Q&A with Cygnus Systems: An MSP Saving $12,000 Every Month After Leaving Datto
Cygnus Systems is an MSP, solution provider, and Axcient partner that helps plan, implement, and support IT networks. At a recent event with Axcient, the Executive VP of Operations at Cygnus Systems, Craig Issacs, revealed an exciting result of Cygnus Systems moving from Datto to Axcient. Since making the switch, Cygnus Systems is saving $12,000 every month.
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Obviously, those are desirable results – especially in the face of a potential recession, sky-high inflation, wage expansion, and current labor challenges. To learn more, we invited Scott Kube, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Cygnus Systems, to sit with us for more insight. We hope this conversation motivates MSPs to reassess the overall cost of their stack – including soft costs like vendor management requirements, manual tasks vs. automation, solution reliability, ease of use, ticket times, and support. When you add it all up, what’s the real cost of your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solution?
Keep reading to see how Cygnus Systems accomplished these results…
- 50% reduction in total costs
- 70% reduction in ticket count
- 50% + reduction in labor costs
- $12,000 saved every month
Tell us a little about Cygnus Systems.
“We’ve been in business for 34 years, and I’ve been here for the last 10 years. Like many folks who started early on, we were pretty product-centric until a ‘small company’ named Dell came along and forced most people to switch to a service-centric model – which we’ve been doing ever since. We’ve been an MSP for about 20 years, skinned our knees along the way, and have grown in operational maturity working with organizations like Service Leadership and Paul Dipple in terms of benchmarking – which has led us to our current path. We’re certainly not resting on our laurels. We want to continue to move forward and improve, which ultimately led us to Axcient and some of the results we’ve been able to drive.”
>> Download Axcient’s MSP Whitepaper: Reference Architecture and Its Impact on Solution Provider Maturity, Efficiency, and Profitability to learn more about Service Leadership’s principles for achieving operational maturity.
Why did Cygnus Systems start looking for a new BCDR solution?
“We had messed around with different backup solutions for a bit. We had StorageCraft to a NAS and Sonology to a NAS that we tried to piecemeal together but were rather unsuccessful. One of the things that is challenging is we use ConnectWise. Trying to manage the automated backup component with verification on a daily basis – with something as important as backups – we just weren’t able to do that. So that’s when we found Datto and went down that path. We liked the experience, but eventually, the pricing was just pretty high, and then with some of the acquisitions that occurred within the industry – we weren’t crazy about that. So we started searching and found Axcient.”
“We evaluated Axcient for three main reasons. One, our costs were out of control with Datto. Two, Our support hours per month were excessive. And three, we were concerned Datto was not the company it was when we initially engaged with them.”
– Craig Issacs, Executive Vice President of Operations at Cygnus Systems
Describe the migration process switching from Datto to Axcient x360Recover.
“It didn’t happen overnight. We looked at x360Recover, we evaluated it, liked it, had our VP of engineering look at it, and then he put it on our network. He initially did it in a sandbox and kicked the tires, if you will. Once he was comfortable with it, he designed the migration plan with his team and did it.
If Axcient and Datto had been at a comparable cost from a financial perspective, the switch probably would have stretched out over a longer time. But we prioritized it because there were dollar savings and margin to be gained with Axcient. The faster we do this – the faster we trade out the old solution for the new – the more money we’re putting in our pockets at that point.
Of course, our top priority was making it a smooth process for our customers. I know our team worked with the Axcient team, and honestly, it was seamless. We migrated about 40 Datto units, and I didn’t hear one customer complaint, which I think is a tremendous testament to both the Axcient team and our engineers. That’s not easy to execute, so we were glad it went off without a hitch.
We know you’re now saving $12,000 a month with Axcient; what factors have impacted those savings?
“We found that our costs continued to increase with Datto on a couple of different fronts. One, there were the hardware costs within their offering. When you’re doing it from an all-in type of managed services perspective, that just eats at the margins we’re generating from those clients. We also offered it as part of a technology as a service or standalone managed backup solution. So you’re either going to give it up on the margin, or you’re going to have to charge more, which could put you at a competitive disadvantage.”
