MSPs : Are you Keeping Up With IT Departments? : Best Opportunity for MSP to earn high revenue in 2012

December 28, 2011

IT departments are preparing to make massive investments in backup and recovery solutions in the next two years. According to a recent IDC survey, backup will jump from being a 1.6% chunk of IT budgets, to a whopping 3% piece of the pie. Though those sound like small numbers, they are numbers that are doubling between 2011 and 2014.

As an MSP, are you ready to take advantage of this?

Firms that are early adopters often have internal IT departments. If your role as a managed service provider is to work with these types of clients (or you want to obtain these kinds of clients) you may find yourself constantly trying to catch up with rapidly changing trends in backup technology.

If you aren’t already doing so, part of your offering as a managed service provider should be cloud backup for servers. Businesses, large and small, ought to have a backup and recovery plan for constantly changing Exchange servers,SQL servers, Windows servers, and SharePoint servers. As an MSP, you have a unique opportunity to provide this plan, and consistently increase its value by updating it.

If you want to learn more about providing value to your clients, and increasing your recurring revenue as a managed service provider, drop us a line. SOS Partner Specialists are always happy to help you get started.


Cloud Backup for Holiday Fun : Data Backup Options

December 27, 2011

The holidays are approaching quickly and I’m seeing the usual trends.  My work with residential clients is winding down for the year while my corporate clients are keeping me hopping with spending the last of the year’s budgets before the rapidly approaching deadline.  The funny thing is the fact that my corporate clients are generally on a pretty solid technology base, having had consistent IT support throughout the year, while the residential clients are actually the ones adding new technology without the thought of the infrastructure required to sustain it.

Infrastructure

Normally infrastructure is a word that people associate with corporate networks and information technology.  Infrastructure is the backbone of the network, the ‘back end’, encompassing the equipment, systems and processes that help keep the actual ‘front end’ equipment running smoothly.  What’s the difference?

Front-End

We all know the front-end equipment.  It’s what we use and what we play with at home.  iTunes, game software, printers and the sweet machine we’ve built to play the most modern and immersive games.  All of these devices have to be supported by the back-end.

Back-End

How does that multiplayer online game work?  From your PC, the data travels to a switch (if you have multiple devices) then to a router before flitting off to the Internet.  If any of those devices fail or are underpowered, the front-end experience suffers.

Let’s discuss some of the back-end equipment and systems I think every home user should be thinking about this holiday season.

Storage

How much storage space do you have?  These are your hard drives, where actual data is stored.  Data can be anything from the mass of songs purchased through the online music service to the photos and videos from your family event.

Ask these questions:

1. Do I have enough storage space?  Do I need to add an external hard drive for storage?

2. What happens if any of these devices fail?  Can I recover the data?

Backup

We gather data because we want to keep it.  Sounds like a simple concept.  We take pictures because we want to look at them later just as we download songs because we want to listen to them down the road.  The storage systems we use today in modern computing are prone to failure, so we have to have a system in place for that eventuality.

Ask these questions:

1. What am I willing to lose?

2. For the items not falling into question 1, how are you protecting them?

Keep Thinking

If you’ve read any of my articles in the past, you probably know that I’m going to give you a lecture about backing up your data.  You’re certainly in the right on that point, but I’m going to also give you some insight about where I’m coming from.  As a computer consultant with more years under my belt than I usually like to admit, I’ve found that the most effective thing I can do to as a business is to keep my customers happy.  Customers are always happy when I can provide the newest technology, bells and whistles.  It all falls down though if the fancy accounting system I installed crashes and all of their financial data is lost.  Recommending good backup strategies help me keep customers, both residential and corporate.  The biggest addition they bring to my bottom line is helping me keep that customer after disaster eventually hits.  I hate to tell a customer that they’ve lost data and I’ve had to do just that far more often than I like.

Think about your back-end at home.  You love the front-end toys and gizmos, so keep up the care and feeding of the systems that make them work.

— The Backup Master


SOS Online Backup and SOS ServerSave Featured in InfoStor : Bare Metal Backup

December 20, 2011

InfoStor’s Kenneth Corbin recently released his interview with SOS CEO, Ken Shaw, on the topic of the future of SOS Online Backup and new capabilities of SOS ServerSave. SOS ServerSave brings SOS partners and clients the opportunity to create more efficient businesses and IT departments by creating a complete server backup solution. SOS ServerSave is a complete solution for IT managers – including cloud backup for servers and complete end-point protection for workstations and laptop fleets.

