Server Backup Advisory: Are You about to Get Sacked with Data?

Posted by Mary Anne Halligan on Nov 10, 2015, 6:00:00 AM

One of the perpetual challenges web hosting companies face is estimating backup needs. It’s a conundrum we understand well here at R1Soft, because it’s our job to help you better serve your customers. 

Recently, I went out to buy a new snow blower. I live in the Boston area, so my new machine needed to be able to keep up with last year’s record snow in our area (110 inches!) as well as the Old Farmer’s Almanac prediction for 2016.

What is that prediction? Well, it’s uncertain. The Farmer’s Almanac says the Northeast will get a “slew of snow,” although “less” than last year. The National Weather Service agrees, in general. But they also warn that the oncoming strong El Niño weather pattern could result in significantly less snowfall. The truth is, no one knows how much snow Boston will get this winter. But I still needed to be prepared.

Here were two of my considerations:

  • If I got a really small, easy-to-handle snow blower, it wouldn’t be able to handle lots of snow.
  • If I bought the top of the line, I wouldn’t be able to fully operate it. It would be too big for me to handle, and I would be paying for features I didn’t need.

So, I purchased the snow blower that was right-sized for me, recognizing that I would face uncertain snow volumes.


How Does This Relate to Backup?

It is impossible to predict the volumes of your backup data. The problem here is that we’re trying to predict something that is, technically, unpredictable. Fluctuations are a part of life, whether we’re talking snowfall or data volumes. In order to function as smoothly as possible, we have to deal with each problem in a way that works best for us, most of the time.

In other words, you need to consider a solution that has robust enough features to meet unpredictable backup needs, without being too cumbersome. Your customers may experience a spike in user data, transactions or types of data files. They may acquire a new business or implement new policies that alter their data usage and requirements. You have to be ready.

As web-hosting business or provider, you should discuss each customer’s situation with them individually, to determine what amount of backup will be right-sized for them. Added together, their probable needs point to the amount of capacity that will be right-sized for you, so you can serve them both effectively and efficiently. Ask them:

  • What are your current data volumes?
  • What is your expected growth – over what period of time?
  • What types of files do you typically back up? 

If you don’t plan for a scalable architecture, you could run out of licenses or storage capacity for backup. If you’re then forced to acquire more backup quickly, you’ll get what’s available, not necessarily the best or most appropriately robust solution. (Imagine trying to buy a snow blower the day after a huge storm hits.) This scenario virtually assures more problems and greater inadequacies in the future, further compounding your challenges instead of relieving them.

Data itself is like snow. It can come in the form of small “flakes” or huge, heavy ones. It can accumulate slowly and consistently or as a big dump from a surprise storm. At R1Soft, we’ve created a solution that enables you to cope with both predictable and unpredictable fluctuations. With scalable capabilities, it’s easier to remain right-sized. You can easily store and manage files, and when files are really big you can back them up.

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Mary Anne Halligan is Product Marketing Director for backup solutions at Continuum Managed Services, driving marketing programs, partner engagement and cool events for the R1Soft server backup and Continuity247™ backup and disaster recovery product lines. She brings extensive technical experience and a passion for creative marketing, developing new revenue opportunities for the company’s more than 3,500 partners. With a particular focus on software, services, storage and platforms, Mary Anne was previously in product management for several years at EMC, product marketing at HP, and served as an independent consultant for several Boston area small businesses.

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Topics: Backups, Webhosting, hosting industry, server backup

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