Rewind the clock 15 years or so, back in a day where MSPs barely existed and you’d find yourself talking about backups and restores with your customers. Backup capacities, mediums and speeds prohibited even the thought of an easy full recovery of a server, its services and data. Today, it’s obviously much different. The stakes are higher for businesses to remain operational with a higher reliance on their IT infrastructure, and the conversation has matured from restore to recovery.
But is there a difference?
You may already provide your SMB customers management of their backups and, therefore, restores of their data and systems, so you may think you have this covered.
If you think like this, you may be missing an opportunity to increase the breadth of your service offerings, position yourself as more of an outsourced CIO over just a service provider, and increase both ongoing revenue streams and recurring fees… all by just changing a single word in your vocabulary.
You see, there is a difference between restores and recovery – and it’s all in the customer’s head. If they think they just need to be able to restore their data, they will invest in the corresponding hardware and services (which limits your business). But if they are thinking about recovery, they will change behavior accordingly, both in the infrastructure and services needed.
Why? Because, simply put, customers gain comfort in an ability to restore, whereas they see value in an ability to recover. Talking about recovery with a customer means you’re thinking in terms of the customer remaining operational as much as possible, which translates to revenue for them (and you, as you’ll see). And, remember, value to the customer equates to an ability to provide billable services.
But, just as the customer plays a role in helping establish the difference between restore and recovery, there’s a role you play as well. Your services need to be concerned more about recovering entire systems and applications (some of which may be multi-tiered, have service dependencies, and require specific boot-up timings). That’s a pretty big jump from just restoring a data set. It also establishes your desire to take on a more significant role in maintaining continuity for your customers.
When you hit the customer’s hot button of remaining operational, you now have them by the collar, paying attention to your every word. Recovery from any disaster (from as small as a corrupt database to as large as a chemical spill that shuts down the building) now becomes part of your promise to keep things running for that customer.
DR planning and testing are the first opportunities for billable services that also benefit the customer greatly, but the planning is a (largely) one-time exercise and testing occurs infrequently. You need recurring revenue.
How, then, do you create a recurring revenue stream and truly offer DRaaS?
Cloud-based backup and recovery makes a huge difference - it gives you the ability to recover data and systems in an “anytime, anywhere, any system” fashion. You are no longer tied to on-site solutions, or even specific hot/cold site solutions. Your customer now has the confidence that you can provide as detailed a recovery as a bare metal restore of a virtual or physical machine to anywhere in the world, and you get the benefit of the recurring revenue stream by providing the cloud-based backups. The mechanics of the backups, space needed, redundancy, etc. no longer need be your concern, making the providing of this service efficient and easy as well.
If you’re customer is still running traditional physical machines, restores of data, files, and system states can certainly get entire machines recovered. But recovery isn’t just about the ability to get it all back; it’s also about getting it all back quickly. Thinking about virtual recovery (even if the source machine is a physical server) and with the cloud in the mix, you can begin offering services like Virtual Disaster Recovery, or even Continuous Recovery. And eve if the cloud isn’t part of the answer for your customer, local standby images can also provide fast recovery.
It’s a win-win situation.
There is a difference between restore and recovery. So introduce recovery into your vocabulary and see your service offering – and your wallet - expand.