You might have noticed that things have been somewhat quiet around here. I certainly haven't posted for some time. We’ve been quietly working on something really great, and we needed to focus on that. It’s now time for us to publicly announce what we've been up to.

Managed Backup Solutions from Datalink
Datalink has been in the backup business for more than 20 years. Over that time, we've had numerous customer requests to manage their backups. In the past, we've delivered custom one-off engagements. Depending on what the customer asked for, we'd offer blocks of hours, an onsite resource, or even hire their staff and provide them with an all OpEx expense to manage their environment. Throughout the years, backup solutions and technologies have grown more complex. Finding a talented backup administrator has become exceedingly hard. We talked about what’s needed here. Basically, a really good backup administrator is probably one of the most talented resources in any organization. Retaining that talent is becoming increasingly hard, if you can find them. Not surprisingly, we have been asked more and more by our customers to offer a prepackaged managed backup service.

We built one.

The right people, processes, and tools
Delivering world-class enterprise solutions, regardless of the problem, is precipitated on having world-class people, processes, and tools. We're fortunate to have Datalink OneCall Support Services. We’ve built this team over 17 years of providing support services to our Symantec, EMC, Quantum, and NetApp customers. Arguably, we provide the best support for these solutions. This team also delivers the SolutionScape backup services. We took this team and those tools, married them together with the processes we developed delivering one-off solutions, and developed our managed backup service.

Things we had to get done
We didn’t just take what we had and mush it together. We’ve been very deliberate, taking great effort to design the solution around our customers' real challenges. We knew we had the right people, tools, and processes. But we needed to make sure we delivered them in a compelling way. So, we asked our customers what other managed backup vendors were doing right and what they were doing wrong. The stuff that was right didn’t surprise us. The stuff that was wrong was very enlightening. They consistently told us the four things needed to deliver a good service:

  • Use well-trained resources (a.k.a. do it right).
  • Provide thorough visibility.
  • Be clear about the data ownership.
  • Do it for a fair, predictable price.

Number one was easy. We have the right people (some of them worked at Symantec for years). The second was also easy. Our StorageScape and managed monitoring solutions have provided unbeatable visibility and monitoring to customers for years. The third was also easy. We explicitly state in our contract that the customer owns the data, the media (whichever form that is), and the backup catalog/index. Think about it this way: we're stewarding this for our customers.

The pricing took a bit more effort. I’m not going to describe what we did in detail as this article is already long, but here's the gist. Everyone else that does what we do bills customers based on a metered usage model. They charge either by GBs of data being protected, the number of servers being protected, by network transfers, or a combination of these elements. We don't believe that these are fair to the customer, and the customers we spoke to agreed. To fix this, we developed a simple one-page questionnaire that lets us determine the complexity of an environment. We can then provide a straightforward, predictable pricing model based on a level of effort and not a metered model.

With this model, we offer remote administration of Symantec NetBackup environments. The equipment we manage is on-premise at the customers' data centers (whether they own them or they're in a co-lo). For customers that have all the hardware and software they need, we offer “just services.” For customers that need new or enhanced software and/or hardware, we can bundle everything together into a single monthly bill. Just tell us how it makes sense for you. We're very flexible.

Find out more
If you're interested in managed backup solutions, please give us a shout. We’d love to show you what we've done, what its meant for the customers we already have on-board, and how we can help you.