Backup pros get ‘heroic’ online community

For backup professionals who feel they’re not getting enough from Facebook and LinkedIn, there is now BackupHeroes.com, a social networking platform specificly for the backup and recovery community.

Users can set up their profiles and can contact one another directly for networking opportunities. But the real purpose is the discussion threads, where experts and beginners can ask questions related to their field.

Toronto’s Asigra Inc., a cloud backup and recovery software provider, sponsors the site, but it was created as a “vendor neutral” forum for various professionals with no relation to the company.

Sequentia Environics, a digital strategy firm also based in Toronto, helped build and launch the online community by recruiting members and finding out what kind of material would be important to them.

“We noticed that there was a void in the marketplace,” says Samantha Morris, the site’s community manager. IT professionals who deal with backup, storage and recovery didn’t have a place to share strategic and tactical discussions, she says.

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BackupHeroes.com had its alpha launch earlier this year. The site now has nearly 200 members, about 75 per cent of whom are experts who work in the channel, Morris says. The remaining quarter are enterprise end users, she says.

“Yes, there are other backup related sites out there, but I’ve found them not as useful,” says Gary Aulfinger, chief technology officer at EVS Corp., a backup and recovery solutions provider based in Memphis, Tennessee.

LinkedIn, for example, has an open group for backup professionals, but the discussion threads are not managed in the same way, so it can be difficult to follow the answers to your question.

“You can put out very sophisticated high level questions,” Aulfinger says. “You get a response from a group of people who really understand what that question means,” he says. 

Professionals can start discussions related to backup virtualization and management, security and compliance and data recovery, asking both specific, technical questions and opinion-based ones. 

Refined and specific as the discussions may be, Aulfinger says he still thinks that beginners with questions about backup management can benefit, since users can ask their own questions.

For example, one user asked: “With so much ‘technology’ in the marketplace today that are point solutions in the backup strategy, how does one make the decision of whether to offload backup/recovery to a service provider or keep things in house?”

Experts from various companies and backgrounds can then put in their two cents on the issue. “Often times there’s a desire to make simple, bold statements, but this is a group that’s sophisticated enough to say ‘here’s a case where it’s different,’” Aulfinger says.

Forum organizers are hoping to steer clear of trolls – or online bullys that quickly ruin discussion threads.
 
“So far the feedback’s been very positive,” Morris says. Several users have already contacted her expressing their gratitude for the site. It’s too soon to tell whether BackupHeroes.com may eventually be sold, she says. “Right now we’re focused on creating a community,” she says.

Right now, BackupHeroes.com is relying on social media marketing and word of mouth to promote itself. While all the members are moderated, it is currently free to sign up.

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