SEACOM launched Africa’s first broadband submarine cable system along the continent’s Eastern and Southern coasts in 2009 and is now a leading partner for African businesses, network carriers, and service providers.
Through its ownership of Africa’s most extensive ICT data infrastructure – including multiple subsea cables and a resilient, continent-wide IP-MPLS network – SEACOM provides a full suite of flexible, scalable and high-quality communications and cloud solutions that enable the growth of the continent’s economy.
As Chief Information Officer at SEACOM, Marius Burger is responsible for information technology infrastructure, systems, processes and data as well as cloud services.
Before being accepted as a partner of one of Africa’s largest IT providers, Marius needs to know the company is a perfect fit - both for SEACOM and their customers.
When it comes to the protection and recovery of data, there are several reasons why Redstor is the preferred choice for managed service providers, but Marius believes the main appeal is an unerring ability to combine a multi-faceted service with supreme simplicity.
He said: “Redstor houses an enormous amount of capability and power when it comes to data management.
When solutions of this magnitude are presented to an enterprise, they are often convoluted in terms of their scoping, complex in terms of their implementation and overwhelming in terms of their commercial modelling.
Redstor has managed to do what many others overlook – consider customer experience above all else.
The result is an offering that is easy to understand, and a model which makes it easy to scope, present, and implement. This is what cloud-first should look like.
Considering other vendors might require the provisioning of physical hardware, either by the provider or by the end customer itself, Redstor is perfectly positioned for the MSP.
We allow the experts, Redstor, to worry about the hardware, the platform, and the software, and we concern ourselves only with managing our customers.”
High retention of customers keen to continue receiving Redstor via SEACOM
SEACOM have no problem retaining customers whose data management needs are being addressed by Redstor.
Marius said: “Customer retention statistics aside, this is further made evident by the proof of concept trials that Redstor have assisted us in running for clients that would like to test the platform before committing to it.
After seeing it in action, selecting Redstor as their data management solution of choice and leveraging SEACOM as their service provider is often a no-brainer.
Customers love the ease of use, with a single pane to manage all backups and archives across their entire data landscape. This allows them to identify any critical data that could have slipped through the cracks.
They also like that the restore platform supports reporting that can be scheduled and distributed, while admin role-based access can be granted to simplify training and mitigate risk.”
Marius added that Redstor’s pre-sales support to qualify and onboard new customers was invaluable in the early days of the partnership with SEACOM.
He said: “Initially, as we lacked the necessary capabilities within our own teams, the success in what we were able to deliver to our customers largely hinged on this support.
We have also found that Redstor’s pre-sales support lends itself well to the development of knowledge in terms of our own resources.”
SEACOM have also benefitted with assistance in attracting new business.
Marius revealed: “Being experts in the industry, Redstor brings decades of experience to assist our marketing team in appropriately positioning the solution, and provide content that speaks well into the narratives we present in terms of the various initiatives that we run.”
Service provision made easy
With its multi-tenanted capabilities, SaaS delivery model and positioning, Redstor is incredibly simple to deploy and manage as a solution for SEACOM’s customers.
Marius particularly values being able to configure and manage all customers’ data on a single, cloud-based platform along with the ability to deliver backup and recovery, DR and archiving solutions rapidly - without the need to dispatch technical personnel to site.
He said: “Redstor’s management tools, coupled with its multi-tenant capabilities, make it considerably easier to manage our customers’ data.
By logging into the control centre, we are able to manage all of our customers without difficulty from a single pane of glass. This capability is also extended onto our customers, who are able to obtain a quick view of their data landscape and manage certain aspects of it with the same level of ease.”
The capability to manage data remotely from anywhere on any device is also a major attraction for SEACOM and their customers.
Marius said: “As a cloud-first platform, Redstor allows our technical resources to deploy data management solutions and assist customers at any time regardless of their geographical location.
Likewise, when our customers need to perform their own data management tasks, they can do so from wherever they may be.
For instance, a customer can restore an endpoint, without having to be near the backup source or the endpoint itself. This can literally be done securely from anywhere in the world, as long as the pertinent devices have the necessary connectivity.
The customer is the custodian of their own backup. As well as deciding on data file backup selections or full system recovery, they set scheduled backups and are in full control when they need to recover anything.
