November 28, 2011 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from Channel Pro.  Author: Ian Masters.

Where can the channel capitalise on Recovery-as-a-Service?

Business continuity and disaster recovery will always be necessary investments for companies – data and applications are critical tools that support revenue generation, service to customers and their overall success. However, budgets for investment in technology have been severely hit over the last couple of years. To cope with these challenges, organisations are looking at how cloud computing could be used to meet this need around continuity…

In November this year, Gartner released research on how this market opportunity for ‘Recovery-as-a-Service’ will be taken up by 30 percent of mid-size companies by 2014, compared to only one percent of organisations today. For companies selling business continuity solutions, this therefore marks both a big change in strategy across this market and a bigger opportunity for the future.

From a customer perspective, the maturity of cloud computing is following a similar path to that of virtualisation a few years ago: server virtualisation started out in test and development then moved into supporting business continuity programmes, and then into production environments as the technology was proven. Cloud is taking the same path and customers are now entering the phase of looking at shifting their backup and recovery strategy over to this new approach.

From the perspective of a reseller or service provider, there are a couple of potential routes to take. The first is whether this is a market that the provider wants to be active in or not. For those that do, they can choose either to build their own cloud platform and sell access to this service, or partner with another infrastructure provider in order to offer this instead.

Both approaches have their positives: owning your own cloud platform means that you can keep all of the potential revenue that comes through from the customer, and means that you can ensure that customer service meets the same level that is expected. On the other side, working with a partner involves less capital outlay and requires less technical knowledge for support.

Whichever approach you choose, the platform that you put in place has to support all the workloads, servers and operating systems that your customers may have installed. The whole point of the cloud is that it works for everyone in the same way, independent of what is in place at the customer site. If this approach is not chosen, then you face the higher overhead costs of running multiple tools across different customers and the potential for gaps in customer recovery plans.

The other main area for decisions to be made is around the depth of service that you offer. At the most basic level, partners can offer access to storage resources over the internet where customers can host their data with minimal support. This is typically what most of the online backup solutions offer: scheduled replication of information over to cloud storage with no real strategy for recovery. This can meet the needs of some organisations and is very cheap to both run and manage, but it does not cover the wider requirement for business continuity.

At the other end of the scale, Recovery-as-a-Service involves adding more interactivity and support for running workloads as part of the overall cloud offering. This ability to run machines “in the cloud” not only differentiates Recovery-as-a-Service or cloud recovery offerings from standard cloud storage offerings, it also offers higher margin and consulting opportunities with customers going forward.

For channel providers looking at offering these services to their customers, market demand is expected to grow. However, establishing the trust with customers will be based on proving that Recovery-as-a-Service can meet their requirements as well as owning their IT assets internally, while also providing a service at lower costs than can be achieved otherwise.

Building this notion that Recovery-as-a-Service is reliable and resilient will need both an understanding of what business continuity really means to organisations, but also an all-encompassing approach to supporting customers across whatever applications and data they might have. The opportunity is there to help customers achieve better continuity results than would be possible otherwise.