Very few people get excited when they hear the word “backups”, yet no one in their right mind would operate their business without backing up their data. The unfortunate truth is that most conversations about backups only scratch the very surface of the actual situation and almost none will ever tell the whole story.
So, pull up a chair and settle in for a few minutes because I have a story to tell you which may make you realize how completely in the dark you are about your current backup situation despite what you may think.
Our story begins with Dave, the owner of Acme Widget Incorporated, a company seeking our MSP services. When we first meet Dave and start asking questions about his business, his IT infrastructure, his IT needs and pain points, one of the main points of our focus is always backups. Dave assures us that his company absolutely has backups of all their important data and his current IT guy, Peter, has it well under control. In fact, they just had a meeting about it just a few months ago and Peter assured him that their backups were indeed fully functional.
Great! Backups are a top priority for us, so to go into this relationship knowing that there is a solid data protection plan in place is welcome news.
Following these initial discussions, we perform a complete audit of the potential client’s infrastructure so we can get a good overview of everything and make sure we didn’t miss anything during our initial talks with Dave.
Upon spending some time with their IT guy, Peter, and digging into all of the company’s systems, we discover that although the backups are technically running successfully, only half of the company’s data is accounted for in the backups, and there is actually only 2 or 3 days of usable retention! How could this be? Dave was pretty confident that the backups for his company were working and well under control!
While discussing this with Peter the IT guy, we begin to understand where things went wrong. You see, Peter knows full well that the backups aren’t exactly in an ideal state, he knows they need more storage and additional licenses to cover their workloads, which have grown substantially over the last year, and he claims that his requests were denied by none other than Dave, the owner! Peter had organized a meeting with Dave a few months back to discuss the issue, fully prepared with data consumption metrics and trends along with quotes from 3 different hardware vendors and a quote from the backup software company for the additional licenses they needed, he had even picked out the best option for Dave to make things easy, for a grand total of 25000$ they would be back on track.
When presented with Peter’s request, Dave was a little surprised by the total cost, and had asked Peter if they really did need all of this. Sensing his apprehension, and not wanting to let his boss down, Peter started brainstorming on the spot for ways they could get by with less, or even no additional costs. It was obviously not the ideal situation, but Peter mentioned they could reduce the retention and adjust the backup selection, maybe play around with the compression settings… Unfortunately, most of this went over Dave’s head so without fully understanding the implications Dave had asked Peter whether or not they would still have backups if they did all of these optimizations or not. A little less confidently, Peter said yes, and unfortunately that’s where the conversation ended.
Everyone involved had nothing but the best intentions here, Dave the business guy was simply trying to ensure any business expenditures were justified and necessary, and Peter the IT guy was just trying to come up with creative solutions to their backup problems when Dave didn’t jump on board immediately with his proposal. We see this play out time and time again for all kinds of companies that we deal with. It’s a tough problem to solve, but there is a pretty good way to make sure that everyone is always on the same page and that these types of situations do not occur in your company.
Set up an official backup policy, signed by all involved parties which stipulates the absolute minimum acceptable backup configuration. In our experience, this works out to everyone’s benefit. Your IT department no longer needs to “sell” you a new backup solution, they simply need to inform you about what expenditures to expect in order to meet your policy. Finance doesn’t need to negotiate the costs on things they do not fully understand. And you, the business owner get to have peace of mind knowing your backups are not only working, but working to a level that satisfies all your business needs!
To make things even easier, here is a policy document we created ourselves which you are welcome to download and use in your business. There are no copywrites or watermarks, feel free to make any adjustments you need in order for this to fit your business.