Partner Spotlight: Copeland Buhl – Beyond IT Advisors

As Beyond IT Advisors, a division of Copeland Buhl, has seen, sometimes the value of having SkyKick Cloud Backup in place is clearest when it’s not in place. In fact, it wasn’t long after they had moved one of their customers to Office 365 that this customer regretted saying “no” to SkyKick Cloud Backup. A user had left, and someone had deleted this person’s mailbox. They thought they weren’t going to need anything from it. They were wrong—they needed nearly all of it!

“Doing a restore from Microsoft’s backup was a brutal task for them,” says Brent Goedel, IT Manager at Beyond IT Advisors. “There was no easy way to do this. Instead of just a few clicks, like it would be with SkyKick, they literally had to go in, click, right click and restore each email individually.”

Needless to say, today Beyond IT Advisors shares this story when explaining why they now require SkyKick backup for all of their Office 365 customers. This way when customers call, filled with anxiety because something important was deleted, Beyond IT Advisors can quickly go in and restore the missing item right back to where it had been.

A one-stop shop for small- and medium-sized businesses

While Minneapolis-based Copeland Buhl is first and foremost a CPA firm, its technology division, Beyond IT Advisors, provides a full range of IT services. By handling both accounting and technology they are able to develop very tight-knit relationships with their customers, and ensure their customers’ systems are working synergistically to meet business needs.

On the IT side they implement and manage innovative technology solutions, protect client data, maximize uptime, share their deep knowledge of the best IT systems and more. They have a growing security consulting practice, and do a lot of work in the Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) market. “Our ability to exceed our customers’ expectations is really what sets us apart,” shares Aaron Thomas, Partner and Department Head.

A gradual move to the cloud

Beyond IT Advisors started to embrace Office 365 and the cloud about four or five years ago, when Microsoft killed its SBS product. “We had all these customers on SBS servers,” explains Aaron, “and no cost-effective place to go with their email other than Office 365.” Today about 80 to 85% of their customers have migrated their email away from on-premises systems to Office 365.

Moving to the cloud has presented new challenges and opportunities for Beyond IT Advisors. Although this change has reduced their consulting hours, it has replaced variable revenue streams with guaranteed revenue streams…and expanded their business in new ways.

“The cloud gives us more arsenal,” says Brent. “We’ve always handled servers, desktops, things like that. Now we have numerous cloud-based offerings as well, including migrations, backup solutions, our own hosted cloud environment, full-on infrastructure as a service, and more. We have more options to offer our clients.”

Office 365 has also made their lives easier as an IT consulting firm. “With Office 365 there’s no downtime,” Brent points out. “Before Office 365 there was always patching and maintenance to do on the Exchange server to try to keep those environments up and running 24/7. Now Microsoft has the redundancy almost perfected. We’ve never had any downtime with Office 365.”

“With Office 365 we no longer have to remote into several different servers in order to add or delete users,” adds Brent. “Instead we have a single pane of glass and make changes for all of our clients at one portal. It’s a time saver.”

Ingram Micro recommended SkyKick migration and backup

When Beyond IT Advisors first saw that recovering from one of Microsoft’s backups was quite tedious, Ingram Micro recommended they take a look at SkyKick’s backup and migration products. Although Beyond IT Advisors has always been a Carbonite backup provider, Carbonite did not offer a solution for Office 365.

“At the time we were about to do a migration,” recalls Aaron, “so we decided to give the SkyKick Migration Suite a test run. We had done previous migrations by following Microsoft’s instructions, and no two migrations from Exchange to Office 365 went the same.

“That first migration with SkyKick went without a hitch, so we decided to continue on with it. Once that customer was up and running in the cloud we also tested SkyKick’s Cloud Backup, especially the restores. With SkyKick it was just point, click and the restore was done. SkyKick also had other options, such as SharePoint restore. With SkyKick you can do granular restores of calendars, notes, and tasks, which is what we had been used to with Carbonite and on-premises Exchange.”

Beyond IT Advisors regularly sees the difference SkyKick makes

One thing that is unique about Beyond IT Advisors is that many of its customers are on either POP3 systems or extremely old Exchange servers that are at the end of their life. Because SkyKick doesn’t support some of these legacy scenarios, must do the migration manually, without the benefits of the SkyKick Migration Suite. The difference between the two processes is significant.

In these situations “the hours go way up,” notes Brent. “The manual process we have to go through takes much longer.”

“We also have to do a lot more leg work before we can go live,” adds Aaron, “With SkyKick they send all these email to the end users, and give you a dashboard to see what’s happening. Without SkyKick it’s more labor intensive and higher risk.”

The key to sales success: Show the value

One of the keys to Beyond IT Advisors’ success with selling Office 365 and the SkyKick Migration and Backup tools has been to show the value. “We start by doing an evaluation of where they’re currently at and where they want to go,” states Brent. “Then we say, ‘here’s the A to Z path of how we’ll get you there.’ That builds a lot of credibility for us. Many others come in just trying to sell Office 365, without explaining why they need this product. We show them that they need Office 365 for this reason, this reason, and this reason. We explain that SkyKick lets us do the migration more efficiently and reliably. We talk about the reasons why backups are vital. We show them that for just a small monthly bill they will get huge value.”

The availability of the SkyKick bundles adds to this value, especially because it enables backup to be billed as a monthly expense. Out in the field Beyond IT Advisors sees that most companies strongly prefer a relatively small monthly bill to a very large one-time expense.

SkyKick helps close sales

Another benefit of using the SkyKick Migration Suite is that it has given Beyond IT Advisors the confidence to take on bigger migration projects. Whereas before a “large” customer would be 25 users, now they are comfortably taking on migrations with several hundred users. “SkyKick reduces our costs to do these migrations,” Brent observes.

Being able to confidently say that a migration will go well is very helpful. “To be able to walk in and then get a customer migrated to Office 365 within 30 days is very impressive,” Aaron relates, “and makes them very happy about what we can do for them from a cloud perspective.”

Their advice to other Partners: Use SkyKick Migration Suite whenever possible, and make SkyKick backup a requirement for all Office 365 implementations. If you have to, just roll it into the monthly Office 365 subscription that you’re selling. “It’s not that much more expensive to also get backup in there,” says Brent, “but it’s critical to have from a support standpoint.”