March 16, 2009
Choosing the right offset backup provider
Recently I had an interesting experience that I think is noteworthy. Something worth sharing with my peers and circle of influence.
Last month I had the experience of accidentally backing up 7GB of MP3 data to our offsite data backup provider, i365 (formally eVault). I have been a happy customer for YEARS of their service. It works as intended, and quite frankly I rarely even think about them as it "just works". But I got nailed with a HUGE overage bill that blew away my DR budget. It was not a pretty site. Half a year's budget spent in two months.
I gave them a call to find out what was going on, and their Customer Service technical team was awesome in helping me to identify the culprit. We quickly stopped that folder from being backed up any more, and then created a filter to prevent media file extensions from ever being backed up again. This wasn't a standard web based, email only support option. It was a real, living, breathing geek who knew how their software works. And that is important to me... it let me address the issue in a pretty fast manner and move on to more interesting pursuits.
However, the fact remained that it was an expensive lesson on what NOT to do. I had overages of about $26/GB, which is insanely expensive by today's rates. Then again, it was a plan I was on from over 3 years ago. So I can't really blame them for that.
So I twittered in frustration. And Vlad Mazek over at Own Web Now sent me some information about his offerings, which from a cost perspective is way more inline with what a small business can afford. And ultimately I sent out the following twitter after learning about his services:
Holy cow. OwnWebNow offsite backup appears to be way better for small business than eVault.
Now from a social media perspective that might not mean much. But it had an interesting cascading effect worth noting. It seems management over at Seagate heard about the tweet. And it caused a meeting to be scheduled between myself, my eVault account manager and her director.
We had our conference call this morning. Talk about service! They listened to my concerns, and reviewed my account with them. Being with them for so many years, they wanted to keep my business and wanted to make things right. And from the action items from the meeting, it sounds like they will.
Our data needs have changed. We have doubled the amount of data we need to store offsite, and being hit with 4x overage charges isn't acceptable. They listened to the pain I have identitifed, and are addressing it with a new plan that is more inline with my needs and expectations. Guess what? It is going to cost me more money. Considerably more money than if I went with Own Web Now's service. However the difference is WORTH it to me, and although I haven't made a final decision yet... I am leaning heavily to stay with them. As a small business owner my loyalty is to my company and its bottom line. However, it is balanced with the costs of good technical support, and great customer service. Something Seagate/i365 has shown me today.
Customers matter. Without them, a software company is nothing. And it seems i365 get that. And it seems they listen to their customers on Twitter. That's just awesome. And that small gesture has probably secured my business for many years to come.
Posted by SilverStr at March 16, 2009 10:53 AM
I'm confused. You say you value your relationship with eVault, but the moment something that might be an improvement comes along you jump right on that and proclaim it to be better. You freely admit the overage charge was completely your fault and you were happy with their response to it, so why would the incident change your feelings about eVault?
After making some noise about it, they find a better plan for you, but you're still tempted by an unproven vendor just because they are cheaper.
That doesn't sound like loyalty or valuing the vendor relationship to me at all. It sounds to me like you are pissed about the overage and are just looking for a better deal by publicly pitting the two vendors against each other.
I guess I wasn't being very clear. Quite frankly, my issue was that I was paying one fee for over 4 years without it ever changing. That has been easy to budget for. Then out of nowhere, I got charged 4 times what I was expecting. With no notice. And no clear indication to why. eVault never reached out to inform me of what happened. There was no alerts or warnings. I just got this huge bill.
Once I found out what was going on, I realized that their new pricing plan wasn't inline with what I had budgeted for. The last contact I had was when we negotiated the contract over 3 years ago. So I decided to look at what my options were. I sent a single tweet to some of my friends asking for options they were using, and OWN stepped up. When I heard their pricing, I was floored. It was definitely a lot less money.
To be clear, Own Web Now is NOT an unproven vendor. They have been providing AhSay based services for some time across many different data centers that that own around the world. I know MANY IT professionals using their services and are quite happy with it. They are more than half the price, and include all the same platform agents. What they lack is the same level of customer service that eVault has. And THAT was the point of the post. Seems you missed that.
There is a different of being "cheap" and "inexpensive". There are lots of fly by night offsite backup providers. I don't consider OWN one one of them. But service matters to me, and I don't mind paying a few dollars more to get it.
I take offense to your tone about loyalty to eVault. I would have taken this up with you privately, but you chose to post anonymously. As I said in the post, my number one priority is to my company. We have a set budget for our DR strategy, and at the time, eVault didn't have a plan that met our needs. So of course I will look at my options. That's just responsible management. However, I never said my feelings changed to the negative on eVault's service. Only that I had an extrodinary experience in how they dealt with the entire situation once they knew a problem existed.
To be clear... until this morning during the call I didn't even know Seagate knew about the tweet. And quite frankly it had no bearing in my analysis of my options. For the record, I am not getting a "better deal". I am getting the same deal you would get if you went and bought from them. What is different is they realize what has happened, are willing to retroactively modify my contract for the new plan (which is more than double in cost) and credit my account the difference based on the overages. This is the customer service I was speaking of.
So in closing, I am sorry you read far more into my post. This isn't about me being pissed (as you so eliquently put it). It's about me being elated with great service by the staff at eVault who went beyond their job function to take care of my needs, when they could have easily lost my business. It wasn't only about price, evident in the fact I am willing to double my budget for offsite backup as part of our DR strategy. It was how they took responsibility for the situation and made sure my needs were looked after.
The only reason I didn't make a final decision before I wrote the post is I want to see it documented officially on paper. If they meet the essence of how I understand they are going to take care of it, I will be renewing for a couple of years by the end of the week.
Now maybe part of the problem is the software you run on your system which does the backup to the offsite service should've warned you that your files were substantially larger than last time. Or displayed the file size and count after backup was complete.
In my business applications I now display the number of records in a few key tables, such as customer and transaction table, on the main menu. This allows for a quick sanity check every time the users run the app. This is also displayed when they go to choose a different data file.