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View Full Version : Expanding Revenues: Company Controlled Backup Systems


jeubank
07-19-2011, 02:55 AM
reselling Carbonite or some other form of back-up is fine.. and adds a few dollars to the bottom line. However, We implemented a nice system, complete with a Carbonite style back-up system, automated, for the customers.

Rolling out your own Backup System to sell to customers is 1 thing, and doing it right is a completely different story. So, without further ado - OUR story.

(Please note, this has only been in effect for 2 weeks and has 5 customers)

We started our backup service by building a cheap from NewEgg for about $590 - with a fancy wireless keyboard and 17" LCD Monitor.. Speakers not included.

We mounted 2 1TB Drivers in a Redundant Raid Configuration - so it auto back-ups in case 1 harddrive fails. The harddrives are hot-swappable, so we can plug one in and pull one out quickly.

We then Purchased a 1-HR Back-up Battery / Power surge for $119.99 from Newegg - rated at 550 Watt countinous (1500 WATT Peak). Server comes in at 390 Watts.

We then customized FileZilla (Open-source! love it) attached to a script that we wrote to pull all critical system files, User documents, etc to upload to that users FTP account with our system's in the office. We offer this service for $35 per month and no GB Limit (Our customers arent backing up Videos or anything). We guarantee the data and retrieval.

Backing up - The Back up --- Every night at midnight the server executes another script to start an image of the disk onto another machine located in my home (In case of fire, theft, etc) - also with Redundant Raid harddrive configuration. Unfortunately this is not ideal. The time it takes to image the current disk is around 2.5 Hours - Its sitting at 55 GB.. It will only grow with our customers and we are looking for a better solution.

Now - We tested it for a few days with our own machines - and it worked fine. We started offering it to mainly Business or Home business customers during certain jobs (Harddrive failures, data recovery etc) all but 1 said yes so far. So in the 10 days it has been live - we have 5 customers, and probably a 6th tomorrow morning.

The server can support 4 Additional Harddrrives, and our Bandwidth in the office is more than sufficient to handle multiple uploads at once.

Our office set-up is like so:

Employees: Me, Myself, and I - My wife, and a part-time tech who comes in occassionaly. It is a office suite fit for a king - coming in at a whopping 659 SQ Ft.

Internet Set-up: 1 DSL Residential Package - $59.95 on a 20MB / 10MB Plan which sole purpose is to function as a Backup line for the Internet, and the Back-up Services we provide.
1 Cable COX Line Business Custom Package (I say customized because you need to ask permission to share the internet line) at $199.99/ month- dedicated to our own Wireless Internet Service Provider service / in-house internet needs.
And about 3 Unsecured Wireless APs in case of emergency, in range of our office's Antennas.

Ideas for expanding the service: In my work as a contracted tech prior to starting my own - I had a contract with Chase Bank, to handle all the branches in Tucson, great gig, no complaints.. got burnt out. Anyways - we did a IT Asset replacement (fancy word for.. we bought new computers). all i had to do with hook them up, turn them on - and through the network they installed everything they needed, OS, "Teller Express", Adobe, blah blah. Easy job. Easy $50. This is called a Network Install - It just streams the installation of the internet, using whatever slip-streamed copy of Windows Vista (at the time) with there own apps they wanted.

LIGHT BULB! - Customer computer crashes. BSOD - doesn't want to pay us our $65 an hour. However, we have configured her BIOS and computer to accept a network install ---- She is paying a premium for that (figure an extra $10 a month?) - she should be able to call us and tell us - i want to reinstall my copy of windows with my data... over the network... (Granted, not all Desktops/Laptops support this, but a vast majority of new ones do. and some old ones can be MADE too.. (RARE!)) Interesting idea - food for thought, dont know how to implement it, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be done right?!

In any regards - I may be stupid in doing this, i might now. You might Emulate what we have done. OR, you might walk away from this with a few new ideas in your head.

Tony_Scarpelli
07-19-2011, 06:50 AM
Great Idea.

I have talked to a few techs who have done some form of this. But they bought prepared packages which were $$$.

The biggest advantage is that if your client has a failure they can come in person to pickup a DVD of their backup rather than taking days to download it over the internet.

I had a lawyer client after 72 hrs still only had 30% of her data restored.

cmonova
07-19-2011, 01:22 PM
Stupid is not the word that comes to mind after reading this...What does is profit and thought process....

I ran Vembu for a few years and did my own setup pretty much like you are doing now. Everything you are saying makes total sense and I have no doubt will work for you as it did for me.

I think the part that got me was the "Employees: Me, Myself, and I - My wife, and a part-time tech who comes in occassionaly"....I was in the same boat but have two full time employees. Yet, if we went away for say a few days here or there or even a week no matter what my mind was always on those backups. Why I have no idea, they worked, they worked all the time, and they never really gave any problem.

I think in my mind it was the "what-if" that killed it. After a few years I realized I could not deal with thinking about these things on a daily basis. Since then ditched my "own" setup and went with a provider that does online and the profit is at least as much as when I did it myself but the difference is in my mind I don't think about them anymore.