The ease of use of Redstor’s management console has meant that our technical staff can now focus more on being an advisor and keeping the client up to date with newly released features as well as future functionality on the roadmap.”
Transparent, predictable pricing appeals to customers
With Redstor, the customer avoids any upfront expenditure or commitment as there are no appliances to buy, install or manage and no licence costs - and there are no egress or ingress charges for anyone to be concerned with.
Charges are based purely on data volume selected - a single price per GB.
Marius insists that a highly simplified commercial model, like Redstor’s, is crucial when it comes to delivering any successful cloud-based solution.
He said: “Complicated charging models, and the need for excessive up-front scoping before being able to provide an estimated view of what the solution may cost often counts against the product.
It forms a barrier to entry that requires unnecessary amounts of engagement and effort to overcome.
Our customers feel at ease when we can define a solution that not only meets their needs but provides reassurance in terms of anticipated costs.”
Single-line item billing makes it easier for SEACOM to invoice customers
SEACOM’s account managers relish the ability to calculate the cost of a solution simply by looking at the amount of front-end data a customer wishes to protect with Redstor.
Marius said: “So often complicated commercial models lead to convoluted invoicing by technology providers. Service providers then end up trying to find clever ways to simplify billing for their end customers. However, this often breaks relationship between what is being sold on the front end vs. what is being billed up-stream, and it becomes far more complex to implement the necessary controls from a returns-authorisation perspective.”
Being able to budget so easily and accurately with Redstor provides revenue assurance.
Marius said: “That makes our commercial and billing teams’ lives easier, and since we offer this same simplified model onto our customers, we make their lives easier too.”
Scale up or down with ease, using pay-as-you-grow model
Marius revealed that Redstor’s simple commercial model has meant that customers often understand the full cost implications of protecting extra data before even making a request.
He said: “We are able to provision additional capacity for our customers at the click of a button as their data needs increase.
Technically it’s seamless and it gives us the power to deliver a pay-as-you-grow model, leveraging Redstor as a solution.
Adding endpoints to any customer’s tenant is also just a matter of installing and configuring the Redstor agent.”
Providing customers with a single solution for backup and recovery, archiving and DR
When it comes to choosing what is best for SEACOM’s customers, Marius always looks for a comprehensive solution.
He said: “The use of multiple vendors and solutions to deliver what is essentially a single data management architecture only serves to muddy the waters.
Tracking issues that arise in such a landscape would also be a nightmare. Having Redstor as a single solution, means that we can enable additional features without revisiting the drawing board.
Redstor’s new insight facility allows us to analyse the customer data environment and help them understand their data growth which could highlight archive possibilities and reduce infrastructure capex considerably for the customer.
So if SEACOM sets up a backup and recovery solution, and the customer then opts for archiving at a later stage, we are able to do this at the click of a button.
The best part is that the enablement of these additional capabilities comes at no additional cost.”
The vital importance of guaranteeing recovery from ransomware with isolated, offsite protection
One of the primary reasons customers seek assistance from SEACOM with their data management needs, revealed Marius, is to address very real concerns about ransomware.
He said: “This is not surprising, given the prevalence of ransomware attacks across the various industries we provide services to.
The extent to which these attacks are able to damage an organisation are all too apparent in the media.”
By keeping customer backups isolated from the live environment, they can't be targeted by hackers or malware authors.
Marius said: “We provide peace of mind in this regard by leveraging Redstor as a solution and helping customers understand how we are able to aid in mitigating these risks.”
With regulation coming into play, Marius stresses that it is imperative that customer data is stored securely, and within the pertinent geographical bounds.
He said: “Data sovereignty is incredibly important, whether our customers know it or not! We try to articulate this to our customers in helping them avoid any issues relating to POPI or GDPR later.
Redstor’s local presence enables us to meet the necessary requirements in this regard.”
The encryption of data at source, in transit and at rest is also crucial, insists Marius.
He said: “SEACOM also provides security solutions to our customers, and fully understands the risks in transmitting and storing data in clear text. We point out the dangers associated with solutions that don’t take the same precautions. With data security such a key concern for Redstor, we can help our customers mitigate these risks.
Our clients understand only too well that quick access to data is vitally important and they really love the fact that they set the encryption key so only their approved staff has access.”