An MSP earns a 1 TB Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud backup project with PlanetShoes.com and beats out a competitor twice its size — without cutting its price.
Datasmith Networks is an eight-employee company that’s been in the IT network infrastructure sales and services business for more than two decades. Presently, Datasmith Networks specializes in teaching clients how to migrate their IT infrastructures to the cloud. Even though the $2 million channel company often runs up against much larger competitors, it knows how to leverage its vendor and value-added distributor partnerships to level the business playing field.
One example that highlights Datasmith Networks’ sales acumen was a project it won recently with PlanetShoes.com, a major etailer that does between 600 and 800 shoe orders per day and operates six websites that receive 30,000 unique visitors a day. Scott LaPointe, director of IT at PlanetShoes.com, recalls the state of his IT network prior to meeting with Datasmith Networks. “A couple of years ago, we had lost our network admin, and instead of hiring a replacement, we outsourced our IT to a large SQL database administrator [DBA] firm,” says LaPointe. “The firm never made me feel like I was one of their customers. Anytime I had an IT issue, such as an email server going down, I had to hound them to get it fixed. Plus, they never gave us any direction or advice regarding how we could improve and better protect our IT network.”
LaPointe first met with Paul Smith, a partner at Datasmith Networks, when PlanetShoes.com was within three months away from its contract end date with the SQL DBA firm. During Smith’s initial presentation, LaPointe was impressed with his consultative approach. “He gave me confidence that his company would take ownership of our IT problems,” says LaPointe. “He also talked about the importance of doing a network assessment, finding out where we were currently, and developing a road map for where we wanted to go with our network.”
At the second meeting, Datasmith Networks ran a network assessment and uncovered several potential issues, including low memory on the e-tailer’s VM (virtual machine) clusters, and servers that were approaching the end of their life cycle. Additionally, even though PlanetShoes. com was performing SAN (storage area network) to SAN local data replication, it did not have a true BDR (backup and disaster recovery) solution in place. “Their assessment was right on the money,” says LaPointe. “I had been spending a lot of time each week moving virtual machines from server to server to try and free up space, and I often had to reboot the aging servers.”
Smith’s consultative approach was what won PlanetShoes.com over despite the fact he was up against a competitor that was twice the size of his company. Not only did Smith land the project, he never had to cut his price to win the business. Smith presented LaPointe with multiple options for solving his IT challenges, ranging from buying new hardware to moving everything to the cloud via AWS.
Be Prepared For Your Customer’s Cloud Objections
Smith shared some statistics about AWS, such as the fact that one-third of the world’s Web traffic runs on AWS, and he finished his presentation by adding that his company was backed by value-added distributor Ingram Micro and NOC services vendor NetEnrich. “Partnering with Ingram and NetEnrich for my NOC services means that I don’t have to spend $30,000 a year for an in-house RMM solution, plus I don’t need to hire the engineering resources it takes to operate it,” says Smith. “I also have access to level-3 and level-4 engineers that I can rely on to solve issues. Without this distributor partnership, this wouldn’t be an option for me.”
As someone who was a software programmer at heart and didn’t want to be in the business of managing hardware, LaPointe was open to the idea of moving his IT infrastructure to the cloud. He was also open about his biggest fear, which was potential hiccups that might occur during the transition. “Two years ago, we had an outside programmer working on a project that led to a SQL injection script that took our site down for two days,” recalls LaPointe. “In the type of business we’re in, business loss can exceed $90,000 each day the website is down.”
Smith once again had the solution to LaPointe’s concern. Since the e-tailer operated six websites, which includes three e-commerce sites and three catalog sites that point to the e-commerce sites, Datasmith Networks recommended a phased approach to the project. This would allow the client to start with its smallest websites, work out any potential snags, and then progress to its larger ones.
Shortly after Datasmith Networks ended up winning PlanetShoes.com’s trust, it started migrating the e-tailer’s Web, email, and other business servers to the cloud, which included 1 TB of data. Smith likes the fact that even though his customer operates a 24/7/365 business, he doesn’t need to worry about monitoring his client’s servers and being on call during all those times. “Our NOC partner provides all the support we need, including remote monitoring, patch management, and off-site data backups,” says Smith. “Partners can even pay to have NetEnrich handle full remediation for any end-customer IT problems, but that’s one area we prefer to handle ourselves because it helps us build closer relationships with our customers.”
Through Datasmith Networks’ business networking, it comes into contact with other VARs, MSPs, and cloud consultants, some of which have their own $1 million NOCs. “I always have to laugh to myself when I think that I never spent a dime on my NOC, and I can provide as good or better service than they can,” quips Smith. “And, when it comes to selling AWS, if we worked directly with them, we would most likely not get the help we need — or at least not in a timely fashion. Working with our distributor partner allows smaller resellers like us to have a voice with Amazon, and it provides us with the education and resources we need to be successful.”