From The Expert Feature Article
May 12, 2015

MSPs Have to Sell More Than Their Services to Promote DRaaS

By TMCnet Special Guest
Scott Youngs, CIO of Key Information Systems

The ongoing shift to managed IT services has resulted in the increased availability of services that businesses previously considered beyond their grasp. Whether it’s an application a business couldn’t afford to replicate to a separate site or greater storage access through the cloud, outsourcing certain tasks to managed service providers (MSPs) has made critical, complex IT services affordable for every organization. That’s one reason why more MSPs now see disaster recover as a service (DRaaS) as a growth opportunity. However, maximizing that opportunity will take more than just a great service.

Businesses have long seen disaster recovery (DR) as one of the most necessary IT projects – but also as one farthest from their reach. Replicating an entire IT ecosystem to pick up quickly in the face of a disaster, no matter its cause, was a large, incredibly expensive undertaking. The time, personnel and investment required to build out a secondary site was so unrealistic for most companies that they reluctantly took on the risk of inadequate or non-existent DR instead. The rise of DRaaS changes all of that, and MSPs are now poised to deliver affordable disaster recovery and business continuity (BC) to customers who are hungry to get it. Before that happens, though, service providers will have to dispel a couple of pervasive industry myths about DRaaS. 

Addressing the myths of DRaaS

MSPs are uniquely positioned to help companies take advantage of DRaaS. They have the experience, knowledge and understanding about how companies across multiple industries run. They also know the most pervasive misunderstandings those companies hold about traditional backup and recovery plans, and what it will take to show them the right path to business continuity.

Service providers have heard it all. “Our environment is too much for an MSP to manage,” they say, or, “A partner couldn’t understand our business the way that we do.” Service providers need to address these worries upfront, as IT decision-makers believe these are both insurmountable issues. Neither concern is steeped in fact, but MSPs need to get them out of the way to remove them as potential barriers. Among the great benefits of working with a channel partner for any IT task is the access to external experts that can help develop and implement new strategies. MSPs that offer DRaaS have likely handled dozens, if not hundreds of deployments for many companies. Their experience is precisely the kind of asset that will convince IT managers to hand over the keys to their castles and reap the benefits – finally – of comprehensive, affordable DR.

DRaaS providers must also help companies understand that, despite common belief, disaster recovery is not just an IT function. Businesses that go down can lose millions of dollars and days’ or weeks’ worth of productivity, shaking the internal fabric of their companies – and not just when major disasters strike. A simple server failure can wreak havoc on end users. Obviously, IT is a major component of responding to those situations, but there’s so much involved in a company’s operations that business continuity plans have to include other departments and functions to ensure the organization can instantly failover without missing a beat. That includes constant education, testing and processes that guarantee continuity no matter what happens. MSPs are well-equipped to manage this process from start to finish, which is why they are trusted resources for companies looking to protect their entire organizations.

As DRaaS adoption rises, IT teams will see that keeping DR processes in-house can lead to corner cutting due to the sheer amount of work necessary to develop a plan and back up an entire corporate network. That realization will come more quickly if MSPs take steps to dispel marketplace myths about disaster recovery and business continuity projects.

What businesses want in a DRaaS partner

Once these DRaaS myths are addressed, MSPs must illustrate to businesses what data they need to protect and how to do it well. A provider that has experience working with similar organizations understands everything required for a customer’s complete business continuity, from the variety of bandwidth levels needed for certain applications and tasks to the latency expectations in various industries and more. That level of understanding is critical for an IT team considering outsourcing DR.

In addition, companies seeking true enterprise-grade DR and BC need a data center that can deliver five-nines reliability and availability at all times. For these customers, MSPs will need to meet stringent service level agreements (SLAs). Carrier-grade data centers are at the heart of a truly strong DRaaS partner. It’s impossible to know when most disasters will come. MSPs must demonstrate they can restore a system at any time. Those that maintain data centers with multiple fiber connections and can withstand any natural disasters can deliver real value to companies. Multiple kinds of Web connection are especially useful to avoid problems when it’s time to restore a system. Moreover, understanding the physical location of a data center and the need for co-location are important. Geographic diversity ensures a vendor’s data centers won’t be subject to the same natural disasters as its customers. It may seem obvious to most, but it’s among the most significant considerations for any organization looking into DRaaS. Maintaining locations in different regions will help MSPs appeal to companies in their own regions that want assurance they’ll be able to quickly get up and running again after a disaster.

As with any major business decision, there are important elements to consider before finalizing a DRaaS project. MSPs must understand the sensitivity of these investments, disprove the myths and show companies how DRaaS can overcome long-standing barriers to DR.

About the Author: Scott Youngs is the chief information officer of Key Information Systems, Inc., a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced software-defined data centers. These competencies are tightly complemented by a full suite of data center capabilities, including private and hybrid cloud offerings, connectivity services, colocation facilities and managed services.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino