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Startup SkyKick Brings Migration Automation To Office 365

SkyKick estimates a typical migration to Office 365 might take 40 hours of a solution provider's time. That can be reduced down to a couple of hours with the company's new suite, said executives.

SkyKick, a Seattle-based startup, has launched the SkyKick Application Suite, a hosted migration project automation platform to help solution providers move SMB customers to Microsoft Office 365.

SkyKick was founded in 2011, and its product just came out of beta about a month ago, said co-CEOs and co-founders Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz. To date, the company has secured about $3.7 million in funding.

The SkyKick suite includes everything from an analysis of the customer's environment to migration to final reporting, according to the company. Three products make up the suite: Web Planner, Migration Sync and Outlook Assistant to migrate customers from almost any legacy email platform to Office 365, they said.

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They estimate that a typical migration to Office 365 for a 25-to-50-person company might take 40 hours of a solution provider's time. That can be reduced down to a couple of hours at the most using SkyKick, they said.

"Our goal is to help customers with the whole project, not just move the data," Richman told CRN. "It's a cloud-based migration automation solution that helps with all phases: selling, planning, project management, migration. We wanted to create the highest-quality experience for partners."

The act of migrating email to Office 365 could include over 200 technical tasks to get it done, which has been a barrier of entry for many channel partners without the necessary skills, Richman said.

"Migrations are finicky. The standard deviation is quite wide, depending on how the variables play out. When you add up the steps, you find it's a fairly complex project that requires a lot of capabilities," he said.

Experienced cloud VARs as well as those that are just starting to kick the cloud tires can benefit from SkyKick, Richman said.

"We want to help the new guys get into the game easily by removing the investment, but we want to help the experienced guys with sales too," he said.

Thomas Allen, marketing manager at CyberStreams, a Bellevue, Wash.-based solution provider, said SkyKick allows his company to better leverage the time of its technicians and eliminates many variable risks.

"To give you an example, when we did Office 365 migrations, the process of quoting a migration really depended on the experience of the engineer that was available and other things. A typical estimate was X to 2X. That's a huge swing for a business owner, and it was preventing us from closing deals," Allen said.

SkyKick not only allowed CyberStreams to offer a more accurate quote, it allowed the VAR to lower its quotes because its own costs were lower.

"Now they're at 0.8X," Allen said. "Their process gives us a clearer discovery phase and streamlines the conversation. We're just as profitable as we were before, and we're doing a ton more volume," Allen said.

CyberStreams has built a successful practice using Microsoft Exchange migrations as a "gateway drug" for bigger and more lucrative projects, Allen said. Having SkyKick has accelerated that process, he said.

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The solution provider uses SkyKick on about 95 percent of Exchange migrations now, CyberStreams' Allen said

"Once we have migrated an Exchange server, we want to do other things, more high-value SharePoint consulting, teams to do custom development work, help desk contracts," Allen said. "We've doubled the volume of net new clients [to Office 365]."

There is no certification or any real training involved to use SkyKick, SkyKick's Richman said. Solution providers register online and can begin a project right away.

The first step is a discovery of the email platform and domain registrar, as well as a list of all current email boxes residing in the system.

"A partner can go in side by side with a customer in the mailbox discovery phase to help them accelerate the sales process. It's really a pre-emptive close for consulting," Richman said. "We often hear from partners that customers say this is the first time they've seen their email [environment] in one place. They didn't realize this person was still in the system. It's an opportunity to clean up the environment as well."

SkyKick executives wouldn't detail solution provider pricing for the suite because of several variables, but they said it's inexpensive enough that most VARs don't have issues buying it to use in their projects.

Even managed service providers that embed migration costs into a monthly bill over a one- or two-year period haven't complained about the up-front cost, Schwartz said.

"That hasn't been an issue. Our price point relative to their overall offering is a great value. The cash flow issue isn't there for the way most MSPs charge their customers," SkyKick's Schwartz said.

PUBLISHED APRIL 24, 2013

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