Becoming a Managed Service Provider is Your Gift to Yourself : Online Backup

November 30, 2011

Are you looking to put another present under your own tree?  As a reseller or IT consultant, I’m always looking for more ways I can connect with my customers and provide an additional service that both parties can profit from.  Managed services, and in particular, online backup have become a rapidly growing segment of my business for the last five years now.  The best thing about selling backup is the fact that it is something that all of my customer need.  The biggest hurdle is making the customer take the leap from a conventional backup solution to a managed, online service.  Here are some of the selling points I use to make it a win-win scenario.

Deployment Cost of Online Backup

Initial deployment cost for an online backup solution versus regular tape backup is significantly lower.  As new servers and equipment are purchased, we forgo the high cost of tape drive libraries and media, opting for a monthly recurring online backup service fee.

Ongoing Total Cost of Ownership in Online Backup

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is something near and dear to the hearts of small business owners.  If you can present a lower TCO with some solid numbers, the sale practically makes itself.  Online backup solutions have a relatively stable recurring cost, varying only slightly as the years pass.  Traditional tape backup solutions require not only the initial investment, but the continual reinvestment of additional hardware (media) over the course of the implementation period.  When I have customers tell me they haven’t had to purchase new tapes for years, I offer them a free test-restore of their backup.  Most quickly learn that just the backup job succeeding does not always go hand-in-hand with a successful restore.

Administrative Costs

Someone has to swap those tapes.  Day in and day out, the tape drive needs to be reloaded, the logs need to be checked, and the data needs to be rotated to an offsite location for safekeeping.  Online backup eliminates two of those three costs of administrative overhead (labor).  Even the remaining factor, reviewing the logs, becomes simpler with online backup.  With a quick review of the daily log email, administrators only have to go as far as the ‘backup successful’ subject line.

Do yourself a favor this holiday season.  If you’re not already selling managed services, take some down time and look into it.  The best way to get started is online backup.  With fully branded software, you can own your own backup business, and use the good name you have built with your customers to help them transition to the cloud.

— The Backup Master


Take a Journey Through SOS ServerSave : Server Backup Reseller Program

November 27, 2011

At SOS, we’ve spent a lot of time working on how to make our products the best for our partner resellers. We realize how difficult it is to make it in a competitive marketplace, with constantly changing technology, and clients whose understanding is constantly changing as well.

That is why we’re offering daily webinars for the SOS ServerSave partner program. These webinars take prospective and existing SOS partners through all of the cost-effective, high margin, opportunities SOS offers to reseller partners.

The SOS ServerSave reseller program is the complete package. In our webinars, you’ll take a guided tour through the SOS ServerSave portal, the web integration package, Pulse Centralized Management, and the new partner dashboard. These are all included in one price when you start reselling SOS ServerSave.

If you’d like to ask your own questions about the SOS ServerSave reseller program, please reach out to our Partner Specialists at 877.893.3611 or sign up to attend an upcoming webinar.

You can take a look at a webinar right now, hosted by SOS CEO Ken Shaw or Partner Product Manager Derek Wood. Click here to review some past webinars!


Key Man Online Backup : Evaluate your Data Backup Plan

November 25, 2011

Most businesses have some sort of remote users.  Whether they are travelling salesmen, users from satellite offices in another state, or just the small business owner working from home, these users generate the important documents and data that make businesses thrive.

How are these remote documents protected?

Traditionally, a user stores his or her documents in the ‘My Documents’ folder on a system.  This user-specific folder is located on the local hard drive, be it on a laptop or a desktop.  In traditional business networks, this folder is redirected or synchronized to a hard drive on the server when the machine logs into the network.  Files worked on at home are then stored on the network, to be backed up with the normal process.  If the laptop is lost or stolen, only the files that have successfully completed this synchronization process are protected and recoverable.

Unfortunately, some businesses are more tolerant of data loss than others.  Imagine the presentation the salesperson worked on at the hotel the night before the meeting disappearing along with the laptop.  Since the files weren’t synchronized, the presentation is lost.

Online Protection – All the Time

Though most of my customer use online backup to protect their servers only, lately I’ve been identifying a need that is piquing my customer’s interest.  Just like small business may purchase ‘key man’ insurance, I’ve been presenting the concept of ‘key man’ online backup.

While not every machine in a network needs to be backed up individually, there are certain key players that may need more protection.  These remote users are the most common.  By backing up these machines individually, a business can prevent the coverage gap that occurs during the normal synchronization and backup process.  By protecting these files during this critical juncture, businesses can be sure that important data will always be available.  Even with a stolen laptop, their presentation can be downloaded to another machine, allowing the show to go on.

