management tasks such as scheduling backups, preventing data corruption and setting backup priorities. Centralized management capabilities also help reduce the complexity that can hamper smooth operations.
FLEXIBILITY AND SCALABILITY
It is important that organizations be able to rapidly scale up their backup resources as data environments become more expansive. For some organizations, this growth will be relatively constant. Others may need to scale up their environments only temporarily or may even need to scale down in some instances.
As with any IT initiative, cost is a major driver for organizations weighing different backup and recovery options. Factors that might affect cost include the need to maintain archival data over time, the availability of different tiers of storage and regulatory compliance considerations. It may be less expensive for some organizations to pursue Backup as a Service.
POLICY AND CONTROL
With most organizations’ data now residing in a sprawling mix of hybrid and multicloud environments, applying data governance can be a serious challenge. However, effective data governance is essential to the success of any organization’s data operations. Many organizations also find it difficult to consistently enforce data retention and deletion policies for regulatory compliance.
Learn how CDW AmplifiedTM Managed Services can help your organization move forward.
What Does a Managed Services Provider Add?
According to CompTIA, managed services providers are becoming the preferred partner for companies that lack the internal resources to support their business technology needs. CompTIA identifies the following five key functions performed by MSPs.
An MSP will not only support technology but will also drive project success by identifying and allocating internal resources, suggesting best practices and ensuring that projects stay on schedule and under budget.
An MSP can audit an organization’s current IT systems to identify existing capabilities and gaps.
Due to their broad expertise, leading MSPs know how technology will interact with and affect other critical systems. This knowledge can help organizations sidestep potential pitfalls and keep projects on track.
Rather than leading one-off technology implementations, good MSPs help organizations to strategize around how technology can help them to meet their overall business goals.
An MSP can help organizations operating in sensitive industries to design solutions that meet important data privacy regulations.
CompTIA, “What Is an MSP or a Managed Services Provider?” June 3, 2022
BaaS has emerged as a valuable option for organizations looking to achieve the benefits of comprehensive data backup solutions while sidestepping many of the challenges associated with this critical activity. Managed BaaS differs from traditional backup systems, and even cloud-based backup solutions, in that a trusted third-party partner manages the backup environment. This management prevents problems and allows internal IT staffers to focus on strategic projects.
BaaS provides a variety of benefits from different offerings to meet an organization’s needs in ways that traditional backup may not.
The Biggest Benefits of Backup as a Service
Different organizations opt for BaaS for different reasons, but perhaps the most important are increased availability and reduced risk. In a managed BaaS offering, the service provides around-the-clock remote monitoring and incident management, as well as on-demand restore requests, planning and optimization assistance, and regular reporting. Organizations also have access to self-service web portals for fast and easy support interactions. Beyond this unparalleled degree of availability, BaaS provides business and IT leaders with peace of mind that their data is protected and readily available should they need to access it. An effective partner will work to guarantee that BaaS environments are up to date on the latest industry cybersecurity and data privacy regulations, and will also ensure that solutions provide the appropriate degree of segmentation and data encryption.
Backup as a Service vs. Traditional Backup
Traditional backup solutions remain attractive to organizations that emphasize a hands-on approach to IT, those that plan to maintain a large on-premises data center footprint and those that prefer capital expense financing over an operating expense model. By contrast, BaaS will more often appeal to organizations looking to optimize the efficiency of their IT shops and control costs through a predictable, fixed monthly subscription service fee. BaaS is also typically a good fit for organizations that expect to see growth in their data environments over time, as well as those that lack the sort of continuous support that is needed to recover quickly from an emergency. Additionally, managed BaaS is an attractive option for organizations that want to avoid vendor lock-in, as well as those with pressing IT initiatives that require the attention of internal staffers.
Different Flavors of Backup as a Service Offerings
Most people probably associate BaaS with backup environments hosted in the public cloud. However, the service is available for backup environments located in on-premises data centers, those hosted at a secondary locations (including the public cloud or a colocation center) and those utilizing a hybrid of on-premises and public cloud resources. In an on-premises BaaS engagement, backup servers and storage infrastructure are located in an organization’s own data center, while backup software and management services are provided by an outside partner. Hosted BaaS environments offer organizations the ability to store backup data in multiple geographically dispersed locations and minimize their data center footprints. A hybrid BaaS environment, meanwhile, combines both on-premises and hosted solutions, and may be a fit for organizations that need to keep a portion of their critical backup data on-premises due to regulatory or latency concerns.