Kenneth Corbin from InfoStor and Ken Shaw from SOS chatted about the flexibility and opportunity SOS ServerSave brings to the server backup marketplace.

However, increasingly the company is moving into the business space, particularly with ServerSave, its solution for the workplace that safeguards content from an organization’s litany of servers and PCs.

“Our aim for SOS ServerSave was to backup all servers and workstations — SQL, Exchange, Windows, fileservers, full local machines — and provide an end-point solution for workstations and laptops,” said Ken Shaw, CEO of SOS Online Backup. “With all these components, SOS ServerSave’s ultimate goal for the IT manager is to eliminate the pain of managing these different pieces from different portals.”

According to Shaw, the market for server backup technology in the public cloud is headed for a “price-functionality inflection point,” one that will dramatically reshape the value proposition of the market.

“Server backup is going to start doing more for less money, and SOS ServerSave is poised to be the first to spearhead this trend,” he said.

The company’s ServerSave product offers bare-metal backup and restore of Windows, SQL, SharePoint and Exchange servers with management consolidated in a single portal, dubbed Pulse Centralized Management, and an unlimited headcount for a single account.

Click here to view the full article. If you’d like to learn more about SOS ServerSave, click here to view one of our recent SOS ServerSave webinars.


Testing the Waters as a Managed Service Provider : Backup Reseller Program Review

December 16, 2011

The year is just about to wrap up.  Is your reseller business where you want it to be?

If you didn’t make the leap this year to providing managed services for your customers, let’s start laying the groundwork to get you there in 2012.  First off, a quick list of benefits to convince you.

  • Recurring revenue stream from services you may be outsourcing to vendors
  • Increased interaction with clients
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Aren’t those enough?  These are the top three benefits I’ve seen since starting to provide managed services to my clients.  I’ll address each one talking about the first managed service I provided to my customers; online backup service.

Recurring Revenue Stream

In the past I recommended and implemented tape backup strategies, then removable hard drive strategies like the Dell RD1000 drives to my customers.  I made very little margin on the sales of the media and the upkeep of software such as Symantec’s flagship Backup Exec.

As an online backup reseller, I am now seeing consistent monthly recurring revenue from these customers.  Instead of the small margins on the sale of hardware and software maintenance contracts, I’m generating revenue from providing the actual service.  While the cost to my customers is lower, my margins have increased dramatically.

Increased Interaction with Clients

I can’t emphasize this one enough.  As I regularly communicate the status of my clients’ backups, I’m keeping in touch with the client on a much more regular basis than in the past.  Some of these conversations go off on a tangent and generate either a service call for an unrelated issue or a sale of a new piece of equipment.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Since implementing online backup services with customers, their satisfaction has increased for at least two reasons they have communicated.  First, they are happy that the offsite-rotation of their backups has been taken out of their hands, lowering their administrative overhead.  Second, they are pleased with the added benefits of using an online backup service, namely their ability to easily restore files from anywhere in the world using the web interface.  Several clients have called me from the road asking me how to restore their presentation, since they either forgot to bring it on their trip or they want to present an earlier version of the file.

If you’ve been thinking about adding MSP services to your arsenal as a consultant, there is no easier way to get your feet wet then to add online backup services.  Take the time to get your client software fully branded, so your customers are also comforted by your trusted name on the product.  You can’t underestimate the value of that.

— The Backup Master


Citigroup fined $750,000 for failing to retain emails : Don’t lose your Business Email Database

December 14, 2011

In some firms, data backup (or backup redundancy) is not viewed as a necessity. However, government regulations may disagree. In the case of Citigroup, a business unit failed to retain millions of emails during an email archival system upgrade.  Email retention is a requirement by securities industry rules. Citigroup is now paying out $750,000 in fines to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The problem at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. occurred during an upgrade of its email archiving system between October, 2008 and late December, 2009, the settlement, dated Dec. 2, said.

Citigroup’s lapse “potentially impacted the Firm’s ability to respond to email requests in FINRA investigations and other matters,” the settlement said.

Citigroup neither admitted nor denied FINRA’s findings.

FINRA noted in the settlement that Citigroup self-reported the problem to the Wall Street watchdog. Industry rules require brokerages to capture and save electronic communications for three years.

“Citi takes matters of email retention very seriously,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “We self-reported this issue to FINRA, conducted a thorough investigation and adopted enhancements to our systems and procedures. We are pleased to have settled this matter,” she said.

When considering cloud backup solutions for your business, keep in mind that the most common form of business data lost is customer data, and most data loss is unintentional – as in the case of Citigroup. Click here to learn more about business cloud backup options.


