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Seven Questions to Ask Potential Online Backup Vendors

Seven Questions to Ask Potential Online Backup Vendors

As a member of the Intronis technical support team, I have the opportunity on a daily basis to work with MSPs and help them build successful BDR (backup and disaster recovery) solutions for their customers.  Regardless of your level of experience selling and marketing BDR solutions, it is extremely important to do your research ahead of time, compare providers, and make a decision based on how well their product is going to help you deliver value to your customer.

So the question becomes how do I choose the right provider, especially if I am new to this market and have never done this before?  Good question!  Here are seven questions you can ask when you discuss your potential BDR solution with providers:

1. How am I billed?

If you’re going to sign on the dotted line, you should know how you are being billed. Does the vendor bill on compressed usage or uncompressed?  Do they charge monthly or yearly?  Is there a charge per software installation or does the vendor charge based on storage? Are there extra charges for versioning or for replication of the data at multiple sites?  Knowing the answers to these questions means that there will be no surprises when you receive your first bill.

2. What are the supported platforms?

Learning the supported operating systems and configurations will help you determine quickly if the solution matches your needs.  What operating systems does the vendor support? What versions of these operating systems do they support? If your customers run a specific type of operating system or have similar configurations, you want to know right off the bat if your vendor supports it. Nothing is more embarrassing for you than to sign up a customer for backup, and arrive that their site, only to find out their configuration is not supported.

3. What type of backups does the solution perform?

Understanding the key functionality of the software will make you aware of its abilities as well as its limitations. Are the backups file-based or image-based? What types of databases can it backup? Is the software Microsoft SQL and Exchange aware? Does it allow you to perform local and remote backups?  What methods are available to restore the data that I plan to backup? Before rolling the solution out to your customers, you should make sure it’s capable of handling the data they need backed up and able to restore it with minimal down time.

4. Where is the support team located and what are their hours?

When you need assistance from your vendor, you should know where the support team is located and when they can respond to your requests for help.  Where specifically is the support team located?  What mediums of communication do they offer?  What are their SLAs?  Chances are if your vendor does not support hours convenient to your time zone then you’ll find yourself frustrated if you’re unable to get in touch with them in an emergency.

5. How can I sell the solution?

One you sign up with a provider you’ll want to know what tools you will have at your disposal to help sell it to your customers. Does the solution support rebranding with your company? Are there any marketing materials available that you can customize and distribute to your customers? How do you quote your customers for their storage effectively?  The availability of these things can help determine the success or failure of a partnership. You want to know that partnering with an online backup vendor won’t just benefit them but that it will help you increase your revenue stream and allow your company to grow.

6. How does the vendor you are going with differ from other backup solutions out there?

This question is probably the most vital if you are switching from one vendor to another. No two online backup vendors are exactly alike. They all have different ways of handling billing, backups, and restores. Knowing the differences between your old vendor and your new one will prevent you making incorrect assumptions the functionality of your new partner.

7. Does your vendor sell directly to end-users or through the channel?

When you sign up with a backup vendor you want to make sure you won’t have to compete with them for your own business.  Does your vendor do direct business or do they only sell through channel?  If your vendor sells directly to customers, what they would do if one of your customers attempts to approach them with direct business?  The last thing you want to do is miss out on revenue because your customers were able to negotiate lower pricing directly with your vendor.

Armed with these seven key questions, you’ll be ready to examine online backup vendors with increased precision.  While no single vendor is absolutely perfect, you will find that having the important details at your disposal can help you make the best decision possible for your customers. You can then breathe a sigh of relief as you begin what should be a stress free and mutually beneficial partnership with your new vendor.

Evan Crean is a Cloud Backup Consultant at Intronis, which is a leader in cloud backup and recovery solutions for the IT channel. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship. Read all Intronis guest blogs here.
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