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At Alpha NetSolutions, literally 100 percent of the company's customers rely on some form of cloud computing including hosted Microsoft Exchange, says Alpha NetSolutions' Shea.
"If you have two feet of water in your data center, your servers and backup are gone, but if you are on a cloud platform, you just drive to Starbucks or McDonalds and you are up and running."
Alpha NetSolutions includes hosted Exchange as part of its standard managed services package. "Hosted Exchange is so important to us, we give it away with our support plan," said Shea. "Some people think cloud is about saving money, but it's about a more robust platform that costs less. You couldn't afford to put in the redundancy you have in a cloud solution with an on-premise solution and make it accessible to so many people regardless of their location."
All of this, of course, was not the case even six years ago, says Shea, when many of his customers were still relying on tape backup that was just plain unreliable. "We used to cross our fingers," recalls Shea. "With tape we would be praying we would be able to get the data back. We never felt comfortable. It was pretty bad back then. A lot of times my guys wouldn't want me to know what kind of problems we were having with this stuff. Today, it's just no big deal."
"BDR [Backup Disaster Recovery] technology has really matured," said Shea. "We haven't had a customer lose a file in the last four years."
Alpha NetSolutions has standard BDR services and best practices that make data recovery for his clients a non- issue. "A big part of our managed services is getting our clients to standardize best practices with the same level of fault tolerance, antivirus, battery backup, redundant ISPs," he said. "All of that is part of our standard managed services practice. Every one of our clients gets our backup disaster recovery [BDR] service. Ten years ago, every one of our clients was a one off. Today, we have a single standard best practice."
Alpha NetSolutions' product arsenal includes StorageCraft's ShadowProtect service combined with the latest virtualization technology and hosting from Rackspace. These days, says Shea, he can even virtualize data in the cloud. "We can have customers back up in 10 minutes," he says.