As a supplier, you’ll be used to selling against the competition, but are you really addressing all of buyer’s concerns? No doubt a lot of your time during the sales process will be spent understanding the business and operational requirements of departmental heads, but do you get under the skin of requirements from a business risk and continuity point of view? As buyers become more aware of the risks of the cloud, you’re likely to encounter a closer assessment of your risk management and business continuity strategy.

Here are the top 7 questions being asked of Software as a Service (SaaS) providers around continuity of service. How well would you fare in being able to deal with them and do you have robust strategies in place?

  1. What will happen to my service if you go into administration? Taking the 2e2 example, customers were held at ransom and ordered to pay up £1million to ensure their IT services were uninterrupted. The administrators had to pay 2e2’s critical suppliers to ensure continuation of services, and customers had no other option than to pay if they wanted to keep their IT systems running. As a SaaS provider, can you offer customers protection against this? Third party Escrow services are the best form of protection so you may want to offer this to your customers to ensure they are guaranteed continuity of service without unforeseen and extortionate costs.
  2. What will happen to my data if you go into administration? As above, the insolvency practitioner (IP) will be seeking to claim as much funding as possible to pay off creditors and ensure continuation of services. If all of your customer’s data, running on your systems, is handed over to the IP then they don’t have any means of getting a copy of it unless the IP plays ball. Surely it’s best for the customer to have a copy of their data with an independent provider, that they can access should the worst happen. As their SaaS provider are you offering customers an independent option to reduce their risk?
  3. Where is my data held? Buyers want to know that their data is held in safe locations, due to the highly sensitive nature of it. They’ll be asking questions around the security of your data centres, looking at the physical locations and infrastructure. A site with gates, that has access control, is away from traffic and water is much more appealing than a site that is open to the public on a busy road, backing onto a river for example.
  4. How many copies of my data are held and in what locations? Buyers are looking for multiple copies of their data to be held in locations that are far enough away from each other that they wouldn’t be impacted by the same disaster. But they’re also looking for a copy of their data to be held by an independent third party. Can you offer them this?
  5. What will happen if your datacentre has a disaster? Buyers are aware that datacentres have a lot of customers to recover should they have a disaster. What is your recovery process, do you offer recovery times and guarantees around this? It’s worth getting a fool-proof recovery plan so your customers have clear SLA’s and guarantees to allay their concerns. If you can offer guarantees around availability of business critical systems then you’re sure to have a competitive advantage.
  6. What happens if my service gets a virus? With replication services, there is a danger that a virus will be replicated from the production to the DR system. It’s therefore important to maintain a copy of your customer’s systems that is known to work and has been tested. In an ideal world, you’ll maintain a separate copy of the system that is tested every 24 hours, but not at risk of being over-written.
  7. What will happen to my service if you have a DDOS attack? Buyers are looking for you to demonstrate that they will be protected against this. Whether this is done by buying in tools or software, or whether there is another platform on standby that can be used in such eventuality, can you guarantee protection against such a scenario? DDOS attacks can render a whole data centre useless for hours, or even days so they can have a big impact to lots of customers at the same time. Would you want to run the risk of every customer losing access to your solution at the same time?

All of these concerns that buyers have offer you, as a SaaS provider, an opportunity to gain competitive advantage if handled in the right way. If you address these concerns then you may just give prospects a reason to choose you over your less-concerned competitors. If you’d like to speak to Plan B about how a partnership can offer customers better protection for your cloud solution then please contact us.

Further reading: SaaS provider? Improve competitive advantage with Cloud Protector