Every managed services provider (MSP) has had a question or two on backup and disaster recovery (BDR). To help answer some of the top questions we reached out to disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (IC) solutions vendor Datto  to find out what MSPs have been asking them. Take a seat, grab a pen and paper, and pay attention to what we've learned in this MSPmentor exclusive. But don't worry, there won't be a test.

Datto Sales Manager Hallett Nichol helped us with his insights on this topic. His answers focused on costs, bandwidth and local recovery capabilities.

How do I justify the hardware costs alongside the monthly charge?

MSPs are often concerned the additional hardware costs that tag along with BDR. Many MSPs enforce the idea that typical small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need a local appliance as the first level of protection against disaster -- proper replication may not be available.

"The most effective framework I've seen towards incorporating the hardware burden of a proper BDR solution surrounds an upfront setup charge," Nichol said. "Having a tech walk into a client's office with a brand new piece of hardware for a flat setup fee allows the MSP to remove a sizable chunk of their initial cost."

It’s because of this upfront setup charge that the remaining cost to MSPs is then spread throughout 6-12 months.

"The setup charge is advertising the ability to have an offsite copy ready to be seeded by the time the setup is over," he said. "So for one flat fee, they have successful local backups and a copy en-route to the cloud."

How do I navigate around poor bandwidth that may or may not jeopardize a client's off-site replication?

Nichol stressed the important of having a local appliance, pointing to the “beauty” of having one.

"With the right provider, you have assistance in getting the initial image offsite so you are only concerned with pushing the incremental changes through the client's pipeline," he said.

He recommends a solution that proves the capability to export periodic images over external drives to further archive, preventing a data loss in the event that the local appliance is unusable and offsite backups are catching up.

Do I have the proper off-site requirements for proper local recovery capabilities?

Avoid the feeling of inadequacy by finding a BDR vendor that is going to provide a detailed landscape for offsite recovery before it’s even discussed.

Be able to virtualize an infrastructure from the cloud. “The right provider will have the resources to show their client what that DR process looks like before a true DR because confidence means everything,” he said. “Doing quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly tests is something every MSP should strive for but it also comes down to the technology they're using and the availability of the vendor to assist in those tests.”

Recovery should go beyond the limitations of failover bandwidth and connectivity. Don’t make failover site bandwidth an afterthought.

“In severe disasters, being able to supply a company with a new appliance shortens the need to rely on potentially meager connectivity and empowers the MSP in front of their client,” Nichol said. “Many vendors provide additional coverage but for an additional fee thus making that option less and less attractive.”