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This episode of Channel Insider: Partner POV features an insightful conversation with Mike Johnson, CEO of IT solutions provider EchoStor, alongside Enterprise Account Manager Caleb Morgan and their client CC Larner, who serves as Director of IT Compute, Database, and Desktop Engineering Services at the University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center.

Host Katie Bavoso sits down with the guests to dive into the reliable, long-standing partnership between EchoStor and UVM, shedding light on how EchoStor supports UVM’s critical IT infrastructure.

Navigating high-stakes industries with a trustworthy IT partner

In Part 1 of the interview, the conversation delves into EchoStor’s evolution from a data center-focused company to a comprehensive IT solutions provider, touching on its commitment to client partnerships and strategic advisement. Larner highlights how EchoStor’s support and rapid response, particularly during a critical cyberattack, stress their efficacy as an IT partner, ensuring seamless operations in life-dependent healthcare environments.

The longstanding partnership between EchoStor and UVM Medical Center exemplifies the importance of trust and reliability in IT services. Larner highlights how EchoStor has been a dependable partner, always ready to provide support and solutions whenever needed. This trust is built on EchoStor’s commitment to understanding the unique needs of its clients and delivering tailored solutions.

Listen to Part 1 of the podcast:

Watch the Part 1 video:

The evolution of EchoStor

Johnson starts the discussion by walking listeners through EchoStor’s history and evolution. “We grew up in the data center space,” Johnson remarks, emphasizing their virtualization, compute, storage, backup systems, and disaster recovery expertise. Over time, their offerings have expanded to include digital business solutions built around the ServiceNow platform, networking and security, modern workplace solutions centered on Microsoft consulting, and wrapping these services with professional and managed services.

Insider insights: Trends and challenges

Morgan illuminates the complex challenges faced by modern IT infrastructures, particularly in healthcare. “Our job is to help clients navigate through a flood of information, ensuring they make the right investments to support their business needs,” he says. He highlights the perennial challenge of technology overload, where businesses are constantly inundated with new solutions and innovations.

He explains that clients look to service providers for guidance on where to allocate their IT budgets most effectively. With so much information to sift through, clients rely on the expertise of managed service providers to recommend the best-fit solutions for their unique situations.

This consultative approach not only helps customers make informed decisions but also ensures their operational stability, a crucial factor in industries like healthcare, where downtime can have severe repercussions.

UVM Medical Center: A client perspective

The conversation notably turns to the direct implications of IT in the healthcare sector. Larner delineates her role and its paramount importance in delivering patient care. She states, “My job is patient care. That’s our mission.”

Her responsibility involves ensuring that the electronic health records (EHR) system is always up and running for clinicians, which is crucial for providing timely and efficient patient care. A radiology server reboot, for example, must be meticulously coordinated to avoid disrupting critical treatments like radiation therapy or emergency scans. “Three minutes when your life is on the line is critical,” Larner highlights, underscoring the gravity of maintaining seamless IT operations in a healthcare setting.

This segue is a stark reminder that IT infrastructure in healthcare is not just about operational efficiency but about saving lives. Larner comments on how EchoStor mitigates this challenge by acting as an extension of UVM’s IT team. Their quick-response ethos and deep understanding of the healthcare domain ensure that patient care remains uninterrupted.

Real-life success story

Notably, the interview highlights compelling real-world scenarios where EchoStor came to the rescue, most dramatically during a cyberattack on UVM Medical Center. Larner recounts how EchoStor’s immediate response and technical support were invaluable. “Echo Service was there at the beginning when we didn’t know it was a cyberattack,” she shares.

When their Active Directory domain was gone and hardware was needed urgently, Johnson and his team didn’t hesitate. Johnson humorously recalls, “I was dressed as Joe Exotic from Tiger King when I got the call… I think I arrived in Vermont around 4:35 in the morning.” Their swift action, even in the most unconventional circumstances, emphasizes their dedication and reliability.

EchoStor provided UVM with the necessary hardware and support to rebuild its infrastructure and restore its electronic health record system, thereby ensuring the continuity of patient care.

Sustaining long-term IT partnerships

In part 2 of the interview, the focus shifts to discussing what makes the EchoStor-UVM partnership resilient and effective over a decade, mainly when no immediate crisis like a cyberattack exists.

Listen to Part 2 of the podcast:

Watch the Part 2 video:

EchoStor’s 20-to-1 philosophy

Johnson stresses the importance of EchoStor’s “20-to-1 philosophy,” aiming to have at least 20 employees from various roles regularly engage with each customer. This approach ensures a deep, multi-faceted understanding of the client’s needs. Additionally, they assign two executive sponsors for each client, one focused on sales and the other on technical aspects, ensuring comprehensive support and an accessible escalation path for any issues.

This philosophy accents the value of having a robust support structure for IT channels and partners. Companies can offer a more well-rounded and responsive service by involving multiple team members and executive sponsors in client interactions. This strategy not only enhances client satisfaction but also builds a stronger, more resilient relationship that can weather various challenges.

Watch part 2 of the interview to learn more about this philosophy and how to implement it in your organization.

The blueprint for customer coverage

EchoStor’s approach to customer coverage is meticulously planned, reflecting a deep understanding of client needs and organizational growth. They emphasize finding the right personnel with the appropriate DNA — those who embody a customer-first mentality.

As Johnson points out, finding the right people — “somebody that’s got the DNA like Caleb, who has the ‘customer first mentality’” — is crucial.

This careful selection ensures that new team members can uphold the high standards set by EchoStor in supporting their clients, even as the company experiences rapid growth.

By identifying and nurturing talent that aligns with the company’s values and client expectations, businesses can ensure continuity in service quality and client satisfaction. This approach is vital for maintaining trust and delivering consistent value, especially during periods of significant growth.

Choosing the right IT partner

For organizations looking to find a reliable IT partner, the takeaways from this conversation are clear. Larner advises CIOs to prioritize open communication and strategic planning when selecting partners. “Their willingness to engage right up front, the strategic planning piece is huge,” she emphasizes. The goal is to find a partner who understands the mission and values of the organization and can provide forward-thinking solutions that align with long-term objectives.

EchoStor’s approach to maintaining regular communication cadences with UVM ensures that all aspects of the partnership are continuously managed and optimized. Johnson discusses the importance of these regular touchpoints, saying, “We like to have weekly, bi-weekly, monthly cadences” to cover various topics and stay ahead of potential issues. This structured approach helps in managing expectations and keeping all parties aligned.

Watch the video or podcast above for insights from Katie Bavoso, EchoStor’s Mike Johnson and Caleb Morgan, and UVM Medical Center’s CC Larner. Remember to like and subscribe for more interviews with solution providers and thought leaders, along with special episodes and opportunities!

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