IT-Lifeline, a 15-person managed services provider (MSP), seems to have serious momentum delivering enterprise-class disaster recovery services to regional banks and credit unions. The company serves about 115 customers at the moment, but is also offering its BLACKCLOUD private cloud solution to peer MSPs. Launched about 10 years ago, IT-Lifeline has decided that 100 percent of the company's efforts going forward will be through partners.

"We won't turn away a bank that wants to buy direct," said Matt Gerber, CEO. "But all of our outbound marketing efforts involve partners." Ideal partners are MSPs that already work in the financial services vertical. Most IT-Lifeline engagements involve "thousands of dollars per month" in recurring revenues.

The challenge: Because of heightened regulations from the FDIC, NCUA and FFIEC, banks and credit unions are performing more due diligence both on their internal operations and when selecting an MSP, notes Gerber.

For MSPs, it's no longer good enough to say your data centers comply with SSAE 16 or that you offer encryption, he adds Gerber. "Those are the minimum bets you need to make just to get a seat at the table," he added. "You need to also show you're doing all the other things examiners are looking for. Are you assessing risks properly? Can the bank and the MSP establish an ongoing cadence?"

Private Cloud Services

With thought thoughts in mind, IT-Lifeline is now passing its disaster recovery services through MSPs to end-customers. BlackCloud is aprivate recovery cloud platform that IT-Lifeline runs. For larger institutions -- say 80TB to 100TB datasets -- IT-Lifeline allows the customer to take any standard array (NetApp, EMC, IBM, etc.), co-locate it in IT-Lifeline's facilities, and also still recover using BlackCloud.

IT-Lifeline received angel funding in 2005. The business turned cash-positive about three years ago and continues to grow organically. For 2013, Gerber is seeking national-level partnerships while also promoting geographic expansion for existing relationships. Among the pending deals: A major engagement with a large credit union in the east coast.