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Technology is practically everywhere in today’s small and medium businesses (SMBs). In fact, if there’s one thing that most businesses today have in common, it’s a reliance on information, data and technology. Unfortunately for managed service providers (MSPs), value-added resellers (VARs) and IT administrators, the commonalities between businesses tend to stop there. Each business has its own needs, its own specialized software and its own processes. When it comes to protecting this wide variety of clients and their data and systems, the best products are the ones that can mitigate these differences.
David Vaughan, CEO of A-1 Tech Support, described the differences among several of the industries he and his team work with:
“The hospitality industry is a challenge,” he said, “because hotels—especially high end resorts—are information intensive. They have guests making phone calls 24/7, getting on the Internet, making reservations, requesting services, doing things at all hours that require bullet-proof and secure Internet access. And that’s not including hotel staff members—they work 24/7 as well.
“Nor does it include hotel/resort food and beverage outlets, where point of sale (POS) data must be secured and at the same time, shared with the resort’s central property management system. The guest’s folio updates every time they have dinner in a resort restaurant, order room service or even a martini on the pool deck. Staff and guests are all accessing information and services on the servers constantly. There’s a ton of demand on a resort’s wired and wireless networks. In reality, there’s no time for down time.”
By comparison, he says, “With our law firm customers, if you wait until it’s late enough, even the hardest-working associates will leave the office so we can then work on their network (remotely or onsite as needed). But not our high-end resort and hotel customers. You can see that we have to continually back-up all of this data—room reservations, POS transactions, phone calls—
everything, to have all of this guest information readily retrievable, in case a system goes down. Or if a guest requires a backup copy of his charges from last year, for the expense report he forgot to submit.”
When it comes to being able to adapt to this variety of business situations, service providers like A-1 Tech Support need to find ways to keep their costs down. That means they need holistic IT solutions that address not only their clients’ various needs but their own business model as well.
A Holistic Approach
For Vaughan, that holistic solution for backup and disaster recovery (BDR) is StorageCraft® ShadowProtect®. “They’ve just made everything so easy and affordable,” he said. “Nothing comes close to ShadowProtect in terms of ease of use, reliability and affordability.”
“Because we deal with many different businesses,” he said, “we see many different line-of-business programs, proprietary software developed for a particular industry that
most people have never heard of. We need ShadowProtect to work with this software and it does. It just works.”
Vaughan gave one specific example of ShadowProtect in action in the hospitality industry:
“A new resort customer called us in and what we found was an IT nightmare. Here they were, a luxury resort, and they were running unlicensed software, had a couple of servers—a POS server tracking their food and beverage transactions and a property management system to track guest reservations, phone calls, etc.—all without a backup of any kind. It’s unbelievable. And unfortunately, all too common.
“We told them that we could get a BDR in place quickly, and that it wouldn’t involve budget-breaking cost. In a matter of hours we had repurposed an old server, and had it tricked out with bigger, more robust hard drives. Then, because we’re members of the StorageCraft MSP partner program, our engineers were able to quickly download and install ShadowProtect on each server. We imaged their servers in a matter of hours. It was truly amazing to be able to install complete BDR capability for this new client when nothing of the kind had existed there before. And all in a matter of hours and at a very modest cost, thanks to the low monthly fees of the ShadowProtect MSP program. Can you imagine what would have happened if one of their servers had gone down before we got those first images in place?”
Of course, the hospitality industry is just one industry that Vaughan and the A-1 team serve. Other information-intensive verticals include the highly regulated insurance industry, law firms that must track and store countless client files and depositions, and medical clients regulated by HIPAA privacy laws. According to Vaughan, in each case, ShadowProtect meets the need.
Features for Every Need
As a member of the StorageCraft Profit-Ability Partner Program, Vaughan has firsthand experience with the various features in ShadowProtect that make it his BDR software of choice:
“ShadowProtect has an incremental backup feature that many of our clients absolutely must have. If a resort banquet manager accidentally deletes the proposal he’s been working on all night, we immediately use the amazing ability in ShadowProtect to mount and browse a server or desktop image to save the day for that staffer (and thus the resort) by quickly retrieving and restoring the proposal to his desktop, in the time that it takes him to refill his coffee cup. Features like that allow us to save the day for our customers. Our clients depend on us for that.
“ShadowProtect is just so easy. You can pull that needle out of the haystack, no matter where it is. It’s very powerful, we can retrieve anything—Word documents, email and attachments, photos, all retrievable from the last incremental image.”
According to Vaughan, ShadowProtect isn’t just about backing up data. It’s about giving clients access to that data and making sure they continue to have that access:
“Let me tell you about this software’s ability to virtualize a downed client server, allowing their business to keep running from that virtual copy, while we go in and fix whatever’s caused the failure of the physical hardware. We’ve even restored an updated operating virtual server, with new, up-to-the-minute customer data, to a completely new, dissimilar piece of hardware using the Hardware Independent Restore® feature of ShadowProtect.”
A Diverse Business Continuity Solution
In Vaughan’s experience, the value of ShadowProtect doesn’t stop with BDR:
“ShadowProtect integrates with everything, so I don’t have to worry,” he said. “But you can also use it to fix your customers’ software issues. We use ShadowProtect to create a virtual sandbox copy of customers’ systems.
“Let’s say that something goes wrong on one of the client’s main servers and we see the dreaded ‘ntfs’ file system errors in the event viewer logs. Or our remote monitoring and management software tells us that trouble is afoot. We can spin-up a virtual copy of the system and test various fixes on it before going anywhere near the physical machine. Once we’ve proven our solution in this virtual copy, we can use it on the live box without taking it offline or sacrificing our client’s productivity. It allows us to be proactive.”
For Vaughan and the A-1 Tech Support team, it’s clear that StorageCraft ShadowProtect is a business continuity solution that allows them to address the IT concerns of all their various clients.
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