Storage managers are plagued by many problems, but the most pressing one is keeping up with primary storage growth. To address this challenge, storage managers allocate most of their budget dollars and technical attention to expanding disk farms. But as the primary disk capacity balloons, a menacing problem builds under the surface: Backup infrastructures fail to keep pace and service levels fall apart.
You can bet that storage managers at many companies are losing sleep and could use your help in making sure their backup infrastructure stays healthy. In this tip, we'll review five service opportunities systems integrators can use to help clients solve backup problems.
1. Backup software upgrades
Backup software manufacturers are constantly releasing new versions of their products. To realize the benefits of new features in the code and to maintain support eligibility, it's important to keep current with software updates. The upgrade process is often laborious and risky for companies, but it's profitable territory for systems integrators because it's a very repeatable endeavor from customer to customer. Also, upgrade services usually lead to license and maintenance renewal opportunities.
2. Performance tune-ups
Not all components in the backup infrastructure scale at the same rate. An infrastructure that worked great when backing up 5 TB per night may not support 10 TB per night, causing systems to overrun their backup windows. Bottlenecks that expose themselves over time need to be fixed. Integrators can tune networks, hardware and software to improve backup capacity. Clients really value this type of engagement because it can keep them within the bounds of their budget, stretching the current backup infrastructure for another year before a big upgrade becomes necessary. Integrators benefit from these engagements by becoming the trusted advisor and positioning themselves for future strategy engagements and upgrades.
3. Technology refresh planning Computer hardware doesn't last forever. New gear is faster and cheaper than equipment installed just a few years back. Progressive clients understand this and have a plan to refresh old gear. They can often use help leveraging the refresh process to implement newer backup technologies, such as virtual tape, backup to disk, data deduplication solutions and encryption mechanisms. Technology refresh planning services position the VAR to be the primary provider for equipment sourcing and implementation services.
4. Backup capacity planning
As the primary disk capacity grows, so do the backups. Integrators can bring significant value to customers by helping to develop scalability plans. Storage managers' jobs will be significantly easier if they understand the strategy to take backup infrastructure to twice the current capacity. Integrators with knowledge of their customers' architecture help prevent clients from making penny-wise but pound-foolish long-term decisions.
5. Backup policy alignment
Backup policies have an aura of folklore around them. Frequently, nobody knows who created them or where they are written down. The backup teams may be driving themselves crazy taking daily full backups, retaining them for years. They don't know who created the policy, or who cares if they keep it. Conversely, some companies have policies in place that reflect an underestimate of the data loss risk. Either way, customers with misaligned policies could benefit from a policy review, to avoid overspending or underprotection. Integrators can facilitate the review of current policies, meet with business owners, refine the new policies and document them; this investment of resources will save your customers money in the long run, and saving money for your customers will help you gain their trust. And, if you uncover vulnerabilities in data protection, you're likely to get the first opportunity to repair it.
The backup arena provides perfect service opportunities for integrators. Most customers haven't had time to work on their backup infrastructure, and they know it's a problem. Integrators make excellent hired guns, offering a mix of advisory, equipment sourcing and implementation services to reduce risk and save money.
About the author
Brian Peterson is an independent IT infrastructure analyst, with a background in enterprise storage and open systems computing platforms. A recognized expert in his field, Brian has held positions of responsibility on both the supplier and customer sides of IT.