MSPs Shuffle In Buffalo Via Snowmobile To Help Clients As Record Snow Piles Up

Five feet of snow doesn't stop a managed service provider.

That's what MSPs based in the Buffalo, N.Y., area said as they work to keep clients and their own businesses running. The region has been hammered with immense amounts of snowfall, with the National Weather Service predicting total snowfall will reach 70 inches by Wednesday night in some areas.

"It's business as usual for us today despite the snow," said Skip Gould, CEO of BrightPlanIT, a network and systems integration service provider in Buffalo.

[Related: VIDEO: Opportunities For VARs In Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery]

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Gould said most of the employees are working remotely, though some of them did make it into the office. Gould said his lead salesperson had more than 6 feet of snow outside his house, and Gould said his own car got stranded on the road and he was stuck in the fire department overnight. Despite that, he said that employees were still answering the phones, remotely taking care of systems and operations. The only problem, he said, is that the mail will be delayed.

Ikram Massabini, owner of Buffalo-based MVP Network Consulting, said most of his 32 employees are working from home today, using the company's VoIP and Kaseya PSA tools. He said that he has 5 feet of snow outside of his window right now, an amount he joked was just a "little bit of snow," and his car is completely buried.

Massabini said two employees are in the office today to make sure the data center stays up and running. Those employees have to get into the office, he said, to keep the company's cloud computing services going.

"I hate to say, but sometimes we use snowmobiles to get to the office," Massabini said.

Massabini said that many of the company's clients are closed, but MVP is working to make sure the client systems are up and running when they return to their offices tomorrow. The company is trying to do as much remote maintenance as possible and helping clients who want to work remotely. He said that he sees this as an opportunity to show clients "the value in what we do for them."

David Stinner, president and founder of Tonawanda, N.Y.-based US itek, said level of support means not only helping clients work remotely and reaching out to executives to make sure everything is working correctly, but he said he will help transport key staff if needed in his four-wheel-drive car.

Nearly all of his employees have made it into the office, he said. There is only about 6 inches of snow in his area, but a couple of employees got stuck in places where around 6 feet of snow fell. Stinner said his company's policy is that employees have to get to the office to help keep client systems up and running unless there is a state of emergency or driving ban. One employee walked more than a mile to get to the office, and Stinner said he would pick the employees up if they didn't have a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

"We're as necessary as an emergency room or utility because our customers rely on what we do," Stinner said. "I do what it takes, and I'll get my Suburban four wheel drive out and get to the office if we need to because our policy is to support our clients' needs. They rely on us in times like this when they have to operate remotely. They need the extended support to work remotely."

Preparing for this amount of snow for an MSP means having strong remote work capabilities, including VoIP phones and a good PSA tool, they said. For their clients, the executives said they use disaster recovery, cloud and VoIP to get them running remotely as well. For those with data centers and NOCs, the executives said they have backup generators and some test them before big storms.

All of the MSPs, however, agreed that incident weather is a great way for them to show their value to clients. Massabini said he sees it as a sales opportunity for clients who have opted out of an "all you can eat" managed services agreement. Now, he said, he expects they will see the value in that type of agreement, and it could be a sales opportunity.

"We look at it as a positive," Massabini said.