Backup as a Service: Making the Decision
When selecting a BaaS provider, organizations must consider a variety of factors.
SECURITY AND COMPLIANCE
With cyberattacks becoming more numerous and sophisticated, organizations need to ensure that BaaS providers have strong security measures in place, including regular vulnerability testing. Organizations also should make sure prospective BaaS providers comply with relevant data privacy regulations.
RELIABILITY AND AVAILABILITY
When the worst happens, organizations must have complete faith that they can depend on their BaaS providers to come through and get their environments back up and running as quickly as possible. Be sure to select a BaaS provider with a track record of meeting its service level agreements (SLAs) for uptime, availability and recovery time objective.
As organizations (and their data environments) grow, they need BaaS providers that are capable of growing with them. However, it is also important that organizations have the flexibility to scale down their BaaS engagements if their needs change over time.
A managed BaaS provider should have an experienced, responsive support team that is available around the clock to assist with any issues that might arise.
Learn how different backup options from CDW can address your organization’s specific needs.
Because managed BaaS is a service offered by a third-party partner, a successful engagement depends heavily on the organization’s choice of provider and the quality of the ongoing relationship between both parties. In addition to a track record of successfully providing backup services to organizations across industries, CDW offers a range of managed services and complementary engagements that help ensure BaaS success.
CDW services can help ensure that an organization’s BaaS engagement aligns with its business needs and objectives.
Backup as a Service from CDW
CDW’s Managed BaaS solutions provide comprehensive, continuous management of organizations’ backup and recovery operations, under strict SLAs. This allows business and IT leaders to focus on their core business priorities while retaining ownership of their backup technology.
CDW offers tiered BaaS packages and flexible service options, enabling organizations to mix and match features or customize packages for particular applications based on their unique environments, data protection requirements and budgets.
The economical, predictable monthly cost structure associated with CDW’s BaaS offerings helps organizations to meet internal and regulatory requirements for data backup well into the future, without worrying that solutions will become unsustainable.
CDW Managed Services
In addition to BaaS, CDW offers a full suite of managed services. These include managed hosting, Disaster Recovery as a Service, workspace services, contact center services and more.
Through managed services engagements from CDW, organizations can free their IT staffers from the burden associated with everyday management tasks, allowing them to focus on ways to create better user and customer experiences and use the latest technologies to advance the organization’s most important business goals.
Managed services engagements also can help to streamline and optimize operations throughout an organization, promote innovation, improve performance and reduce risk.
At many organizations, business and IT leaders find that they need to undertake certain steps to help them prepare for a BaaS engagement. Complementary offerings from CDW can help organizations tackle these tasks and ensure that a BaaS initiative is set up for success. These offerings include a Data Protection Modernization Assessment, a Storage Assessment Workshop, a Data Center Assessment and a Database Security Assessment.
By working with a partner such as CDW to evaluate their environments with fresh eyes, organizations can identify and remediate potential problems that could otherwise slow down or derail the journey to an effective BaaS solution.
CDW Backup as a Service in Action
One Fortune 500 financial services company replaced five on-premises legacy backup and recovery solutions with BaaS from CDW. The legacy systems made centralized reporting on data protection difficult and time-consuming, and the company struggled to juggle the various renewal dates and refresh efforts.
Through the BaaS engagement, all data backups now take place over dedicated private circuits between the organization’s data centers and CDW’s data centers. As a result of moving to BaaS from CDW, the company achieved a 99 percent daily backup success rate, upgraded its limited support level to around-the-cloud support, adopted a more predictable cost structure and improved control over a highly secure environment.
In addition to broad offerings and deep expertise in areas such as the cloud, data center and digital velocity, CDW offers these cybersecurity engagements to help agencies protect their IT environments.
Chris DiRado, a managing consultant for CDW. He provides technical oversight on all deployment initiatives for the Managed Services Backup and Recovery Team. That includes new customer onboarding and deployments, environment build standardization, ongoing services product development, and enhancements. As a subject matter expert for backup and recovery and data protection solutions, he leads customer and internal technical sales conversations.