For MSPs, backup and disaster recovery (BDR) is a thriving business opportunity. According to Gartner, the backup and disaster recovery market is expected to grow from $5.2 billion in 2014 to $7 billion in 2019. Getting more specific, the fastest growing segment is forecasted to be Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), which is expected to reach $5.8 billion by 2018.
Whether you’re currently offering your customers BDR or just now starting the hunt for a platform that will enable it, you need to make sure that the value provided by the solution is going to allow you to make it a profitable branch of your organization. This means picking between a variety of potential vendors, all of which will have a slightly differentiated feature set. So which feature or functionality is going to bring you the most value and allow you to maintain those profitable margins?
Without hesitation, I would decisively put all my chips on a product that has fully-managed support as one of its features. It may seem that I'm using the term feature loosely here, but if a product can realistically be called "fully-managed" then it should be built into the product in the same way that a feature would be. I would go as far as to say that fully-managed functionality is the single most valuable “feature” of any backup product you may consider.
First, let’s define what is meant by “fully-managed,” then I'll get into the reasoning behind my passionate assertion that you absolutely need to consider a BDR product that features fully-managed support.
Like many things in life, there is no single definition of “fully-managed” that everyone can agree on. There’s a whole vast gray area between standard product support and completely outsourcing every aspect of the product management.
The way I see it, a fully-managed solution is one that doesn’t require you to staff up in order to maintain it. Sure, you’ll still need members of your team to be familiar with the product and willing to dedicate some time to it, but you shouldn’t need to hire a new person (or multiple people) to keep the operations running smoothly.
- End-to-end management and verification of backup success
- Monitoring of local appliance and machine for performance and storage efficiency
- Monitoring onsite and offsite backup status, offsite storage and bandwidth utilization, backup schedules and offsite sync success
- Troubleshooting and remediating local appliance and machines in case of backup (or verification) failure
- Disaster recovery testing
- Assistance with recovery and restores
- 24x7 phone or chat support for your team
And obviously there needs to be a bit of flexibility based on your current situation and needs. This leaves your team with a healthy balance between time spent managing the product and maintaining a level of control over it.
Why Fully-Managed BDR is so Valuable
As I said above, I believe that no other feature, regardless of how captivating it might seem, is going to bring in enough revenue to outmatch the cost savings of a managed platform. And please understand that that is exactly what this is about: cost.
Every product is going to have a pricetag, but that doesn't really provide you with the whole picture. What you really need to look at in determining value is the complete cost of ownership of the product, which takes into account all of the direct and indirect time and money that you and your team put into the product (see the bulletted list above).
Lowering that cost of ownership improves your profits from the offering, and it does so on a consistent and ongoing basis. Sure, there are other features that could help remove an upfront cost (direct-to-cloud) or that could add to what you're able to offer to customers (desktop backup and restore), but it's difficult to find any aspect of a product that saves as much cost over the life of the product as fully-managed support. And there are a variety of ways that a fully-managed BDR product leads in cost savings...
Re-distributing Technician Hours
The first, and probably most glaring, of these benefits is that, upon purchasing a fully-managed product, you instantly accrue a team of people that is there to help your organization succeed with that tool. You essentially get net new technical resources that help with setup, monitor for issues, and just make sure everything is going as planned.
This is key whenever you hit a bump in the road, but it's also critical when everything is going perfectly as planned. With BDR platforms, one of the biggest time commitments comes when nothing has even gone wrong. Technicians spend hours upon hours each week performing tedious tasks like monitoring and scheduling backups.
While these are important tasks that come with maintaining a successful solution, these efforts don't bring tangible revenue to your business. Any such hours that can be redistributed to value-adding or revenue-driving activities help with the growth of your organization.
Bringing Balance to the (Work) Force
Apologies for the lousy Star Wars pun.
A fully-managed BDR platform helps to quell one of the biggest thorns in the side of this industry: technician turnover. According to Appirio, 90% of C-level executives say that recruiting and retaining tech talent is one of the top challenges at their business. With turnover comes the obvious pain of attempting to replace that position and the need to stay competitive as far as salary is concerned. A lesser considered cost is the amount of time that it takes to get a new technician up to 100% efficiency.
Having a fully-managed solution helps ease the pain of losing an employee and enables you to onboard new employees more quickly. By avoiding distractions caused by the multitude of fire alarms that come up over the course of a week, new technicians are able to get up to speed on the important, revenue adding aspects of your business.
This also means that you’re able to stay competitive as far as technician salaries are concerned because each of them will be driving more actual value for your business than your competitors’ technicians, who are busy scheduling and monitoring backups six hours a week. Having a growing company and competitive salaries are two of the most important factors in attracting and retaining the highest quality employees.
Lastly, a fully-managed solution enables scalability and growth. Rather than hiring more technicians you can focus your hiring strategies around account managers or sales engineers, which will in turn help you build your BDR customer base. With this type of solution you'll see that your existing tech resources go a lot further than they would with a minimally supported product regardless of its feature set.
This turns the standard argument against fully-managed solutions, that it forces business owners to fire staff, on its head. Instead of laying off technicians, the more likely result of signing on with a fully-managed backup and disaster recovery platform is that you will be able to hire more level 2-3 technicians and sales staff. While firing technicians is generally a negative experience, I don't think anyone is going to complain about being a little stingier with their hiring while simultaneously experiencing growth.