What I Learned in Ten Years of Building My Successful MSP

Oct 09, 2015

What I Learned in Ten Years of Building My Successful MSP

BY Melissa Stanton

As a Datto partner, you know the importance of cloud storage like the back of your hand. It makes data backup more convenient than ever, and while this seems like an easy concept to grasp to us, some potential customers may need more convincing. This week’s Datto Partner Podcast features Andrew Schmidt of Hexistor Data Protection Services, which recently celebrated it’s 10th year in business.

Andrew offers some advice for relaying the importance of cloud storage to clients, and shares some valuable tips for encouraging the client to understand and appreciate the technology. Andrew will also review the viewpoints of several verticals such as education, manufacturing and hospitality and how cloud storage affects their business on a daily basis. Also, hear how Andrew was able to implement Datto into one of the largest hotel chains in the country. Podcast host is Rob Rae, Vice President of Business Development at Datto.

Note: Our apologies, but some moments of this podcast may be inaudible; there were some technical difficulties during recording. Thank you for your patience.

Please introduce us to your company, Hexistor.

Andrew says, “I started Hexistor in 2004 providing data storage and email storage for the broker-dealer community in Chicago. We worked with several customers in the Chicago area to integrate a number of technologies to provide them with storage that was remote from the data centers. The integration would be things like high speed internet connectivity through a bonding of T1’s or DS3’s so that, basically, we were providing them with disk-on-a-string. We evolved that model since then to be far more sophisticated now to provide business continuity and disaster recovery, and the ability to boot images and do bare metal restore in a total data center or server failure.”

Hexistor is a self-proclaimed “pioneer in Cloud backup service.” Ten years ago, I’m assuming, when you first started looking at this technology, it wasn’t called “the Cloud.”

“No, it was not the Cloud,” Andrew says, “it was putting together high-speed dedicated private lines. I’ve been in IT now for thirty years, and I worked quite a bit on the development of the Internet, ARPANET, which evolved into NSFNET when I was working at the University of Illinois, which evolved into NSF, which became the Internet when the network access points were all interconnected. This is really dating myself, but I was heavily involved in that initial Internet infrastructure. I took that knowledge and went to AT&T and helped commercialize those products for general purpose for everybody to use them. I was able to take that knowledge of how to build high-speed connectivity between two locations, whether it was T1 or DS3, and bonding those together to provide that cloud-based, even though it wasn’t called that, as you pointed out, that cloud-based connectivity and cloud-based service. That was very, very basic, though, because it was just the ability to have replication of information, but that was it. It provided you some safeguards, but nothing that would approach what we can do now with bare metal restore or virtualization. At the time, the VM didn’t even exist.

Where do you think the innovation from cloud technology and the evolution of cloud technology is coming from?

“The cloud is such a generic term that it sounds too generic to be applied to many specific points,” Andy notes, ”you have things like email applications…I think those are very easily migrated into the cloud. We work a lot with point of sales systems for our customers, and those are being migrated into the cloud. There’s this acceptance and reliability of the cloud in running those applications that would make a lot of sense. We see a tremendous amount of applications and data that are locally hosted. That’s where working with our customers to build solutions that are specific to their needs, it’s key to be able to support both a local and a remote backup, and that’s where Datto and Hexistor pair well together in working with our customers to meet their needs.”

Can you talk a little bit about your implementation of Datto into one of the largest hotels chains in the country?

Andy says, “Sure. What Hexistor does is we’ve taken this model of local and remote backup and provided it to several large hospitality franchises. There’s specific requirements, and applications are very generic. It fundamentally comes down to they’re just running a collection of servers with applications that are mission-critical. We have experience with those applications and those services, and we can recreate them in a time of disaster very quickly, but at the end of the day, they are just computers and data. We have quite a bit of traction in the hospitality market, but with that said we can do everything from a Re/Max to ACE Hardware. It’s all just computers and data, but the applications get moved into the cloud over time, some get moved from the cloud back to the customer location. There’s still a tremendous amount of information at the customer location and mission-critical applications at customer locations that we still see a tremendous growth in that market, because information is everywhere. I think what’s interesting is that people are beginning to appreciate the fact that the applications and information are what are critical, and the machine is just a device that runs that and has access to that information. The display, the tablet, whatever you’re working on, that’s just interface to the information, and the information is what’s valuable. If you can maintain the instance and the integrity of the information, then you’re safe and your business will continue to run.”

Are there any nuances to verticalization that you could share?

“I don’t think that there is a particular nuance,” Andy notes, “I believe what there might be is they’ve crossed that threshold of appreciating the value of the information, understanding that the information is just that, it’s just data, and it can run on any machine, any instance, and because they value the information and they know that their business is reliant upon it, I think that’s probably one of the key points. They know that downtime is bad, and they can quantify downtime, and they know that if they can mitigate the downtime and reduce it dramatically or make it transparent, then that drops right to the bottom line for the corporations. I think that there are a couple of verticals that do appreciate that, or they can measure downtime. Probably manufacturing is another good vertical where they know the cost of a machine. With my customers, they appreciate the value of a point of sale system or a reservation system, and you know that if it’s down, it is directly translatable into lost revenue. In manufacturing, they know if a machine is down, it’s directly measurable. It’s a line item. They can be quantified and appreciated so that if they can mitigate or reduce the downtime, they have a number for that. They’ve crossed that mental threshold into thinking about how it’s going to affect their business. I think that’s key, is that they have that appreciation.”

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