How to increase revenues using just cloud backup
For those of you looking for ways to improve service, increase revenues and have a, generally, happier customer (oh, wait – that’s all of you!), I wanted to discuss how a service provider might use cloud backup as a way to not just initially add on a service (and, therefore, a revenue stream), but actually continue to grow that part of their business – all within the context of a single customer using only cloud backup.
A customer new to cloud backup will be thinking in terms of cost/GB of storage. By the end of this article, you’ll see that, if you do it right, you get them to start thinking in terms of cost/user, which will bring you more revenue.
It starts with a better backup
MAXfocus did a survey in 2013 and found 41% of companies are using disk to backup, 33% to cloud only and 18% to tape. That makes up a majority of your customers. In each of those solutions, there are inherent problems. Disk alone provide no redundancy should the backup itself be bad. Tape is slow an unreliable. And cloud by itself is no good without an Internet connection.
This is where you offer Hybrid Cloud Backup as a better solution. Hybrid Cloud offers the speed of on-premise storage, but synchronizes that data with cloud-based backups. You gain redundancy of backups, availability of data, reliability of recovery, and speed of restores. You also give your customer a less expensive solution whose costs only grow as the business needs do.
So, let’s say you get the customer to switch to hybrid cloud backups. You’re probably backing up servers that are the infrastructure of the business – Active Directory, Exchange, database servers, etc. What’s next?
Enter in Recovery
Managing backups isn’t going to make you rich. But building out a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) business will put you on the path. Doing so takes your clients from restores to recovery. It not only elevates the maturity of your offering, but also elevates the services. Since you’re not just responsible for restoring data but the recovery of services, you need to add a few features to your normal offering (which, in turn, increases your revenues). These include:
- Recovery Testing – You can provide monthly, quarterly and annual recovery testing of critical systems to ensure backups, and your recovery process, are foolproof.
- Increased Support – You may, for example, offer 8 x 5 support to your customer. With a DRaaS option, you may choose to increase that to, say, 24 x 7.
- Off-Site Recovery – Customers thinking about true disaster recovery may be open to wanting a plan in place to recover should their primary business location no longer be viable.
- Bare Metal Restores – recovering servers (and possibly some really important workstations) from nothing but the box may be an option to add on as well.
- Virtualized Recovery – Like the off-site recovery, you may consider offering a recovery directly to a virtualized environment, allowing the customer to recover from a complete disaster more quickly.
Each of these offerings has a different impact on increasing your services and recurring revenues, but it’s clear they will help increase them.
Then Include Everything
Now that you have the customer thinking in terms of recovering the business and you have every server backed up and ready to be recovered to a cold site or to a virtual environment, the last question to ask is “When we get all these servers up and running again, who’s going to connect to them?”
In a disaster where you need to recover to a cold site or VM, you probably aren’t at the original business location. That means no workstations. So how are you going to get the business running if no employees can connect to those pristinely recovered servers? You’re obviously not.
Workstations are the last frontier – and it’s not just an OS and apps; there’s quite a bit you need to recover to truly get a user back up and productive. And adding those into the picture equates to many more GBs of storage required.
Revenue Nirvana: Cost/User
OK, so now you have a customer that’s backing up darn near everything. That means their thinking about recovery has matured to an extremely high state. So it’s time to talk about moving from a cost/GB model to a cost/user model of billing.
Instead of calculating the GBs used per person, you can look at the environment (servers and workstations) and determine what each user is “responsible” for (that is, add up all the GBs and divide by the number of users). So when the business grows and an employee starts, you simply add on the $49.95 or whatever you’d charge and, regardless of the storage used, you begin charging that.
Keep in mind that I’m assuming you’ve done the math to figure out how much to charge to stay ahead of the cost/GB game so you’re clearly making profit.
Cloud Backup: It’s Nothing But Clear Skies
The path to increasing your revenues is pretty-well laid out – switch to cloud backups, setup a DRaaS offering, include workstations and move the user to cost/user.
The next step is for you to figure out where you are with each of your customers and plug them into this model, and you’ll be on your way to seeing not only more revenue, but a happier customer.