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How Proper Sky Built an MSP Cloud Backup Solution with MSP360 and AWS

Proper Sky, a Managed Services Provider based in Pennsylvania, provides data backup and recovery services to approximately 1500 endpoints. For an MSP operating at that scale, having easy-to-manage, reliable and cost-efficient backup technology in place is critical. With that need in mind, Proper Sky selected MSP360 Managed Backup and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to manage its backup and recovery routines. Keep reading for the story of why the company chose MSP360 and AWS, and which benefits it has enjoyed since adopting the solution more than a half-decade ago.

The Challenge: Finding Reliable, Affordable, Cloud-Friendly Backup

For the first several years after Proper Sky’s founding in 2006, the company’s backup strategy centered around local data backup management. The tools chosen back then were easy to use yet unreliable. They consistently failed at backup and recovery jobs and at reporting about failing backups.

Proper Sky learned this lesson the hard way.

“When we had to do a recovery for one of our clients and we found out that the data actually hadn’t been backing up - even though the service and logs kept saying ‘backup successful. There’s no harder call as an IT person to tell a customer their backup failed. That’s when we knew it was time to find a new solution,” said Jim Smith, founder of Proper Sky

That experience prompted the company to begin searching for new backup software that would generate reliable backups and would enable offsite backups using cloud storage, instead of backing up only to local infrastructure.

Cloud-compatible backup solutions proved easy to find, but most of them lacked both affordability and the ability to monitor backups closely in order to guarantee success. “There were a ton of solutions out there but we couldn’t monitor them and they were difficult to implement,” Smith said.

The Solution: MSP360 Managed Backup’s “Amazing Product” with Amazon Web Services

Eventually, Proper Sky found the solution it was searching by combining MSP360 Managed Backup with AWS cloud storage. “Nothing really hit all of our X’s until we found MSP360,” Smith recalled.

For the MSP, MSP360 Managed Backup provided several key benefits. One was its compatibility with every major cloud-based storage service. With MSP360 Backup, Proper Sky is now able to use the Amazon S3 service to provide storage space for all of its backup and recovery routines.

“MSP360 is way ahead in scale, sophistication and being platform agnostic,” Smith said.

Smith also said that MSP360’s pricing model was a good fit for his company because it is designed with MSPs in mind. Combined with the ability to “white-label” MSP360 Backup by branding the product as a Proper Sky tool, MSP360's pricing architecture has made it easy for Proper Sky to achieve cost-efficient storage at scale.

MSP360 has also helped Proper Sky to control backup costs by making it easy to take advantage of cost-effective storage in the Amazon Web Services cloud. As noted above, the company now uses MSP360 Managed Backup to automate backups to Amazon S3. The company currently stores about 10 terabytes of data on Amazon S3 and is expanding its AWS storage usage at a rate of around 2 terabytes per year. In addition, AWS’s IAM service allows the company to finetune access control policies for backup data in order to maximize security.

“We find the process to be very reliable and we have been able to provide customers with their lost or accidentally deleted files/documents on a number of occasions,” Smith said of performing recoveries using MSP360 Managed Backup and AWS. He added that “AWS support was great and really worth the money” for setting up a cloud-based recovery process. “They shared with us their PowerShell script that performs a series of checks to make sure you’re ready to move your machine to the cloud.”

In fact, AWS has proven so reliable and secure that Proper Sky recently transitioned to AWS for almost all of its infrastructure needs, replacing on-premise servers. “Last year we fully shut down our data center in Center City Philadelphia,” Smith said. “We got rid of any production
server we owned and moved it to AWS. We consolidated all of our app servers into AWS setup site-2-site VPN. We’ve been actively pushing our clients to do the same.”

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MSP360 Managed Backup and AWS services have not only helped to simplify Proper Sky’s backup needs. They have also provided it with more flexible and reliable recovery options. “Using Connectwise Automate and MSP360’s sophisticated and well-documented command-line options, not only are we able to verify that the service is running or the backups are working but we’re able to actually automate file-level restores. It’s one thing to know your data’s there, it’s another to actually see it.”

Proper Sky now uses MSP360 to automate data recovery testing in order to gain confidence that data backups will enable successful recovery following a disaster. In addition, the company has begun restoring virtual machine instances directly to the AWS cloud, a process that is faster and simpler than rebuilding on-premise servers following a disaster.

In short, Smith said, “We wanted a cloud backup product where we could control the destination, and that was white-labeled and reliable. We also wanted version control, encryption, and flexibility.” MSP360 Managed Backup provided all of those features.

MSP360 Managed Backup Service
  • Cross-platform backup and recovery
  • Flexible licensing
  • Bring-your-own storage approach
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