As cloud technology continues to evolve at an incredible rate, many businesses are eager to make the most of remote services and management tools. Some companies, however, are reluctant to upend their existing infrastructure for unfamiliar options. While this can present a serious struggle for agents seeking to bring their customers up to speed, it also opens the door for a conversation about a colocation-to-cloud strategy. And according to Sean Patrick Tario, trainer and VP of the new Cloud Elements Division for MicroCorp, disaster recovery serves as an ideal starting point.
“Many companies don’t have a disaster recovery program in place,” says Tario. “They might have backup, but backup isn’t disaster recovery. If your site goes down, backup means you don’t lose all your data. But with disaster recovery, if your site goes down, it will not stay down for very long, if at all.”
For most companies that own their infrastructure and have it colocated, this presents an opportunity for agents to talk about hosted disaster recovery, which is attractive to businesses because it removes the costly need for physical hardware upgrades. Once an agent starts talking to customers and walking them through how hosted disaster recovery works, that gets them thinking about what other applications can be hosted. And that’s why it’s crucial for agents to be aware of the applications and systems architecture their clients have in place.
“If an agent isn’t talking to their customers about what applications their business is running, they’re never going to get into any kind of cloud conversation,” says Tario. “You have to understand which applications they’re running 24/7/365, and, from there, you can piecemeal which data and applications can be hosted elsewhere versus owned. That’s the ideal way to begin this cloud conversation with a customer.”
Most companies already use Gmail, Salesforce, or Office 365, so they’re already operating a hybrid environment to some extent. This offers another avenue into the cloud conversation and a discussion about which applications can be hosted elsewhere and which should remain on-premises. “Those are the kinds of key conversations we train agents to have with customers,” says Tario. “We give them a comfort level to start digging down these rabbit holes.”
Another important area to assess is a company’s total cost of ownership. If a company truly wants to cut costs, this is a conversation that must involve where applications are hosted.
“If a company is using physical gear in a colocation environment,” says Tario, “then those servers, switches, and routers are likely a couple of years old and ready for a hardware refresh. And if the customer is looking to do a hardware refresh, you should ask them if they’d consider saving a couple hundred thousands dollars on hardware, and instead renting or leasing that equipment for a fraction of the cost. Then tell them that’s exactly what a hosted environment is.”
Tario also reminds partners that it’s not only companies that pose challenges to a colocation-to-cloud conversation. Fear and insecurity also often prevent partners from pitching the cloud.
“Many partners fear not understanding or knowing what options are out there,” says Tario, “or they’re intimidated by the terminology and unfamiliar with all the acronyms. They’re hesitant to start talking about things they aren’t familiar with, because if a customer asks a question they don’t know the answer to, many partners will want to make something up. The correct answer to give, however, is: ‘That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer, but we have a dedicated team of engineers and solution architects that specialize in the cloud hosting environment, and I’d love to engage with them to have this conversation with you.’
That’s where MicroCorp’s Cloud Elements division comes in. This team specializes in asking customers insightful questions about their specific situations, so they can do due-diligence to determine which service providers offer the most appropriate solutions.
“Unfortunately, we see agents get convinced by some service providers that present themselves as end-all, be-all hosted solutions,” says Tario. “These providers tell agents that if they come across any hybrid opportunities, they should throw them over the fence and let the provider close the deal. In reality, these providers will try to sell clients pre-packaged services, even though those services might not be the ideal solution for the customer.”
That’s why MicroCorp promotes a different approach.
“Partners are doing their customers a disservice by simply throwing the client to the provider for the most critical solutions engineering part of the conversation,” says Tario. “We teach agents to not simply flip opportunities over the fence to a provider. We prefer they engage our Cloud Elements team to do the front-end consulting before they bring in a provider, because this is hands down what is in the best interests of the client and the agent’s long term commission revenue stream.”
There are many ways to approach a colocation-to-cloud conversation with your clients. Hopefully, Sean’s insights can help you more effective position cloud solutions to your customers. Contact MicroCorp and Sean today to learn more.