Recent Dell research revealed that 25 per cent of MSPs questioned do not offer their customers any type of backup solution.
This means those customers are either going elsewhere, or are at a very real risk of losing all their vital data should disaster strike.
CRN editorial director Sara Yirrell recently chaired a web seminar which discussed the significant opportunites around backup and disaster recovery (DR) in the market, and also the issues MSPs should take into account before getting involved.
On the panel were: Clive Longbottom, service director of Quocirca; Luc Eeckelaert, director of MSP Programme EMEA at Dell; Jonathan Kamminga, director of software sales engineering at Dell; and Simon Ponsford, chief executive of MSP Tivarri.
One of the questions that came up was how serious an issue is not having the right backup?
Longbottom said: “When disaster happens, one in three firms do not recover and go out of business in 18 months. There are two metrics when looking at backup: recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). For a lot of people those have been some time apart – as long as 10 days – making it difficult to figure out where to start, and this is where MSPs can help. They need to make sure those two metrics are as close together as possible, aiming for almost data continuity so a customer can remain in business.”
Kamminga added: “Using the same RTO/RPO methodology, if MSPs help their customers look at applications, they can build a ‘service catalogue’ where critical applications are highlighted. These may only be two or three and the underlying data may be small.
“The vast majority of data applies the ‘80/20 rule’ – where 80 per cent is not that valuable and 20 per cent is extremely valuable. We can help build a backup strategy around that 20 per cent, and the remaining 80 per cent is the chunk that might go to the MSP because it does not have to be recovered immediately. This is an effective way of helping customers understand where their data is, and building a service around the catalogue.”
And if anyone should doubt the need for an effective strategy, Ponsford shared a disaster story of his own.
“After the Buncefield explosion [in 2005], one of our customers had their windows blown out, but their server room was below ground. We checked all the systems were running and everything was still live; it looked good. However, we were watching the CCTV camera in the server room, and with all the water the fire brigade was pumping in, we could see levels rising.
“Having gone past the first hour thinking everything was OK, we had to invoke full DR mode and were able to flip from running onsite to running from our datacentre. Not all the data had been copied over and it was then a case of identifying the critical systems and getting the data across before the lines went down, which was about 45 minutes before everything was completely underwater.”
Ponsford added that MSPs need to be aware that customers will not always stick to agreements.
“Since our original contract, the company had installed a new server and the IT manager admitted he ‘forgot’ to tell us. We had to try to copy over that data very quickly as well that day.”
To ensure success, the panel agreed that MSPs need to think of ways to ensure customer stickiness and a level of insight, as well as having the right strategy to get them back up and running on site as soon as possible when the disaster is over.
Longbottom said: “When the recent Holborn fire occurred, an MSP we knew told their customer that the power was about to go down, and reassured them that their data was safe and they could keep on working provided they found alternative premises. It was very comforting for the customer to know that.”
Eeckelaert added: “It is important for service providers to keep customers sticking to them, but how do you work around them feeling trapped?” Ponsford said it was about being upfront and knowing how data ownership laws work.
“When you sign up a customer, it does not mean they sign a permanent contract – they need to be able to move on; they need the granularity in their data that we have. The data is owned by the customer and not the MSP. They have every right to that data,” he said.
To watch the seminar and find out what the panel said about what vendors should be doing to help their partners, how to get involved and plan a proper backup strategy that works and will bring financial rewards, please click on this link: www.workcast.com/register?pak=5597870619379117.
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