In the world of managed services providers (MSPs), one simple idea frequently overlooked is the relative importance of value over cost.
Providers of business continuity that grasp this important concept are finding that they can earn recurring revenue from their end-user offerings.
The key is to make it plain how the use of the right offering makes it possible to avoid downtime and its related cost.
Instead of appearing to be like insurance salespeople, simply selling a policy that may never be used, MSPs can demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) for their business continuity customers.
That ROI can often be achieved within three years.
In the US, up to 40 per cent of MSP revenues now come from backup and disaster recovery. The trend there is for MSPs to build a recurring revenue stream by offering business continuity as a service.
It is a change that the UK market will inevitably adopt, with the benefit that having such a steady source of income makes running a business much easier.
Note that more than four out of five businesses that have it are likely to take advantage of failover virtualisation at least once a year. Without such a business continuity solution, that can make for costly downtime.
Yes, many businesses have backup, whether to tape, software, or out in the cloud. Although this lets a business retrieve its data – which is vital – it will still not get a disaster-hit company back on its feet.
It is essential also to consider recovery point objectives. Many businesses only back up daily off-site, which means they can potentially lose a day's work if disaster strikes.
Yet backup can take place more frequently, say every five minutes. And data recovery can be achieved in seconds, using certain solutions, as opposed to hours or even days.
Backup helps prevent data loss; business continuity helps reduce downtime. This is increasingly important today. If a major new TV series cannot be downloaded by subscribers on the day of its release, for example, it can make the national news.
All businesses need new approaches to meet these new challenges. Backup, which has been around since the 1980s, will no longer suffice.
Continuity solutions are available, even for SMBs, that can also help them calculate how much they might save by reducing potential downtime. Business continuity is no longer the preserve of large enterprises.
This is a step above disaster recovery; it is a service that allows an organisation to continue functioning no matter the calamity. At worst, this could be the loss of its site in fire or flood, but it is more likely to involve the crashing of servers, loss of power or the activities of an employee.
Hybrid-cloud continuity offerings can also protect applications. While it may be great news that a business's emails have been retrieved, the true delivery of value is to make them available all the time.
In the US, business-continuity-as-a-service has taken off to a greater extent than in Europe. Whether people like it or not, IT is moving from selling products to selling services because technology developments are happening so quickly.
It is also much better to be paid when something works than having to wait for something to break before revenue comes in.
As the business continuity market evolves, smaller MSPs have started building specialised systems around backup and disaster recovery and are then approaching larger organisations with their own internal IT infrastructure to ask why they do not outsource.
Signs of their success indicate that organisations of all sizes should not ignore the business continuity proposition.
Austin McChord is founder and chief executive of Datto
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