Veeam is becoming a very compelling enterprise product while managing to hold on to its SMB base. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s been a bumpy ride, but it’s starting to come together nicely.
While I have quibbles with the overall product portfolio, and I’m finding it a little tricky to keep the relationship between all the different bits straight in my mind (Is Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 part of Veeam Backup Essentials? What’s the difference between Veeam Availability Orchestrator and Veeam Availability Suite?) there was one item of Veeam’s CFD8 presentation that really stuck out to me: The Pricing Estimator in Veeam Backup for AWS.
It stuck out because I am a spreadsheet nerd and pricing signals and incentive structures speak to me on a cellular level.
It’s a sickness, but at least I know it, right?
Before I dive into why the pricing estimator (and these sorts of cost/pricing things excite the electrons in my mitochondria) I want to take a small detour via an explanation of Veeam’s go-to-market structure and why their approach to SaaS has implications for how this pricing estimator thing works.
No Veeam SaaS
Unlike some competitors, Veeam doesn’t sell a SaaS version of its products directly to customers. You can’t go to the Veeam website and buy some Veeam SaaS because Veeam is a 100% channel company. Veeam sells via channel partners, so if it moved to a direct-sales thing like a SaaS, that would undercut the people it makes all its money with. That would annoy them a lot.
This isn’t the same as not having a SaaS product at all, it just means Veeam doesn’t run a SaaS; its channel partners do. Veeam builds a SaaS product as a white-labellable thing that channel partners can host and run for their customers, and both of them make money.
What Veeam makes is a SaaS-in-a-Box.
Changing to sell a SaaS directly would require a major change to Veeam’s whole sales mechanism and would be a major departure from the way the company runs things. It’s not impossible, but if Veeam does do this it’ll only be because large enterprise organisations want to buy directly from Veeam and Veeam can’t figure out a way to funnel those sales through partners like the global systems integrators that it is actively working to get closer to.
I think this is extremely unlikely to happen, and I’ve not seen evidence to suggest Veeam is looking at changing this. Veeam CEO Bill Largeant did tell me Veeam might change its go-to-market strategy to split out the national or large accounts from everything else,
“It may split at the got-to-market strategy level soon, not the product offering. I think for the product offering we’ve got great input from our solutions architects and our product managers to try to keep the product coming up together as one,” Largeant said.
Billing as Key Feature
Billing needs to be included in Veeam’s SaaS-in-a-Box so that MSPs can charge customers money for their Veeam-powered backup-and recovery SaaS. The ability to get customers to pay you is key functionality for a service like this.
If the vendor’s product doesn’t include some kind of pricing/billing telemetry the MSPs would have to build one themselves. They tend to have billing engines already (ManageEngine and ConnectWise are popular) so they want something that can feed consumption information to the billing engine so the right invoices get generated.
This all means that pricing functionality basically has to exist inside Veeam’s SaaS product anyway, so adding a price estimator and analysis functionality is a fairly straightforward extension. Right now the inputs to the estimator come from public website information about the current prices, retrieved periodically and cached inside the tool so you’re not scraping the AWS pricing page on every refresh.
Why Is Pricing Information Important?
Knowing roughly what something is going to cost influences what you do. By providing information about what the cost of a backup policy will be, you can figure out if the data is worth protecting at that level, or if maybe a cheaper approach is acceptable.
Now, this will require humans to make a risk assessment, and we know that humans are breathtakingly terrible at assessing risk, but this isn’t a new problem. Right now the cost of any individual backup policy design decision is a complete mystery. More closely aligning the pricing signal to the design decision should, at least in theory, enable more informed decision making.
It creates the potential for making company policy design much simpler: just set a budget and let the data owner sort it out. It helps turn “how much should we spend keeping this data protected” into a business decision rather than a technical decision, and helps the backup admins drop the responsibility for making this decision firmly into the lap of the business people who should have been on the hook for this all along. It should hasten the move from one-off projects with an implementation budget and no maintenance budget to ongoing products that are looked after by people who care about their success.
Ideally, if important data is lost because some middle manager decided to spend their budget on beanbags and designer lamps instead of backing up the inventory database, that manager will no longer be able to hide from accountability as easily.
Look, it’s a nice dream.