Opinion

Finding a silver lining in the cloud

by David Blackman, general manager, Northern Europe, Acronis

Although the buzz around cloud computing looks set to continue well into 2011 and beyond, many resellers are still trying to figure out exactly what it means and what benefits it holds for them.

For many resellers, offering cloud services to their existing customer base could well present a significant new opportunity, both in terms of recurring revenue streams and also customer retention, or stickiness. New IDC research shows that worldwide IT spending on cloud will grow almost threefold, reaching $44.2 billion by 2013. The cloud is a cost-effective alternative to many traditional technologies. Cloud-based backup, for example, is a credible alternative to tape and disk-based offsite backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions.

The appeal of the cloud is increased by a price point that brings enterprise class data protection and DR services within the reach of most SMBs.  Effectively, cloud services offer the benefits of a dedicated datacenter without any of the associated capital investment and management costs. Because the infrastructure in the cloud is primarily managed by the service provider, most of the traditional management and infrastructure complexities are eliminated.  Resellers will also be given the capability to white label trusted vendor solutions to provide the whole infrastructure to the end user. This makes the cloud the clear winner in terms of a solution that is not just the most affordable, but also the most easily administered.

IDC also anticipates the cloud will play a key role in what it terms as a hybrid approach to backup and DR.  In this scenario a business will keep a copy of its data locally as well as a copy held remotely in the cloud. This approach combines the best data protection practices with the fastest local recovery option, ensuring optimum business continuity whatever happens. Resellers that adopt this hybrid strategy for their customers should improve their deal conversion rate and grow their recurring revenue base with high margin services while building greater loyalty with their customers.

We are living in a hybrid world. The combination of the three environments (physical, virtual, cloud) that most of us operate in may not necessarily offer the definitive solution to an organisation's DR pain points - and who knows what changes will be introduced in the next 10 years - but it is certainly moving SMBs in the right direction. Resellers who can provide one backup and recovery solution that addresses all three environments, can help manage their customers entire DR infrastructure irrespective of how advanced they are today. They will be able to add extra value by being a trusted advisor Cloud services offer a bright future and may prove to be the silver lining we're all looking for when it comes to DR.

This was first published in January 2011

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