Do you have IT budget left over from 2011? Invest in Business Data Protection & Security

December 13, 2011

As a business owner, I see the fourth quarter of 2011 wrapping up and I know my corporate customers are doing the same.  I can tell because I’m getting the calls from IT administrators and office managers letting me know that they have unspent budget left for their IT services.  After tooting my own horn with them about how they must have extra money remaining due to my efficient management of their networks, we settle down to discuss where the surplus can go.

Generally, if they are pretty stable when it comes to hardware, I start to talk about services.  Are there any services they can renew or extend with their extra funds?

If you’re a business owner, here are some services you can probably extend with this year’s remaining budget, freeing up a little more of next year’s budget to buy that new piece of hardware your company desperately needs.

Antivirus/Antispyware

You may be paying annual subscriptions for updates and new versions of software.  Talk to your IT provider about extending those service contracts now.  In most cases, you will not only spend this year’s remaining budget to cover service for the next year or two, but actually save money in the long term due to multi-year discounts.

Backup / Online Backup Service

The need for backup will never go away, so these are items that you can safely ramp up and pay in advance.  Why pay month-to-month when annual contracts are usually cheaper in the long run?  Now is your opportunity to either purchase additional media (tapes/drives) if you are on a traditional backup plan or to switch over to an annual plan for your online backup.

While you’re at it, it you are on a traditional backup plan (meaning you backup to tape or other local media), discuss the options of moving this service to the cloud.  You won’t have to purchase additional media and your backups will be more reliable in the long run.  Your vendor will be able to show you how you can save money by having reliable offsite backup without the need for additional hardware or expensive software.

Equipment Service Contracts

Your IT person supports your infrastructure like your routers and switches, but you need to keep the service contracts with the manufacturers current.  If there is a Cisco router having an issue in your network, I can usually fix it significantly faster if I can call Cisco for assistance.  If there’s a hardware failure, they won’t even talk to me if there isn’t a maintenance contract in place.

Ask your IT provider if you can add another year to your service contract for devices that you don’t plan to replace in 2012.

Congratulations on having budget left over at the end of the year.  If only Congress could do the same!

 — The Backup Master


New prices available today at SOSOnlineBackup.com : Cloud Backup Pricing Plan for Home & Business

December 13, 2011

We’re excited to announce that we’ve added new prices for business cloud backup and home cloud backup!

Available today, purchase 175 GB of business cloud backup for $299.99  – for unlimited PCs. The possibilities are endless when you’re backing up unlimited PCs. Backup an unlimited number of fileservers, an entire laptop fleet, or PCs in multiple offices with one account. If you happen to backup more than your 175 GB, you can always chat with a SOS representative and upgrade your account.

Click  here to learn more about SOS for Business features, such as HIPAA and SSAE 16 compliance.

We have a new home backup account size as well – backup 150 GB on 5 PCs for $199! Backup your home photos, vacation videos, important tax documents, and anything else you want to keep safe off site.

All SOS Online Backup accounts are protected with military-grade, three-tiered encryption – first locally, then in transit, and “at rest” in the data center. All accounts are also equipped with mobile management. Access and share your documents anywhere, any time!


Keeping the Memories Alive and Backed Up : Data Disaster Recovery Plan

December 10, 2011

My wife’s grandmother is the keeper of the family history.  Every family has one.  She and my wife have been spending a day a week scanning ancient photo albums, tagging ancestors with names before they are forgotten to the annals of time.  Much to my surprise, before I could even broach the subject, she asked me about the best way to preserve and backup this growing warehouse of data.

Being busy with holidays and end of year consulting with my clients, I hadn’t had time to discuss it with them.  Sometimes we forget that customers are a lot closer to home than we realize.

Her initial thought was typical.  If she could get an external hard drive and make a copy of the data, it would be protected in case something happened to her computer.  I’ve worked with enough residential customers to know one thing.  If the backup plan requires daily or even weekly intervention on behalf of the user, it typically doesn’t get done.

I talked to her about the goal of a solid backup.  The number one goal we can all agree with is the survival of the important data in case of a disaster.  They key people forget is that we should be talking about the survival of the data in case of ANY disaster.  That threw her for a loop at first.  If the computer crashes, the backup will still be there.  Then the discussion turned dark.  My fault, but that’s my job as a consultant.

The ‘What if?’ Factor

What if the house burns down?

What if there’s a flood?

What if a tornado scatters everything to the four winds?