So who in your organization are these key players?  Whether you are the CIO or Network Administrator, identifying these key players is critical.  I’ll list some of the key players I’ve identified over the years.

Key Players

  • Remote Sales Force – Tweaks to presentations and marketing material need to be made on the fly.  Make sure the changes are protected on the fly as well.
  • Network Administrators – These professionals are constantly monitoring your network, documenting and gathering important data about your network health.
  • Executives – Look, I’ve been a network admin.  The last thing you want to do is tell the boss that his document didn’t synchronize.
  • Accountants – Sometimes the best time to balance the books is at home.  Don’t let a full night’s work go to waste.

Identify the key players in your business when you evaluate your network backup plan.  Decide your tolerable level of loss and make sure those machines that need to be protected are protected.  As always, simply identify what material is going unprotected and for how long.  After that, the decisions are easy.

 — The Backup Master


The Seasons Bring More and More Cloud Worthy Data : Digital Data Backup Solution for Smart Phones,Tablets & Laptops

November 23, 2011

Seasons are changing and the holidays are rapidly approaching.  As I gear up my own family for the festivities, I’m also thinking about my clients.  With new Black Friday electronics coming into the home, I need to make sure they’re prepared for the reality of the care and feeding required.

Just like when purchasing a new pet for a child, I like to make sure my clients understand the responsibilities required when caring for these new toys.  While a dog or cat requires love and affection, feeding and regular visits to the back yard, new electronics have their own requirements.  As I talk to them about maintenance and warranty concerns, I also have to bring up the purpose of most of these consumer electronics.

Data

Just about all of these devices have one common goal or one side-effect as I sometimes call it.  They create data.  Let’s go over some of the most common new products you might be purchasing and what sort of data you will be creating that needs to be safeguarded through proper backups.

Cell Phones – The day of the old ‘brick phone’ is over.  Making calls is something the manufacturers don’t talk about as much anymore.   We all assume that call quality will be fine and that the other party will receive our messages.  The more advertising-friendly features of phones are their data-gathering capabilities.  We fill flash cards with photos of events, video clips and even have the ability to edit and create professional video on some of the newer devices.  Do these files languish on the phone?  The solution: Make sure your desktop or laptop has a reader that will directly support the flash card in your phone and save your files there.  Transfer them regularly to the trusty desktop, and make sure they are going to a folder that is being backed up by your backup software. Backup your Android and your iPhone with SOS.

Tablets – From the iPod to some of the newer Android entries, tablets have hit the market by storm.  Unfortunately, even in the process of using them as a laptop-replacement, many users are neglecting the fact that they are creating important home and work documents and treating the tablet as just another gadget.  The solution:  Make sure your files are being synced to another device, be it though a flash card or over your home network.  The tablet will cease being a fun toy as soon as an important file is lost forever.

Laptops – More and more school-age kids are carrying laptops.  From term papers to final projects, the files they create are just as important as business files.  There is nothing like the ability to reprint a project that was lost in the grading process.  The solution:  Backup.  For a very reasonable cost, these important files can be protected with online backup, without the intervention of the student.  As they use the machine, the files are transferred online and are protected from loss.

So here’s to a happy holiday season.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re creating more and more data every day.  Let’s keep it protected.

— The Backup Master


UK Survey Shows Poor Backups are Putting Businesses At Risk : Online Backup for Business

November 18, 2011

Today Vanson Bourne released a study which showed that on average most businesses in the UK backup data only once per month. One tenth of the 1,000 businesses surveyed backup only once per year.

Businesses are displaying a worryingly lax attitude to backup which could cause problems in the event of a disaster, as it will make data recovery much more difficult and time consuming.

A recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne on 1,000 UK companies revealed that the average firm only backs up data once a month, while one tenth only backup once a year, making them vulnerable to lost data.

The firm explained that by leaving it this late, businesses often have a huge amount of data to back up, leading to a bottleneck situation which can mean that backups take a considerable length of time or even, in worst case scenarios, fail altogether.

Furthermore, should firms be hit by a disaster or equipment failure prior to their backup, they may find data recovery is much more complicated, meaning the time it takes for them to get back up and running is increased, costing them money.

