By Jeff Erramouspe, Chief Revenue Officer, Spanning
Prior to joining Spanning Cloud Apps full time last month I was contracted by CEO Charlie Wood to conduct some market research on Spanning’s behalf. As part of my research, I spoke to multiple Spanning Backup customers all of whom had larger Google Apps installations with user counts in at least three digits.
My key question to them: “What business problem are you trying to solve by backing up your Google Apps data?”
Honestly, I expected to know the answer – it was about protecting their data; making sure it was available to support their business operations. And in general, that is what I heard. But as we talked further, there was an undercurrent I hadn’t expected. Virtually every person I interviewed made the same analogy:
“Spanning Backup is to Google Apps what tape backup was to on-premise systems.”
These customers were moving to the cloud from traditional in-house IT systems bringing along with them their traditional IT best practices. And one of those best practices is to ensure there is always a copy of their data from which they can easily restore. Google protects them from the catastrophic things that can go wrong, but they felt exposed to the smaller threats, like disgruntled employees, malicious hackers and plain old user error. To eliminate this exposure, they bought Spanning Backup.
My work on this project convinced me of the tremendous opportunity facing Spanning. With a great product, huge market, not to mention world-class people, I was thrilled when Charlie asked me to join the team to run sales and marketing. I couldn’t wait to start telling the world about Spanning Backup. It was obvious that every Google Apps administrator would want to buy it.
Obvious, that is, until my third week on the job.
Our marketing manager and I were meeting with a partner to discuss an advertising program we were running. Unfortunately, the members of their IT community were not responding to our message. So we asked them: “Why is this offer for Spanning Backup not compelling for you?”
The answer made my head hurt.
“Why would I ever need to backup my Google Apps data? Google does that for me.”
Wait, what?? How can one group of IT professionals think Spanning Backup is indispensible, while another couldn’t care less if it existed?
Bottom line: it’s a matter of demographics – an IT generation gap, if you will. In that gap are some important lessons.
The first group, call them “Old Pros”, were primarily in larger companies moving to the cloud to become more flexible and cost effective. But their experiences told them to replicate their data protection procedures as closely as possible. They have been through the ringer and had their data compromised, or know someone who has. They understand the consequences.
The second group, call them “Young Guns”, were primarily in smaller companies, sometimes with fewer than ten employees. Flexibility and cost effectiveness is their mantra. Many of these companies have only used the cloud. Furthermore, they all grew up online, storing their photos, music and other files in the cloud. Lost files might cost them some time, but never much money. It just isn’t a big deal.
This isn’t to say the Old Pros are stodgy or conservative in their approach (nor are they necessarily “old” – just experienced). They are forward thinking and creative. Nor am I suggesting that the Young Guns are devoid of process, or that they lack a passion for best practices. They are educated, smart and focused on using IT to drive their businesses. But when it comes to data protection, there is definitely a dichotomy.
So who’s right? The Old Pros would say the Young Guns are careless. The Young Guns would say the Old Pros are overly cautious. Which path do you choose?
Moving to the cloud doesn’t mean you can leave data protection best practices behind. With business critical data, caution is the correct path. And if you believe the data in Google Apps isn’t business critical, think about how much business is conducted via email and how often you’re collaborating on business plans on Google Drive. Not being able to recover files or messages from an error or malicious act seems almost derelict.
You need to move to the cloud – not doing so is stupid. But when it comes to protecting your cloud data, it’s time to start acting like an Old Pro.