But, again...I commend you on this project...very nice.

Paul Rodgers
07-19-2011, 01:46 PM
Great Idea.

I have talked to a few techs who have done some form of this. But they bought prepared packages which were $$$.

The biggest advantage is that if your client has a failure they can come in person to pickup a DVD of their backup rather than taking days to download it over the internet.

I had a lawyer client after 72 hrs still only had 30% of her data restored.

With my setup through intronis I can use the software to also do local backups in addition to the cloud solution. Plus I can get the hardware sale and charge extra for this option. I have a HIPPA and SAS 70 compliant service without the management headaches of an in house system.

jeubank
07-19-2011, 03:57 PM
I just started the service, and so far we havent had any problems. I dont give it a whole lot of thought with the exception of adding to the service - say a network install.

It really just acts like Network Attached Storage, and is relatively simple. The scripts were written so that the customer's data backups without them having to worry, which was the most complex thing about the whole set-up.

We looked out software that does back-up, and decided to just have our own program do it.

BigpappaJ
07-19-2011, 05:48 PM
Your lightbulb idea, while it sounds good, unfortunately can't be done. The only way to do any kind of network install of an OS is through PXE booting... which requires a network server to accept requests, provide DHCP, etc...

Being able to do this over the internet would be pretty sweet, and I'm sure one day we will be able to... but for now, as far as I am aware, it cannot be done :(

The rest sounds pretty good though :)

jeubank
07-19-2011, 06:47 PM
Your lightbulb idea, while it sounds good, unfortunately can't be done. The only way to do any kind of network install of an OS is through PXE booting... which requires a network server to accept requests, provide DHCP, etc...

Being able to do this over the internet would be pretty sweet, and I'm sure one day we will be able to... but for now, as far as I am aware, it cannot be done :(

The rest sounds pretty good though :)

Why cant we setup our own network server / PXE boot it? :)

never say cant. Cant doesnt exist.

BigpappaJ
07-19-2011, 07:15 PM
Why cant we setup our own network server / PXE boot it? :)

never say cant. Cant doesn't exist.

Haha, well I suppose you could... but would the underground wiring/wireless network to each of your customers houses be worth it :P haha

ATTech
07-19-2011, 07:31 PM
Your lightbulb idea, while it sounds good, unfortunately can't be done. The only way to do any kind of network install of an OS is through PXE booting... which requires a network server to accept requests, provide DHCP, etc...

Being able to do this over the internet would be pretty sweet, and I'm sure one day we will be able to... but for now, as far as I am aware, it cannot be done :(

The rest sounds pretty good though :)

You could always build a custom PE environment that connects to your server and pulls the image via FTP. You can put the PE environment on a separate partition and show the customer how to boot from it if they need the help. Essentially, it becomes an "Online Recovery Partition"

Paul Rodgers
07-19-2011, 08:14 PM
Cough VPN cough.

Filler

jeubank
07-19-2011, 08:25 PM
Cough VPN cough.

Filler

:eek: nice idea --- FILLER

FCONE
07-20-2011, 01:10 AM
I looked into doing hosted backups and my suggestion would be the same advice folks gave me... Talk to your lawyer and your insurance company.

There is a significant amount of liability involved in having your clients data at a remote location.

Paul Rodgers
07-20-2011, 01:23 AM
:eek: nice idea --- FILLER

Thanks. I have been following your other threads and you have some great ideas.

ProTech-MN
07-21-2011, 02:19 AM
I looked into doing hosted backups and my suggestion would be the same advice folks gave me... Talk to your lawyer and your insurance company.

There is a significant amount of liability involved in having your clients data at a remote location.

Exactly... and nowhere did I see anything related to security in the OP's design.

-Randy

jeubank
07-21-2011, 02:59 AM
Exactly... and nowhere did I see anything related to security in the OP's design.

-Randy

I figured I wouldnt have had to - understand that file zilla (which is what it is based off of) supports AES encryption - even though it would be highly unlikely in the event of a neighbor packet sniffer.

In terms of liability - you think other companies dont share liabilities? the "Dedicated" Backup services. Do they risk less? I think not. You have to accept some risk, or you get no reward.

Update - We have netted 9 customers as of today! They love it :)

ProTech-MN
07-21-2011, 03:16 PM
I figured I wouldnt have had to - understand that file zilla (which is what it is based off of) supports AES encryption - even though it would be highly unlikely in the event of a neighbor packet sniffer.

In terms of liability - you think other companies dont share liabilities? the "Dedicated" Backup services. Do they risk less? I think not. You have to accept some risk, or you get no reward.

Update - We have netted 9 customers as of today! They love it :)

I am aware of FileZilla's ability to utilize AES encryption for transmissions, are you actually using it? Also understand that there's a lot more to security than just the transmission...

Is the customers data encrypted on your server? Is it completely isolated from other users data? What type of controls are in place to control or limit physical access to the systems or customer's data within your office/home? How do you audit access to the data? Is all of this documented and communicated to the customers? Do you have adequate insurance to cover potential losses?

