Managed Service Providers offer a wide range of management services to their customers. In addition to services for deployment, security and monitoring of customers’ environments, MSPs also need to provide a reliable backup solution for their applications. As a growing number of MSPs offer services on AWS, BaaS on EC2 becomes an essential part of the MSPs service portfolio.
For any company running its production environments on EC2, it is critical to have a proper backup solution in place to provide an answer any data loss scenarios.
When planning a BaaS solution on EC2 (and other platforms/environments), there are several considerations that need to be taken into account: To leverage the snapshot capabilities AWS provides (mainly EBS snapshots), MSPs must put together a solution to manage and schedule snapshots, as well as to delete old ones. When planning such a solution – whether based on a set of scripts or a commercial data protection solution – one needs to weigh all considerations involved and make sure the BaaS solution is good enough to support the critical applications of the managed accounts.
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Here are the most important considerations:
- Maintainability: Spinning up scripts for each customer or environment can become a tedious task. Dealing with new customers, AWS credentials, new resources to backup, changed schedules and RPOs etc., requires constant maintenance and updating. The backup solution needs to be easily maintainable to avoid extra overhead for the MSP.
- Reliability: A BaaS solution must be reliable and work seamlessly without constant attending. A reliable backup solution must clearly indicate whether or not each of the backups is being performed correctly. It is difficult to attain such clarity with a large number of scripts running and the fact that scripts are hard to maintain makes them also error-prone and less reliable.
- Flexibility: With a variety of managed customers with different environments and requirements, MSPs need flexibility and ease-of-use in setting backup policies: For example, certain customers run applications, such as databases, that require a special application-consistent backup. This is a relatively complicated task that requires very good monitoring over the process and the ability to fail gracefully without affecting the production environment. Additionally, providing BaaS require the MSP to be able to easily set different schedules and different retention windows for different users. These requirements are very difficult to attain by a set of scripts and typically require a comprehensive backup solution.
- Control: MSP’s devops engineers must have an easy way to control and monitor backup operations of managed accounts: Easily view the backup status of each account, get alerts in case something goes wrong, make changes to configuration and add new resources.
- Recoverability: In the end of the day, the most important test for every backup solution is when actual recovery is needed. When a data loss scenario occurs, be it from a human error, software malfunction or an outage, MSPs must be able to quickly and successfully recover all data and applications for their customers. First and foremost, the recovery process needs to succeed. This means that the snapshots need to be consistent and recoverable, and the recovery process should be highly reliable and automated as much as possible. Second, recovery needs to happen fast to minimize downtime. Automation also helps in this respect. The requirement for rapid recovery is becoming even more critical in case of an outage scenario, where it is likely that many managed accounts will suffer downtime at the same time. For the recovery process to be efficient even in a major crisis like this, the recovery process must allow many environments to recover in a very short time.
- Scalability: On top of the considerations covered above, such as control, maintenance, reliability and recoverability, a solid BaaS solution must also be able to work in a large scale without compromising on any of the other requirements. It gets trickier to achieve this with scripts as the scale gets bigger.
In summary, MSP must seek a BaaS solution that takes into account the above considerations and offer their managed customers a backup solution that is on par with solutions available for the traditional datacenter and in the private cloud.
Cloud Protection Manager (CPM) is an enterprise-class backup, recovery and disaster recovery solution for EC2, allowing protection of critical applications in the EC2 cloud. Subscription to free trial can be found here. Information about the MSP Program can be found here.