That’s when the subject of offsite backup comes up.  To reach the goal of a solid backup, the data has to be able to survive more than just a computer crash.  Backing up to the cloud with an online backup system ensures this.  By storing your data in an offsite location, usually geographically distant, you are extending the zone of safety around your information.

We eventually set her machine up with an online backup service and now her data is safely stored hundreds of miles from its source.  After the initial backup completed, the only data being transferred each week are the new photos they’ve scanned and any changes to the tags they made that week.  It is simple and painless and hasn’t affected their lives at all, other than the peace of mind that their hard work will do its job; keeping those memories alive forever.

— The Backup Master


The Value in Automating your Online Backup : Continuous Data Protection

December 6, 2011

A customer shared a story with me about his online backup and I thought I would share it with my readers.  I thought it was a unique use of online backup technology as the user was creating additional value to his already valuable backup service.

Troy and his wife Mary have three children and are involved in more activities than even I am, and I run my own consulting business.  From coaching soccer to visiting dance and music recitals, Troy and Mary tend to take a lot of pictures.  Through coaching of my own, the couple protects all of these pictures through online backup software.  Once the pictures are transferred from the cameras and the phones, they are immediately backed up securely and safely online.

Here’s where Troy has added value to his account.  Troy’s extended family lives pretty much all over the states, with some spread out overseas.  In the past, he had been using an online photo sharing website to share the pictures with his family, but making the time to upload the pictures and organize them was becoming too time-consuming.  He had been busy one week and hadn’t updated the shared photos for a while when his sister called and asked him.  She said she knew he was busy, but everyone enjoyed the pictures and she would help him keep it updated if she could.

After a little bit of though, Troy walked his out of state sister through logging into his online backup account on the web.  He showed her the directory structure, where the new photos were stored and how to ‘restore’ or download them to her machine.

As of now, some of the family still views the photos on the sharing website, while others simply download them from the online backup account.  Within hours of Troy transferring the photos to his computer, the family can log in and make yet another backup, to their own home machines for their own enjoyment.  No additional work for Troy, but a great deal of additional benefit for his extended family.

What are some creative ways you are using online backup?  The automated features of online backup services and the quick web-based restores have a wide range of creative possibilities beyond just the concept of insurance for your important data.  Think of your backup as a sort of automated online storage vault you can access from anywhere.  It’s backup and so much more.

— The Backup Master


77% of Businesses Lost Data in 2010 – How to Prevent Data Loss?

December 4, 2011

That’s a big number.

As a customer of some businesses and an owner of a business, it may give you a great shock to find out that 52% of this information was customer information. As employees start using multiple devices that are not monitored by the company’s IT department for work (iPhones, iPads, Androids), this data is exposed to harm more often than ever before.

Customer information was the most common type of data to be compromised in UK businesses

Three-quarters (75%) of UK organisations experienced data loss in 2010, a little lower than the global average of 77%, according to a survey conducted by Check Point and Ponemon Institute.

The survey ‘Understanding Security Complexity in 21st Century IT Environments’ revealed that customer information was the most common type of data to be compromised in UK businesses at 52%. Intellectual property (36%), employee information (36%) and consumer information (35%) were the other top stolen data.

In addition, with the adoption of Web 2.0 apps and more mobile devices connecting to the network, organisations are challenged with enforcing better data security and IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) requirements.

450 IT managers were surveyed. The majority of them believed that their employees had little understanding of data security, but they had been unable to control automatic backups for their employees.

According to the survey of approximately 450 IT security administrators in the UK, the primary cause for data loss was from lost or stolen equipment, cited by 35% of the UK respondents.

Network attacks accounted for a quarter, followed by Web 2.0 and file-sharing applications (22%), and unencrypted USB or media storage devices (19%).

The survey showed that more than half (53%) of UK respondents believe their employees have little or no awareness about data security, compliance and policies, with only 19% reporting high awareness of these issues – the third lowest of the five countries surveyed (UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia).

Check Point Software Technologies network security products vice-president Oded Gonda said data security and compliance are often at the top of the CISO’s list.

“However, if you look at the drivers for data loss, the majority of incidents are unintentional,” Gonda said.

“In order to move data loss from detection to prevention, businesses should consider integrating more user awareness and establish the appropriate processes to gain more visibility and control of information assets.”

Read the entire article at CBR Online.

Business data does not need to be this vulnerable. Cloud backup is secure and cost efficient and can be set up to run automatically and continuously.  Don’t let laptop fleets, workstations, and mobile devices remain vulnerable. Get a competitive advantage and institute a complete, encrypted cloud backup program.


%d bloggers like this: