The cloud proved to be a lifeline for many businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than nine out of ten UK firms say the cloud played an important part in their response – and in many instances it was managed service providers (MSPs) that helped them navigate their transition to cloud, providing invaluable knowledge, services and solutions.
Of those service offerings, cloud back-up can provide tremendous value in helping to secure an organisation’s data. Indeed, in the new hybrid era of work, Microsoft recommends that organisations use third-party back-up for their Office 365 data.
However, one of the biggest challenges that MSPs face is convincing their clients and prospective customers of the value that cloud back-up for Office 365 delivers.
It is important though that MSPs overcome this roadblock and can explain the positives that cloud back-up offers to customers. Here we examine some common misconceptions we hear from customers and provide some ways to start a discussion to help educate them on the importance of cloud back-up for Office 365.
The importance of cloud back-up for Microsoft Office 365
Most people know that Office 365 has built-in redundancy and if a Microsoft server ever goes down, the customer will never notice. However, what happens if a user deletes, changes, or misplaces a file? They often don’t realise that the built-in Microsoft retention period is a maximum of 93 days for emails and 30 days for SharePoint and OneDrive data. This scenario happens more than you might think.
Cloud back-up is important because it not only offers the storage of critical business data in a secondary location to the Microsoft cloud, but also supplements the built-in Microsoft retention periods for Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Groups data.
Anyone using Office 365 can benefit from backing up data. With the massive migration of data to the cloud, it’s easy to overlook the need for a secondary, separate copy of business-critical data. This is a concept everyone became used to with hosted on-premise servers and the same is true for data that lives in the cloud.
As mentioned earlier, the biggest obstacle MSPs face is explaining the value of cloud back-up.
One of the biggest misapprehensions among customers is that Microsoft already backs up their Office 365 data in the cloud.
However, I have spoken with many MSPs where a customer’s user accidentally deleted a file and realised two months later that it’s not available anymore. It can take months to get that data back, or worse, the file is never seen again.
Another common obstacle is that customers may confuse a back-up with an archive. Customers who must comply with various regulations will often subscribe to an archiving service. They often think that since there is an archive, they no longer need a back-up. But the archive and the back-up serve very different purposes.
The back-up contains all previously backed data and can quickly and easily restore back into the Office 365 tenant. An archive may only contain a portion of data that is required for preservation to meet regulatory requirements. In addition, you cannot easily restore data to Office 365 but instead can only search and export data to a personal folder file.
Making the pitch
If you have experienced these obstacles or have heard similar objections, below are some helpful tips to guide you through the cloud back-up sales pitch for Microsoft Office 365 customers.
Importance of all business-critical data: Almost everyone understands the importance of email, but OneDrive and SharePoint are just as important. They often hold more business-critical data than email boxes. I often ask, “What happens if someone deletes a folder or makes a change to a file?” This is a great opening question for a discussion around cloud back-up.
Office 365 storage limits: Just like on-premise Exchange servers, there is a limit to Office 365 storage. If an email or file is deleted accidentally and your organisation is at your Office 365 storage limit, very often, Office 365 will remove the deleted items on or before the data retention period. Ask your customer about their Office 365 storage limits and their growth plans. Explain the data retention periods that Microsoft has to establish the value of a separate cloud back-up service to provide additional security to their data.
Employee turnover: To preserve the data of an employee who has left the customers’ organisation, your customer would have to keep the Office 365 licence. However, with cloud-to-cloud back-up services, the data is backed up and accessible even if the Office 365 licence is removed. The data can be recovered regardless of if the user exists in the Office 365 tenant. The customer can save both the licence cost and the storage cost of that data sitting in Office 365.
Part of a multi-layered email security strategy: Email is still the number one attack vector and Office 365 is not immune to cyberattacks. Include cloud back-up as part of your multi-layered email security service offering to show your customers that your service offering covers every aspect of email security to properly protect them from today’s email threats.
Pointing out the importance and unique capabilities of cloud back-up will be of great help in your conversations with any clients that remain on the fence about the service. Also, tying it together with other services in your portfolio during the pitch can help convince customers to add those other services as well, if they have not already.
As an MSP you should feel confident to address any concerns, and ultimately convince customers that cloud back-up is something their business can’t afford to live without.