Defeating Goliath In The Cloud BDR Arena
By Jay McCall
An MSP’s consultative sales approach helps it unseat a multibillion-dollar competitor to win a cloud BDR (backup and disaster recovery) project worth $8,000 per month.
Some MSPs try to avoid going head to head with giant competitors at all costs. But DSM Technology Consultants (DSM), a 30-employee MSP, feels just the opposite. According to Mike McMillan, VP of technical services at DSM, some of the national IT consultants and service providers have a difficult time adapting to new technologies and business strategies, and that’s where smaller and more nimble service providers like DSM have a distinct competitive advantage.
A recent cloud BDR project with a five-location financial processing company illustrates how the age-old story of David and Goliath is still playing out in the IT service world today.
Take Time To Conduct A Discovery And Assessment
DSM was originally contacted by the financial services company after it conducted a Web search looking for an IT specialist. The company was nearing the end of a three-year contract with its BDR service provider, and it wanted to see if DSM could offer a less expensive backup and recovery service. “Initially, they presented us with a copy of the quote their BDR provider had given them and asked us for a price quote for the same services,” recalls McMillan. “We explained to them that we work collaboratively with our clients and don’t quote prices or make recommendations until we understand their business environment and challenges.”
Although the financial services company was initially skeptical about the process, DSM convinced the prospect to pay $6,000 for a D&A (discovery and analyses). “This process involves a combination of network assessment tools and in-person interviews with stakeholders so we can better understand their IT needs and business challenges,” says McMillan.
To DSM’s surprise, the incumbent service provider, a multibillion-dollar national service provider, was using what McMillan describes as a 1990s recovery solution. “They performed nightly backups to tape media, and the client was required to mail its backups to an off-site DR [disaster recovery] location, and ultimately recover to dissimilar hardware,” says McMillan. “In the event of an emergency, the customer would install the appropriate operating system and restore to the hardware. Often, there were issues with firmware and drivers that would extend testing times, and in many cases the customer wasn’t able to recover all of its data.”
In addition to not using modern technologies such as cloud computing, disk-to-disk backups, and virtualization, the legacy backup required nearly a week of manual labor to ensure it would work in the event of a disaster. “The financial services company was spending approximately $20,000 a month for this solution, which required them to fly technicians to its service provider’s off-site data center to ensure the software drivers, firmware, and other configurations worked properly. While there, the engineers performed recovery tests to validate their backup media,” says McMillan. “With tape backup this process requires an engineer to load the tapes to the backup server, which takes several hours, and then if the restore process fails, the technician has to troubleshoot the problem and try again.”
Making matters worse was the fact that although the financial services company was paying tens of thousands of dollars each month for the BDR service, it would have taken days to recover its files in the event of an actual disaster. “After digging into their business processes a little further, we also discovered that their vendor was oversubscribing its BDR resources,” says McMillan. “The bottom line was that if multiple customers needed to use the service provider’s data center resources at the same time, there was a good chance that some resources would not be available.”
DSM showed how its private cloud data center and Unitrends disk-to-disk BDR solution, which supports local and cloud virtualization, could solve the financial services company’s RTO (recovery time objective) and RPO (recovery point objective) needs at a fraction of the company’s current BDR spend.
Although the proposal seemed like an easy choice, the prospect was worried that this deal seemed too good to be true.
DSM uses a virtual disaster recovery methodology that enables local data recovery times of 15 minutes and recovery from a disaster in less than 24 hours
Why Cloud BDR Doesn’t Have To Be A Leap Of Faith
DSM overcame the prospect’s objection by offering to set up a pilot test and giving the prospect an opportunity to try its cloud BDR before making a purchasing decision. “We set up two Unitrends 833 appliances at their facility and worked with their DBA to mirror their SQL database to our private cloud data center every 15 minutes,” says McMillan. “Other files and applications were backed up at different time intervals based upon the company’s RTO and RPO needs and replicated to one of DSM’s out-of-state DR sites.” Leveraging DSM’s virtual disaster recovery (VDR) methodology, the financial services company was able to spin up a live server in DSM’s data center and confirm that everything was working properly. “We showed them how our VMware-based VDR capabilities enabled them to spin up a local server in as few as 15 minutes, and they could recover from a disaster in less than 24 hours. Their previous vendor could not guarantee better than a 72-hour recovery time.”
After signing the contract, the financial services company originally identified 12 TB of data it needed to back up. After seeing how much easier and more effective it was to manage DSM’s solution, the client added eight additional TB of data to the backup for a total of 20 TB.
The business benefits of the new backup solution were immediate and dramatic. “The client no longer needed to send engineers off-site to test and validate its data recoverability, which saved thousands of dollars per test,” says McMillan. “With a portion of its savings, the company added additional cloud and managed services including Disaster Recoveryas- a-Service (DRaaS). The total solution generated approximately $16,000 in design and implementation revenue plus $8,000 per month in monthly recurring revenue.” After the test, the customer was elated that it could focus more time on testing the applications rather than building and restoring systems.
In 2013, DSM boosted its revenue 40 percent over the previous year, and this year it’s on track to achieve 100 percent revenue growth over 2013. Needless to say, hitting this mark may require unseating a few more giants, but DSM is once again ready for the challenge.