3) NAS-based cloud storage options
Many SMBs still use tape, hard drives or a basic server for their storage needs. While these storage options may be cost effective, the data is not secure and rotating and backing it up is a struggle. Resellers usually have a story or two about a customer who spends hours every week changing tapes out and moving hard drives to a secure, off-site location.
NAS-based cloud storage addresses protection and portability while providing a simple and virtually instant backup solution, too. With a combination NAS and cloud storage approach, small businesses can use the device for local storage for quick access to data. With integrated apps included on many leading NAS devices for popular public cloud services such as Amazon and Mozy, the NAS also serves as an “on-ramp” to the cloud to archive the data and back it up offsite.
By accessing a NAS device through the cloud, your customer has the advantage of retrieving and storing information at any time regardless of the data’s physical location. They’ll find value in no longer being subject to location-based network issues that can hamper the performance of the entire enterprise.
Remote offices and branch offices (ROBOs) can also reap the benefits of a hybrid NAS and cloud storage solution. Many NAS devices are available with built-in Atmos agents so branch offices can efficiently access and back up data through the internet or a wide area network connection, to store on a private cloud solution.
4) Moving day: tips to help move the data quickly and painlessly
• Analyze: Analyze bandwidth usage, replication times and mission-critical applications that will be affected to ensure you don’t adversely impact your customer’s business. For example, if you bring your B2B customer’s email to a crawl, it may cost them business.
• Expedite: To expedite data transfer, your customer will need sufficient bandwidth to move the data to the cloud storage provider. If they don’t have it, an intermediary device, like a NAS unit, can trickle data to a cloud solution provider.
• Replication window: Be sure to evaluate how much data your customer moves on a regular basis and if this will allow them to fit inside the replication window. A hybrid model can provide a strong balance of speed and cost effectiveness, maintaining a local data cache on a NAS for immediate access, while regularly pushing data to the cloud to be accessed for disaster recovery.
• Phases: A phased approach might begin by transferring productivity applications (e.g. Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Microsoft's Office 365) and email to the cloud. Mission-critical functions and sensitive business data would be done in the second phase, once you are comfortable with the data transfer process. Local IT backup to the cloud service could also serve to mitigate initial jitters.
5) Evaluating your customer's ROI
Because there are many factors to consider, calculating a firm ROI can be difficult.
• Are you going 100% to cloud-based storage?
• Are you using a hybrid cloud, with NAS and cloud together?
• What is the cost of the storage in the cloud?
Understand how charges accumulate for storage access and bandwidth. Public cloud services like AT&T, Atmos and Mozy charge according to gigabytes of storage, so you need to be sure you have all the costs accounted to avoid surprises down the road.
6) Recurring revenue from your cloud installations
Added value comes when the reseller positions itself as a consultant, providing and packaging services around: a) installing a NAS solution; b) helping set up the network infrastructure; c) ensuring sufficient bandwidth; d) transferring data onto the NAS appliance, e) teaching best practices for delivering data to the NAS; and f) streaming it to the offsite cloud service.
Some cloud vendors have partner programs where integrators receive a recurring revenue stream. Also, VARs can invest in Atmos connectors (a service provider) to create their own cloud-based storage and add recurring revenue from this option.
The Silver Lining
As cloud-based solutions continue to emerge, SMB customers are anxious to benefit from gains in efficiency, flexibility and scalability promised by this storage option. Use these tips to get a ‘silver lining’ of competitive advantage for your customers, realized by cloud access and storage.
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