Look, I'm not trying to diminish your efforts or desire to do this... that's all good and fine. In fact, I applaud your efforts and it's obvious you've put a lot of thought and work into making it work. I'm just trying to offer up some important considerations to CYA. I've witnessed first hand a local company do something similar - disaster struck and he lost the customer's data - 2 lawsuits later, he was out of business... in his case, his shop was broken into and the server (and it's local backup) were stolen.

Anyway, I'm just trying to impress that there should be more thought given to the security and how to protect yourself from any number of "what if" scenarios..

-Randy

oldtech
07-21-2011, 03:17 PM
[QUOTE=jeubank;228921]I figured I wouldnt have had to - understand that file zilla (which is what it is based off of) supports AES encryption - even though it would be highly unlikely in the event of a neighbor packet sniffer.

I don't think that the encrypted transmission of packets is the only or primary security concern - the client's data is not encrypted prior to transmission nor while it is being stored on your server.

If I missed security measures in your description somewhere then you don't have a concern but, if you have business clients,you can and probably are causing unintended violations of HIPAA for healthcare and/or the new Credit Card Processing laws.

If you are just backing up Aunt Sadie and her needlework patterns - no need to worry.

Filezilla is vulnerable to several publicized exploits BTW.

I would echo others in the advise to have good liability insurance.

jeubank
07-21-2011, 05:50 PM
aahhh, now I understand where you are coming from.


A. we do utilize AED encryption during the transmission.

The Files are not encrypted on our systems - they are running a Linux Debian Distro. Currently Folder Password Protection is utilized. The user can select a shortcut on there desktop which downloads all there files, or browse there files to download selectively.

We have $1 Mill liability insurance (about $46/mo if i remember) and we also have $1 Mil value Bonding.

We may have to look into what sort of Encryption we want to use on our servers.

rsarceno
07-21-2011, 06:09 PM
We then customized FileZilla (Open-source! love it) attached to a script that we wrote to pull all critical system files, User documents, etc to upload to that users FTP account with our system's in the office. We offer this service for $35 per month and no GB Limit (Our customers arent backing up Videos or anything). We guarantee the data and retrieval.


I'm sure your aware about your competition. Beside the security, virus and legal issue mention by others, how can you justify $35 monthly where other like CrashPlan charge $3 monthly unlimited for one computer and $6 monthly unlimited for 10 computers. They are operating using SANS technology with disaster recovery site, dual internet connection, virus protection, multiple backup revision, monitored 24x7 and more. They have service support like Cisco 24x7 that guaranteeing a response time within 24 hrs.

Even Mozypro for data center charge less than $35 which is use and trusted by government agency.

As far as security, you also need to factor if someone break in and steal your server.

Also another issue is "Open Files". Can you guarantee all data files are backup. I been seeing a lot of runtine SQL on home computer where normally a regular backup failed. Easily fixed with T-script but what about other applications.

Good Luck

Roel
__________________________________________________ ______
Sarceno Network Consulting
http://www.snccomputerrepair.com/

FCONE
07-21-2011, 06:17 PM
I can see where he could charge more for less and still bring in clients. Many clients are more willing to deal with a local company they know than someone national. We presently have a provider we resell that is EXPENSIVE but a few clients use them for one reason: We can pick up a HDD with last night's backup in 30 min from making then aware we need it.

colonydata
07-21-2011, 06:24 PM
Why cant we setup our own network server / PXE boot it? :)

never say cant. Cant doesnt exist.

actually Google Internet Recovery and see what apple is doing in Mac OSX Lion.

rsarceno
07-21-2011, 06:37 PM
I can see where he could charge more for less and still bring in clients. Many clients are more willing to deal with a local company they know than someone national. We presently have a provider we resell that is EXPENSIVE but a few clients use them for one reason: We can pick up a HDD with last night's backup in 30 min from making then aware we need it.

I agree, I'm working with a professional marketing firm for my flyer which cost a bit more but they are local.

If I can pay $3 or $6, I don't think I would exceed $10 or $15 just to get local support. Similar situation, people are switching form Local phone carrier to Magic Jack or Vonage because it's cheaper.

This situation is also a bit different. Where talking backup. If done correctly, I will first restore using onsite before offsite backup. How often do you think you will need to do a restore that benefit a local support.

Roel
__________________________________________________ ______
Sarceno Network Consulting
http://www.snccomputerrepair.com/

ProTech-MN
07-21-2011, 07:33 PM
We have $1 Mill liability insurance (about $46/mo if i remember) and we also have $1 Mil value Bonding.

And what do you have Errors & Omissions insurance... liability insurance doesn't typically cover data loss....

-Randy

jeubank
07-21-2011, 08:11 PM
Our insurance company / underwriter customized our Insurance policy to include hardware, intellectual property, and data loss - however, the contract is about 8 pages, and i'll have to go through it to be sure.

Paul Rodgers
07-22-2011, 12:10 AM
Our insurance company / underwriter customized our Insurance policy to include hardware, intellectual property, and data loss - however, the contract is about 8 pages, and i'll have to go through it to be sure.

Also have them sign a contract that does not hold you liable for loss and that any damages shall not exceed what they have paid you for the service.