Boost backup and disaster recovery (BDR) revenue by bundling complementary solutions and services.
One of the most commonly covered technologies in Business Solutions magazine is BDR. It’s one of the few technologies that is offered by VARs, MSPs (managed services providers), and retail point of sale solution providers alike, and it’s a fit for companies of all sizes and verticals.
There are two primary business strategies for selling BDR: One way is to sell it as a stand-alone solution. If you’re trying to get your foot in the door with a new client, it may be tempting to use BDR as an icebreaker. But most successful MSPs will attest that selling comprehensive bundled solutions (i.e., the second business strategy) is the preferred way to go. I recently spoke with three BDR experts to get their tips on the do’s and don’ts of BDR bundling.
Alex Rogers, CEO, CharTec
Tip #1: Avoid BDR Bundling Pitfalls
Before bundling any additional technologies with your BDR, Alex Rogers, CEO of CharTec, has a few words of caution you should heed. “For me, it’s not about adding a bunch of random products to the BDR,” he says. “Your BDR should be a standard piece of your traditional managed services agreement. Depending on who the client is and what their core functions are, you may consider offering an added-value factor like a file, sync, and share [FSS] program [e.g., Dropbox]. But this shouldn’t be a ‘make-or-break’ type thing. Your solution should be standardized.”
The key, he says, is to have an understanding of your customers’ needs before settling on specific bundles. “At the end of the day, it’s all about perceived value,” says Rogers. “If a prospective client doesn’t believe FSS is a value to its company, then the prospect will take that as an opportunity to talk you down on the price of your offering.”
In addition to including the right mix of desired business tools, a bundle works best when each component integrates with the others. “It is important to choose tools with established integrations that work well together,” says Brooks Borcherding, chief revenue officer at Datto. “Otherwise, the cost of service goes up significantly, which drives down profitability.”
The most effective BDR solutions integrate primary and secondary storage with backup technologies, which allow solution providers to manage storage and backup in a coordinated manner. Initiating a storage array snapshot from primary storage and automatically replicating it to secondary storage is one example of an integrated BDR offering.
Tip #2: Include Complementary Backup Services
When done right, selling bundled solutions offers a myriad of benefits to solution providers and their customers. “This model leads MSPs away from feature comparisons and price negotiations that result from point solutions and enables them to show the value delivered across the overall suite of services,” says Borcherding. “As a result, traditionally low-margin, commoditized services, such as FSS, become a more important part of the overall value equation. SaaS application backup provides a similar benefit when bundled into a broader total data protection offering.”
For example, there is a growing need to integrate BDR with online-hosted platforms, such as Microsoft Office 365. This integrated service, also known as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), is becoming a huge opportunity. Analyst groups such as MarketsandMarkets report that the global DRaaS market is expected to grow from $1.42 billion in 2015 to $11.92 billion by 2020, representing a 52.9 percent CAGR over a five-year period.
Brian Babineau, senior VP and general manager, Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda
Although many online-hosted platforms, like Microsoft Office 365, do include a data backup component, it pales in comparison to the value of a true DRaaS offering. There is a misconception in the market that cloud-based apps are protected through backup or long-term retention in a manner similar to what enterprises do with traditional email. This is simply not the case. There is some basic short-term data retention, but it will not meet the needs of businesses that have compliance requirements or other data access or long-term protection requirements.
Tip #3: BDR And Security Are Highly Complementary, Too
Aside from the many types of complementary backup technologies (e.g., image-based backups complement file-based backups; local backups complement cloud backups), security is the next closest complement to BDR. “Network security is akin to a home alarm system, whereas BDR is like a homeowner’s insurance policy that comes into play if something is stolen or damaged,” says Brian Babineau, senior VP and general manager, Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda.
A good place to start with security is email, since that is where the majority of malware and ransomware threats originate. “Employees click attachments or links that appear to come from a bank or shipping company, and that instigates malware on their workstation and network,” says Babineau. But not all email and network security solutions are created equal, he warns.
One of the must-have features necessary to thwart today’s sophisticated threats is called sandboxing. “Many of today’s malware threats are like ticking time bombs,” says Babineau. “They initially don’t cause any problems, until their timer expires days, weeks, or even months later. Sandboxing enables these files to be quarantined in a safe area and further inspected.” Some companies use sandboxing for email or their network, but rarely do they invest in both, he says. “That’s like putting a deadbolt on your front door but only having a latch on your back door. MSPs should be selling firewall solutions and email security solutions that support sandboxing.”
While it’s important to select security solutions with lots of features, don’t neglect the importance of managing the solutions, say the experts. For example, some BDR vendors also have email security offerings that allow both solutions to be managed from a single interface. Similarly, some BDR vendors may have strategic partnerships with third-party security vendors, which include deeper integration and management capabilities. IT solution providers should look for these integration partnerships and management capabilities before they piecemeal BDR and security products on their own.
The key to supercharging your BDR offering, say the experts, is to avoid treating BDR as a task-based IT function. Instead, MSPs should view it as a strategic business process that plays a key role in business continuity. By talking strategically about business continuity early in the design process, and less about the simple task of backing up data and the cost per gigabyte to store data in the cloud, you’ll increase your chances of avoiding the BDR commodity trap. Subsequently, by broadening the sales discussion to include complementary solutions like DRaaS, FSS, and security, you will make it easier for higher-level decision makers, such as line-of-business executives and CEOs, to see the value of buying a bundled solution rather than several individual products, which makes good sense on many levels.