ATF Builds Value with All-In-One IT Solutions
Name: Atlanta Technology Force, Inc.
Services offered: Managed services, Voice over IP, hosted applications, and much more
“It’s the most economical way to do offsite backup.”
Headquartered in Duluth, Ga., Atlanta Technology Force, Inc. (ATF) has been providing IT services to a fast-growing customer base in the Greater Atlanta area since 2000. According to Kevin Gibson, the company’s vice president and CTO, ATF’s wide range of capabilities has been a key to its success.
“If you look at our premier managed service plan, for example, it includes 35 services. Most of our competitors average more like 20,” Gibson says. “Rolling in more services like that enables us to add more value.”
It also promotes long-term client relationships. “The more you do for your customers, the more ‘stickiness’ you have with them,” Gibson notes. And, he adds, the fewer interactions your clients end up having with potential competitors. “Being a client’s all-in-one technology partner reduces the number of vendors they talk to, which lowers the odds of another company stealing away your accounts,” Gibson observes.
Needless to say, data protection is one of the most vital services that ATF provides. For years, the company used a feature in its remote monitoring and management (RMM) software to copy backups across the Internet onto its own servers for added safety. Early in 2010, however, ATF switched to a new RMM tool lacking comparable functionality.
Replacing that capability proved harder than Gibson ever expected. The problem wasn’t finding an offsite backup solution, as there are plenty of those. It was finding one he could afford.
“99 percent of the storage companies out there charge by the gigabyte,” Gibson notes. “When you have a contractual commitment to provide comprehensive IT service for a flat price, you can’t spend hundreds of dollars a month on offsite backups.”
Moreover, many of the backup services Gibson evaluated were unreliable. “They would work great for three days and then be down for a week,” he says. “None of them was available on a consistent basis.”
Then Gibson attended a webinar about the Symform Cloud Storage Network, a solution that automatically copies backups onto vacant storage resources contributed by the service’s users. That model allows companies to exchange something inexpensive—disk space they’re not using anyway—for valuable offsite data protection. “Before the webinar was even over, I had emailed Symform for more information,” Gibson recalls. “I could tell immediately this was different from anything else out there.”
An extensive series of tests proved that initial impression correct. “Probably the biggest thing that impressed me was the ease of use,” Gibson says. “Symform takes the pain out of managing offsite backup. It basically just works.” It’s also extremely reliable, he continues: “Unlike the other systems we investigated, Symform never fails on us.”
What’s more, Symform is far more cost-effective than those other solutions too. “Most offsite storage products charge 30 cents a gig,” Gibson notes. “For a typical customer with 900 gigabytes of data, that’s $270 a month. With Symform, on the other hand, ATF pays a flat fee that is about ten times cheaper no matter how much data we store. That’s a huge difference.”
Plus, using Symform’s instant restore functionality, ATF can once again save client backups onto its own servers via the Web, just as it did before changing RMM solutions. “In an emergency we can simply take a copy of the data from our office to the customer’s site and load it onto their servers,” Gibson observes. “That potentially reduces recovery times from a few days to a few hours.”
With Symform’s help, ATF is providing better data protection to its clients than ever before. “We used to backup data at the client’s site and at ours. Now we’re also backing it up to the cloud for even greater safety,” Gibson says. “We’ve also gone from doing one offsite backup a month per client to doing three or four, so we’ve increased our service levels that way too.”
Meanwhile, those increased service levels aren’t eating into ATF’s margins, thanks both to Symform’s flat-rate pricing and its instant restore capability. “For almost a year after deploying our new RMM system, the only way we could get offsite backups onto our servers was to have someone visit each of our client sites and copy their data manually,” Gibson says. “Symform helped us eliminate all of that, which required probably 60 hours of effort a month.”
No wonder Gibson advises other solution providers to take a close look at Symform. “It’s the most economical way to do offsite backup,” he says.