“Additionally, we were finding that our support hours from the technical side – in terms of engineers having to be involved with ticket resolution and working with Datto – was going up and up. Those soft dollar costs were killing us from a margin perspective.”
– Scott Kube, VP of Sales and Marketing at Cygnus Systems
“We’re pretty rigorous in leveraging ConnectWise and using tickets to determine where our time is being spent. But, at the end of the day, you only have so much of it, and that’s money. Those are really the two big costs that we saw eating into margins.”
What were the issues demanding so much of your technician’s time?
“There were issues in terms of finding that the backup wasn’t completed, that there were some errors with the backup. When we’re going with a managed service vendor, you want that stuff to be taken care of. I mean, that’s the idea. It’s not a managed service if our team has to manage it and fix it. The more we have to get involved, the more costly it is to us, and the more we’re unable to do other things. So there’s a huge opportunity cost, as well as the actual costs themselves.”
How has Axcient helped alleviate the cost of support?
“We can rely on Axcient and their expertise to free up time in terms of tickets. Before, higher-level engineers had to be dedicated to those backup and disaster recovery tickets. Now, we’re able to push that down – and we’ve reduced tickets altogether – which allows higher-skilled techs to do the managerial and leadership tasks. We don’t see a lot of tickets coming from Axcient, and when we do, Axcient jumps on it and takes care of it without needing a lot of help from us. That’s the type of managed solution that we, and most MSPs, should be looking for. We want the engineers to spend as much of their time on billable utilization, and now they can.
It’s actually allowed us to change our hiring model, find employees a little bit easier, and for less money. We’ve started hiring younger folks and established a training program with management criteria and systems that bring them along in their skills. Level three technicians and engineering managers can rededicate the time they were previously spending on tickets to help train, mentor, and lead newer technicians.
There are also management features, including AutoVerify, that are saving us a lot of time with Axcient versus our previous provider.
How has your operations team responded to Axcient?
“The feedback we’ve gotten from our operations team is that Axcient is easier to work with, more responsive, and less expensive, which is a pretty good combination from a managed service provider perspective.”
Anything else to say about working with Axcient?
“Working with Axcient has been an absolute pleasure in terms of driving down costs compared to our previous vendor. We were targeting a 50% savings, and we achieved well above that. Tickets went down considerably – over 70%. The numbers speak for themselves, which goes straight to gross profit. It’s a drastic move of the needle from a business perspective, and it’s pretty phenomenal what we’ve been able to achieve with Axcient in terms of lowering the cost of the solution itself and reducing the amount of time our engineers have to spend on tickets. Working with Axcient in terms of the offer presented and how Axcient supports the product has just been night and day compared to what we were working with.
The other piece was that with Datto, we weren’t satisfied with their cloud backup for Microsoft 365. A side benefit that we hadn’t anticipated was how pleased we are with the x360Cloud solution. The way it’s constructed is terrific from our vantage point. The way that it’s executed, the price point, it’s very simple and easy to understand, and we’ve got a great deal of acceptance with that. So there are some add-on sales that we didn’t anticipate initially.”
“Our relationship with Axcient is reinforced daily with world-class sales and tech support, the very competitive pricing, and the ease of maintaining the product stack.”
– Craig Issacs, Executive Vice President of Operations at Cygnus Systems
About the Author: Carissa Johnson // Product Marketing Manager, Axcient
Carissa Kohn-Johnson has a background in behavioral and physical healthcare technology and information technology and currently works as the Product Marketing Manager for Axcient. She has a lot of MSP Channel experience from planning and attending hundreds of conferences and tradeshows, and found her passion in technology, and working with MSPs in particular. She serves on the Information Services Advisory Board for her community and feels most at home with other technology-forward people. Connect with her on LinkedIn – perhaps you can contribute to the Axcient blog?