Managed Service Providers: 5 Challenges in Backup Monitoring and Reporting

Backup Monitoring and Reporting ChallengesBackup as a Service is one of the offerings MSPs provide to their enterprise customers. This service enables organizations to outsource day-to-day backup responsibilities to MSPs for operational efficiency. But how does an MSP itself become efficient in monitoring and reporting while still meeting the service levels required in their customer contracts? Modern backup environments are becoming more dynamic, hybrid and complex, forcing MSPs to address a wide range of products, configurations and ever increasing customer expectations. These are the MSPs managing multiple backup products, hundreds of servers, thousands of backup jobs and terabytes of data – not just one customer. Here are the five challenges that such an MSP might face when it comes to monitoring and reporting on these backups:

  1. Managing Complexity: With growth you add more and more customers requesting you to manage their data protection environment. Manually monitoring all of these backups will increase headcount and operational costs. Automating the monitoring processes becomes critical. Moreover, backup and recovery processes must run predictably and reliably to achieve the service levels required to deliver a successful managed backup service. As you add more customers to your portfolio, it becomes increasingly challenging to track the performance and cost in each environment.

Bocada makes managing performance, costing and billing easy for each customer through an intuitive and easy to manage ‘Zones’ feature. Zones allow you to group backup clients based on any user-defined attributes, such as or customer, application, cost center, location, assigned admin, etc. The following report, set up by an MSP for a financial services customer, has a separate zone defined for each customer cost center. This functionality provides a single-pane view to a bank CIO while offering cost allocation transparency to each division head.01-executive-summary-report

Zoning in Bocada also allows you to replicate a solution for as many customers as you want. If you have a new customer that has a reporting requirement which you have already been implemented for another customer, zoning automatically provides the same reporting for the new customer. Saved Reports provides a central location for running and managing reports with previously saved criteria.  This view also provides the capability to create, modify and delete Custom SQL reports.

  1. Constituent Management: Backup operators working for the MSPs might receive several calls or emails from their customers enquiring about the status of backups. These questions may be as simple as which servers are consuming data the most, which jobs are running long, average job duration, backup growth rate etc. Responding to all these queries takes time and effort.

Bocada helps you to set rules that would automate the delivery of daily reports in a graphical, easy to consume manner to the CIO at your customer enterprise. This improves customer satisfaction and reduces customer support costs. Below is an example of Backup Trends Report for multiple backup servers with weekly results for a few months.03-backup-trends

  1. SLA/Performance Reporting: Many MSPs have a difficult time reporting against service levels to their stakeholders. There might be performance guarantees made by the MSPs in terms of number of backups, frequency, success rate etc. With multiple backup products running, there’s always the need for a single reporting feature that would accurately monitor and measured backup performance against goals specified in SLAs. Not recognizing SLA failures early can cost tens of thousands of dollars in penalties.

In Bocada, MSPs can easily set SLA rules and then use reports such as SLA Trends that will show how well the pre-defined SLAs were fulfilled over time. Furthermore, if there are issues on a particular day, such as for the last bar in the following case, you can just click to get more details about what went wrong and correct it before it becomes too costly.

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  1. Better ways of billing: Many MSPs bill their customers based on each customer’s backup usage, and the pricing structure may vary for each customer. Some customers might even expect MSPs to report backup activities for several departments of the customer’s organization, for appropriate cost allocations.

Here’s an example of a report that makes it easy for MSPs to bill their customers. The MSP Blue Moon Technologies uses the chargeback report for their customers, National RO, Fleet Management and Enterprise. This Chargeback report displays the backups performed on a client within that client’s designated SLA for that client’s designated Price List, and provides subtotals and totals05-sla-chargeback

  1. Accelerated Troubleshooting: Lack of a simple, graphical view into a heterogeneous environment makes it difficult to pinpoint the root cause of failed backup jobs. The key question that concerns both the MSP and the customer is: are backup jobs successful?  Backup engineers might spend hours manually combing through a list of failed jobs, spending more time isolating issues than resolving them.

The Job Trends report in Bocada solves this with the click of a mouse. It displays the status of daily failed, successful, and partially successful backup jobs of all your added servers in a single window. The report can allow reruns to override failures from earlier in the day.   For example, we identify many failed backups in the following scenario from multiple servers, each having a different backup product.

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Bocada allows reporting for all major backup products and makes server-level drill down much simpler with an intuitive interface. You won’t have to run to each server looking for error details. You could just use a report such as above to find out what’s going on with each backup product you manage. For example, in the following scenario, the snapshot of the virtual machine could not be created, resulting in the failed backup. You are able to get this error message without having the need to go to each backup exec server and finding out individually. Bocada report does that with the click of a button!

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If you’re faced with such data protection management issues and want a solution to best tackle your backup monitoring and reporting problems, you can always reach out to Bocada at +1-425-898-2400, email sales@bocada.com or info@bocada.com or filling out the contact information.

What challenges do you face in your backup monitoring projects? Share with us in the comments below.

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