The purpose of my post today is not to get into a technology comparison but rather to encourage MSPs to consider a few things when evaluating software platforms and/or fully hosted offerings for cloud data protection service delivery to their clients.
First, cut through the vendor marketing hype and ask some really hard questions around the key client concern related to cloud delivered services; security. Security involves a lot more than embedded AES 256 encryption technology. It’s also about restricting and controlling access to client data both internally and externally. Are there audit and access logging capabilities in place? Is the platform truly multi-tenant; this is a big one where most currently lose points? How many ports are being opened and used by server agents and how often are they doing this? Can assured data recoverability be realized through automated data integrity validation features and functions or does it all have to be checked manually?
Second, if you are going into cloud data protection services, think big, or bigger than the current operating radius of your service vehicles so that you can achieve scalability and cost efficiencies from your training and technology investments. Why not? There’s nothing stopping you from servicing clients across the continent, we do it all the time. While your thinking big, think about process, procedure and service delivery automation as you grow. How is a particular software platform, or hosted service going to stand up to dozens/hundreds of clients and data sizes larger than 1TB? Automation really starts to make sense here by enabling you to keep a lid on HR costs.
Third, survey after survey shows that RTO, while important, is not the leading SME/SMB concern despite what vendor marketing repeatedly shouts from the rooftops. From our perspective, security and assurance is the sales barrier to overcome and is best assuaged by sound risk mitigation strategies coupled with the ability to demonstrate absolute recoverability of a client’s electronic information assets. You can’t have this conversation as long as you continue to lead with terminology such price per GB or repeatedly drop technical references into your messaging. Client data is an electronic asset, it may even be trademarked or patented intellectual property. When the implications of losing it completely and no longer being able to derive revenue and value from this business asset start entering into the client conversation, it typically becomes a much more valuable client exchange.
Lastly, is the platform or service you are considering going to help you build tangible equity in your business through the realization of growing and predictable recurring revenue based on a stable and loyal base of clients? Who is going to benefit from the improved compression and de-duplication ratios that will be realized as you increase your client base and data vault size? If the data vault is under your care, custody and control, your two thumbs should be pointed directly at your chest as you proudly utter the words “This Guy!!!” This is going to lower your operating costs dramatically while you earn monthly revenue on every bit of data you protect. Now, when you decide to hang it up and sell your business, you have growing and predictable forward cash flows and retained equity that will yield you an attractive multiple on your EBIDTA.