IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Build Your Own Backup Solution: Page 2 of 2

In a commoditized market you can differentiate yourself while increasing margins by selling trust and providing better recovery. By Todd Schorle

Finances

There is no doubt you are going to need to lay out some money or sign with a leasing company to stand up your data center and equip your clients with a local NAS and potentially a local BDR. To price this, we set the payoff on the client hardware to be about 18 months, so everything on the back end of the deal is pure margin. All deals are 36 months, but we make it easy to upgrade, because we want clients to have what they need if/when a disaster occurs and they have to boot.

We charge competitive pricing for the BDR and the backup service and make a consistent margin of 70 percent. We license StorageCraft and Veeam monthly through their MSP programs and pass that along to clients with a high margin. Very few customers actually know the underlying tools in their backup, because as I said at the outset, what we are really selling is trust.

Management

Because you want to sell trust for the long haul, you need to put some solid business practices in place to ensure you and your clients are not misplacing their trust. To this end, here is what I recommend:

First, instill a culture in your team that backup, and therefore recoverability, is the single most important value you will ever deliver to your clients. It’s job No. 1. Therefore, it’s important to have someone check backups daily. This does not require a full-time, dedicated technician, but it is an incredibly important job. We have a recurring ticket that requires a human to read through log files for failure and success, and potentially the absence of both. We also look at data transfer size, ensuring that data syncing is correct. While there are many different ways to accomplish this, our process is to ensure a human checks and signs off on it daily.

Second, we have recurring tickets for each client to actually recover the backup. We do this on a quarterly basis, and while I realize monthly may be better, the time commitment is huge. However, we do charge for it in our pricing. We recover a single file, which we place into the backup for our clients who do not have a BDR. For clients with a BDRU, we boot the image to Windows and manually log on to ensure performance is appropriate.

By investing in good-quality hardware and doing the drill regularly, our people know backup and recovery like the back of their hand, and that makes all the difference when you need to do a real recovery.

If I haven’t talked you out of this yet, be assured that the financial and time commitment to build your own BDR will result in higher margins and better recovery for your customers.

TODD SCHORLE is president of TS Tech Enterprises Inc., in Wyomissing, Pa., which helps small companies with 15 to 150 users implement, manage, and leverage computer technology to “solve business problems disguised as technology challenges.” He’s also a coach with Sea-Level Operations, a managed services consultancy in Sumner, Wash.

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