Vince Tinnirello is the founder and CEO of Anchor Nework Solutions.
As IT managed service providers, we’re always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves and provide value to our clients. How can we deliver more services to them? Can we do this without having to increase the cost to clients? What unique needs do our clients have that we may be able to meet very easily?
One of my favorite “subtle” ways for Anchor to provide value to our clients is by including what we call a “lifeboat” server (not to be confused with Lifeboat Distribution) as part of our service offering. I say subtle because when reviewing our offering at decision making time, prospects often pay more attention to other components of our offering, such as monitoring, Help Desk support, and antivirus or mail security. It isn’t until we explain what a lifeboat server is and what it can do for them that the value-add message really clicks.
In its simplest form, a lifeboat server is a server or pc that, in the event of client hardware failure, we can loan to the client and restore their existing ShadowProtect backup into a virtual machine. You might say, “Well isn’t that what a BDR device does already?” The answer is yes, but sometimes the client budget doesn’t allow for this, or it just doesn’t fit their needs. In this situation you can supplement a client’s existing ShadowProtect backup-whether it is to USB, eSATA, or NAS device, with your own lifeboat server to provide them with basic business continuity. While some MSPs may choose to include this in their offering, others may actually rent the lifeboat server to their client and use it as a revenue stream.
At Anchor, we include it in our offering and have actually had to deploy one to a client. In our situation, the client had outdated hardware that they knew needed replacing, but they couldn’t finance a replacement until the first of the year. When their hardware died in September they were in a state of panic over how they would operate or come up with the funds three months earlier than planned. We told them not to worry, and brought in our lifeboat server, where we restored their ShadowProtect backups into a virtual machine. We had them up and running in relatively short fashion and loaned them this device until they had the funds to purchase new hardware. In addition to providing business continuity to the client, it took the pressure off of us to find a way to revive their old hardware. It was a very win-win situation as it kept them up and running and kept our support costs down.
As you can see, a lifeboat server is a low cost tool that can provide high value return to your client in the event of a disaster. Whether you buy new hardware or re provision an old pc or server, you can leverage the power of ShadowProtect to provide either a value-add or an additional revenue stream to your managed service offering.