Backup hosting services, technical expertise and a proven track record are three key elements of a channel business that can help you land contracts and ultimately expand your customer base.
But these contracts won't find you. You must be a leader in the market to attract customers. By working with specific technologies and providing in-demand services, you can blaze the trail to becoming a viable source of backup solutions -- and snap up money-making contracts along the way.
Here I'll identify a list of "hot" storage technologies that your customers may not yet know they need.
Handling data is getting more complex for many enterprises. In general, most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are not going to be able to handle and store large amounts of data on-site. This provides you an opportunity to take over this aspect of a customer's business.
"Becoming a managed service provider (MSP) is a huge growth opportunity for VARs," said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting. "Data is constantly becoming more difficult to back up."
As customers are restricted by HIPPA compliance or Sarbanes-Oxley, working with a professional who can help them properly store data and meet regulatory compliance requirements provides a huge advantage, especially for smaller shops who want to maintain small staff size.
"If a customer can outsource their back up, there's a huge trade in cost for that company because an SMB can have less staff to worry about and concentrate on their core business," said Staimer.
Archiving is the long-term protection of assets, which a company is often lawfully required to save. For an SMB, this can mean a large investment in equipment and staff, which could bloat the budget and shift that enterprise's focus away from doing what it does best. Create a reoccurring revenue stream by maintaining this data for your customer.
"Regulatory compliance is the driver here," said Lauren Whitehouse, analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Compliance adds complexity to data protection and retention. Most companies would rather surrender this activity to VARs that have a certification in storage processes and methodologies instead of invest it in house."
Consider positioning yourself as solutions provider in this field: "We sort through regulatory compliance issues so you don't have to" could make for an attractive business slogan.
Hardware is another archiving option. Tape has been the dominate player in the field, but new technologies are emerging that may help you sell your customers on archiving.
"New archiving techs are putting optical on the network-attached storage (NAS) front-end. From a hardware perspective it's a good opportunity for a VAR because the enterprise can save on power and cooling as well," said Staimer.
Electronic data discovery (EDD)
Sorting through and looking for critical information can be a huge investment of time and money for small companies -- both of which are usually in short supply. To win these sales you must have the right technology partnerships and compliance knowledge.
"Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP) are transforming the way companies must manage electronically stored information," said Whitehouse. "These amendments dictate that companies be prepared for EDD, including knowing what electronic content they have, how much effort is required to get it, how to produce it and how to delete it."
Meeting those regulations could force an SMB to dedicate staff and resources to establishing storage and data recovery procedures. To capture this business you must have the proper hardware infrastructure in place and knowledge about the compliance requirements.
In the end you can save your customers a great deal of time, worry and money by offering any of the abovementioned services effectively.