When Disaster Strikes: Preparing Your Customers with BDR

MSPs can play a vital role in keeping their clients’ data safe from loss and disruption during extreme weather events.

Natural Disasters

The Atlantic hurricane season has arrived, providing plenty of reminders of just how vulnerable coastal cities are to these monster storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that there will be as many as 21 named storms and 10 hurricanes this season, and we have already seen significant damage in the U.S. from Hurricane Ida.

For businesses in the path of these storms, which are arriving with greater frequency every year, the potential for data loss and disruption is significant. Affected regions may be without power for weeks, and physical infrastructure (including data centers and offices) can be irreparably damaged by flooding and high winds.

These companies need to have a robust backup and data recovery (BDR) solution in place, preferably one that’s part of an all-encompassing disaster preparedness plan. MSPs can help these firms minimize data loss and IT disruptions during severe weather events and other disasters, allowing them to focus on getting their businesses back up and running and ensuring their employees are safe.

MSPs should offer a full suite of offerings that can help protect client data and infrastructure and assist with creating a disaster response plan. Key components of this would include:

A flexible and robust backup solution. The backup system should be easy to use and allow the MSP to meet all their clients’ needs with a single offering. These backup solutions are essential for companies that rely heavily on real-time, transactional access to their systems and those that have to keep data for compliance purposes.

Multiple backup copies. Off-site storage is a must, especially for clients in coastal areas or other high-risk zones, such as areas affected by wildfires. Data and applications should be backed up at an off-site facility at a safe distance from the primary location or using cloud-based resources. Using the cloud has given companies the option of having data backed up in different states or countries. In general, MSPs should encourage clients to follow the 3-2-1 backup rule. The rule states you need to keep three copies of your data, stored on two types of media, with one copy offsite.

A clear path to data recovery. Recovery processes can occur in various ways, but there should be a plan in place for connecting the client’s emergency operations location to their data and applications. More importantly, MSPs need to work with clients to test the recovery process with their clients regularly.

A complete disaster recovery plan. As part of the BDR implementation process, help clients develop a holistic plan for emergencies. For example, if there’s an event, clients need to designate specific employees who will be responsible for managing the safety of each facility, and there should be contingency plans in place for smooth switchovers if a data center goes down.

In addition, if critical systems like email go down, there should be an emergency call tree in place, so employees know how to contact each other and provide updates. Finally, facility evacuation plans should be developed and regularly tested. For facilities in higher risk areas, this plan may even include having generators or maintaining stockpiles of emergency supplies (food, blankets, water) if employees are stranded.

While most companies recognize the importance of BDR, many do not have a solution in place or rely on their Microsoft 365 recycle bin for backup. That provides a huge opportunity for MSPs to offer robust and reliable BDR via the cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, which recent Barracuda survey data found are particularly appealing right now.

This removes some of the IT burdens from the client while providing peace of mind that they can quickly rebound and regroup if their facilities are damaged or destroyed. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a slow-rolling disaster that exposed just how ill-prepared many firms were for dealing with scenarios in which their physical facilities were undamaged but still unavailable.

Even after making changes to their infrastructure to enable remote work, many companies failed to update their business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans. So, whether your customers need help protecting themselves from natural disasters or ensuring remote workers’ data is properly backed up—or both—now’s an excellent time to have those conversations.

Neal Bradbury

Vice President, MSP Strategic Partnerships for Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners.