SkyKick Automates Office 365 Migration for VARs

Startup SkyKick  announced Tuesday an application suite that automates the migration to Microsoft Office 365, easing the process for VARs, systems integrators, MSPs and other channel partners selling the software giant’s cloud-based office productivity suite small and medium businesses.

The SkyKick Application Suite helps partners manage all the steps of a migration project including the sales, planning, migration and on-site phases through a cloud-based project management system. This is in contrast to most migration tools, which focus on moving server-side data — just one step of the process.

SkyKick takes what has traditionally been a two- to six-week IT services project and makes it more transactional and scalable,” said Evan Richman, co-CEO of SkyKick. “Any Microsoft partner can easily and profitably move their SMB customers to Office 365, giving SMBs  a great experience at a great value.”

By automating the entire process, SkyKick also will help to scale partners’ cloud practices by improving sales velocity, reducing project risk and complexity, simplifying project management, he said.

To do this, co-CEO Todd Schwartz explained that SkyKick has automated hundreds of technical project tasks while accounting for differences among customers’ environments and their email systems — of which there are thousands. “We built a powerful engine under the hood, and an elegant interface on topkind of like search,” he said.

The interface is so simple that even partners who do not have experience with Office 365 or email migrations can use it to successfully migrate customers, Schwartz said.

This has been born out in real-world trials. During the past year of beta testing, SkyKick Application Suite has been used to move thousands of SMBs to Office 365. In the last month, the company moved to an open beta and has signed hundreds of partners, Schwartz said.

One of those partners is Thomas Allen, marketing manager at CyberStreams, an IT solutions provider based in Seattle. Allen said his company partnered with SkyKick in hopes of scaling its Office 365 practice. “Goal achieved,” he said. “SkyKick allowed us to simplify our migration model, completing more migrations with less risk of error and at less cost to the customer.”

The SkyKick Application Suite has three components:

  • Web Planneran online sales, assessment, planning, configuration and project management application. Web Planner helps partners walk through the sales and planning conversation, reducing a 10-hour exercise to 10-20 minutes, said Schwartz.
  • Migration Syncan online service that moves the customers account and user information; email server data like email, calendar, contacts, aliases, distribution groups and other data, as well as the required DNS settings.  Partners simply push a button to start the sync and it happens in the background.
  • Outlook Assistanta lightweight client app that configures Outlook and moves client-side data. It sends an email requesting the user to click a link to download and app and the app works behind the scenes with the Sync platform to match user settings like folders and groups.

Partners can sign up to be a SkyKick partner and are charged a one-time wholesale rate per mailbox, which is due at the end of the migration. Partners can charge customers as they desire.

Although a startup, SkyKick has found early support; it has raised more than $3.7 million since it started in 2011 and was recognized as a finalist for Microsoft Office 365 Innovation Partner of the Year in 2012.

Founders and co-CEOs Richman and Schwartz — ex-Microsoft employees with experience in enterprise software and online services, respectively — are combining their experience and enthusiasm to pioneer a new category in migration tools that they are calling Migration Project Automation.

Richman explained that today’s migration tools are designed to move data from point A to point B. “That’s just one piece of an IT services project. The work of the partner is more complex,” he said, noting that SkyKick’s technology automates the entire migration project.

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