Dirty Little Secrets Some Online Backup Providers Don’t Tell You
The market for online backup and recovery has exploded. With many service providers looking to expand their offerings and the lure of recurring revenue and low up-front costs, online backup has become a very attractive business venture. But there are some dirty little secrets VARs and MSPs need to investigate before choosing a back-end service provider.
There are currently around 75 online backup companies from which to choose. Some market around cloud services. Others stick with software as a service or storage as a service terminology. Selecting the best online backup and recovery solution for your business can be very confusing. There is a lot of misinformation and exaggerated claims out there. But if you do your homework, you should be able to find the right solution to meet you and your clients’ backup and recovery needs. Here a few things to keep in mind.
1. What type of online backup organization are engaging with?
Although many companies claim to focus on online backup and recovery, in fact many of those organizations do not actually develop the software, but instead are merely sales and marketing companies that resell another company’s software and support services. They have no real control over the development of the software and what is released and what isn’t. On the other hand, a company that develops the backup and recovery software (a software company) is technically proficient in all aspects of the solution — including developing, installation, maintenance, support, etc.
So when selecting an online backup and recovery solution, you need to be clear about the type of company you want to work with. Do you want to work directly with a software provider who actually develops the technology/service you are going to resell to your customers, or a third party company where the needs of your clients may not be their main business or focus?
2. Find out how development requests are handled
When you request a new feature or function for the product, how will it be processed and executed? If you are working with a company that resells another vendor’s technology — and not the actual software development company — you’ll probably need to go through a middleman who will then have to make the request on your behalf.
If you work directly with the software company, you can get your request directly into their development cycle and see it implemented in a timely manner. Also, it’s important to find out which development method the online backup provider is using. Are they using the traditional Waterfall method or the more agile Scrum platform? Waterfall has been losing popularity due to its lack of flexibility while Scrum has been proven to be much more beneficial to MSPs and their customers. It makes a difference. So make sure to ask about it.
3. Ask questions about customer support
Good customer service is one of the most important features an online backup and recovery provider can offer. If you are working with a third party rather than directly with the software company, you may find that their level of responsiveness or knowledge about key aspects of the product are not what you would expect.
How accessible is technical support? Can you always speak to a live person or does it go to voicemail? A good customer service organization will always be available when you need them and are willing to tailor their support services to meet your specific needs. The software developer has made an investment in the education and training of its support staff. This may not be the case with a company who may be trying to keep costs at a minimum and appeal to a very wide market.
4. Make sure you understand everything about the hosting company’s data centers
It’s critical that you ask questions about where your client’s data will reside. What kind of facility is it and what level of protection will it provide? Are they mirrored data centers so that the data always exists in two locations? Do they provide such security measures 24/7 monitoring, backup generators, and dedicated Internet connections? Are the data centers SAS 70 certified? What kind of encryption technology is being used? Is the data encrypted twice – both in storage and in transit? Those are just a few of the questions about data center security that you need to ask to ensure that your clients’ data is being adequately protected.
5. Investigate the company’s financial stability
With so many companies in the online backup and recovery space, it’s important to evaluate the financial standing of the organization you are considering. Has the company made an investment in the industry, or is it just another company looking to get on the online backup bandwagon? It’s important to make sure you work with a company that has longevity.
How long has the company been around and how mature is their solution? Some newer companies may offer a low-cost solution, but think of the cost to your clients’ business if their data is unable to be recovered in the event of a disaster. Talk to the company’s customers. Are they happy? Would they recommend them? Is the company partnering with other companies in order to grow their business? These are some of the important questions to consider when assessing the viability and financial stability of an online backup organization.
The bottom line: You need to make sure you do your research before selecting an online backup and recovery provider. Think long term and make sure you are not just selecting one just based on low cost. By keeping these points in mind and evaluating all your options, you’re sure to find the right provider who will fit you and your clients’ backup and recovery needs.
Eric Webster is VP of sales and client service for Intronis. Find Intronis partner program information here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of The VAR Guy’s 2009 sponsorship program.