It’s very possible that your business is at risk for data loss even if you believe to be backed up. SOS Online Backup’s software platform includes SOS ForeverSave and unlimited versioning for all products. These two features provides full backup and recovery for files and folders. As soon as changes are detected in a file or folder, SOS jumps into action and saves a version of that file. With SOS Timeline Recovery, SOS users can go back to any point in time and restore a version of a file.

If you’d like to learn more about online backup and keeping your business data secure, contact an SOS backup specialist at 877.896.3611.


The Disaster Recovery Plan: Small Business is Real Business Too

November 15, 2011

I’m amazed at how many of my small business clients don’t treat their fledgling companies like a real business.  By that I don’t mean that they should have a matched 401k, pension plan and a company Christmas party.  I simply mean that they don’t realize that some of the needs of big business are exactly the same as their own needs.

When pressed, most tell me that their business doesn’t have the resources to fulfill all of these needs.  That’s when I tell them that they might need to pick and choose, but some needs are universal and have to be addressed for the long-term survivability of the business.

One of the most critical of these is some sort of disaster recovery plan.

“But that’s for big businesses.  I’m just one guy with one laptop and a dinky office.”

I hear that quite a bit, believe me.  See how this scenario plays out for your small business:

I was sitting down talking to Jared about his small business IT needs and he had given me some of the arguments above.  I do business with Jared myself, as I’ve grown to trust him as well as he trusts me.

“Jared, I don’t think I got your invoice from last month and I want to get you a check.  Can you tell me how much I owe you?”  I asked.

“Sure, just let me…”

I interrupted him by pushing the lid of his laptop closed.

“Sorry, your hard drive just crashed.”

Jared looked at me, smiling at my joke.

“No, really, what are you going to do now?”  I asked.

Jared paused for a second, so I pushed him further.

“What else can’t you do, and how long until you would be able to do those things again?”

So I’m asking that question of all small business owners.  “What can’t you do, and how long until you would be able to do it again?”

Maybe “Disaster Recovery Plan” sounds too much like a big business thing.  Let’s just take that first step to getting there, data backup.  A solid backup plan should be just as important as liability insurance, good accounting and customer service to a business.

If you’re like most of the small businesses I work with, something you definitely will be looking for is a plan that doesn’t require you to put on another hat.  You wear enough already.  This is why I push most of my clients toward an online backup solution.  Install, choose what to backup, look at the reports.  It couldn’t be much easier than that.

— The Backup Master


Data Disaster – Julie’s Story : Data Backup Solution

November 14, 2011

Today I have another anecdote about the value of having a backup of important files on home systems.  Julie is the administrative assistant for one of my clients.  She contacted me the other day regarding her home machine, and I agreed to have a look.  After a recent thunderstorm, the machine was not booting at all.  I picked up the machine and upon looking at it was immediately distressed by the sound.  Once power was applied, the hard drive started making the ominous pinball machine sound that tells me the drive had been damaged.

I made some quick efforts to see if there was a chance I could recover files, but quickly determined that it was beyond my abilities.  Not wanting to risk letting the drive damage itself further, I called Julie to let her know the score.  Unfortunately, there was no backup of the drive and it contained a wealth of family pictures that she did not want to lose.  We sent the drive off to a data recovery outfit on the East coast, offering free evaluations of what data they could recover.  I prepared Julie for the possible costs of the recovery process, but she was figuratively over the barrel.  Though we always consider these things having ‘sentimental’ value only, that value is actually higher than we usually think.

We opted for the low-priority option at the data recovery center, which meant that we had to wait several days for word regarding the progress.  When we were finally contacted, the company informed us that they were able to recover a large portion of files from the directories that we specified (mostly pictures and personal files). The cost for recovery was over $500 and Julie didn’t really have any other options.

Needless to say, Julie is in the market for a new computer, as her old one was getting along in years.  We discussed options for preventing this from happening again, and she’s opting for an online backup solution.  We have created a sort of hybrid solution to keep her storage requirements under control as her volume of photos is fairly large.

Julie’s Plan

  1. Archived photos from years past are burned to DVDs and multiple copies are made.   These copies are distributed to family members across the country (something she always wanted to do anyway!)
  2. Current pictures are saved to the photo directory in her computer, which is backed up through the online backup service.
  3. As the photo directory reaches 4GB (around the size of a DVD), they are then burned to DVD and distributed.

Julie is feeling more confident now in the security of her system and is enjoying the comments from happy family members receiving the DVDs.  If disaster strikes again, she can always get copies of her photos from her online backup or from family members across the country.

— The Backup Master


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