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Old 07-19-2011, 01:55 AM
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Default Expanding Revenues: Company Controlled Backup Systems

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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:50 AM
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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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:22 PM
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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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:46 PM
Paul Rodgers Paul Rodgers is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony_Scarpelli View Post
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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:57 PM
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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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:48 PM
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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
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigpappaJ View Post
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.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeubank View Post
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
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigpappaJ View Post
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"
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:14 PM
Paul Rodgers Paul Rodgers is offline
 
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Cough VPN cough.

Filler
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