Autotask Partners: Joining Forces With Datto Will Unlock Robust Backup Opportunities For Channel

Autotask partners said the company's expected merger with Datto will allow MSPs to tap into a rich backup offering.

The deal, reported by CRN earlier Thursday, will bring together the best professional services automation (PSA) and backup management vendors in the business, according to Tom Clancy, president of Valiant Technology. The opportunity to integrate Datto's backup offering with Autotask's remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool and suite of appliances is tremendous for partners of both companies, Clancy said.

Micah Thor, president of Minneapolis-based MSP Tech Guru, said his company is considering switching from Barracuda MSP's and Dell EMC's Mozy backup offerings to Datto if the deal goes through to take advantage of potential synergies between Datto's backup tool and Autotask's PSA and remote monitoring and management (RMM) offerings.

[Related: Sources: Autotask, Datto Set To Merge In Private Equity Deal]

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Having alerts go automatically into the machine and get remediated as a result of robust integration between Autotask's and Datto's tools will save Tech Guru a couple of seconds on each ticket, Thor said. Although that doesn't sound like much, the time savings will add up given that Tech Guru handles more than 200 tickets each week, according to Thor.

"Datto is a really, really strong player in that backup space," Thor said. "It makes a lot of sense for these vendors to consolidate."

Autotask introduced its own endpoint backup offering last year as a result of organic investment, but Tech Guru hasn't used it much since it's more of a file-level backup, Thor said. Restoring a user's ecosystem after a ransomware attack using file-level backup is a very time-consuming process, according to Thor.

Datto, in contrast, offers replication-level backup solutions, meaning that recovery after a ransomware attack is as simple as turning on a virtual machine and replicating the ecosystem, Thor said. This process takes minutes rather than hours or even days, according to Thor.

Thor said mergers and acquisitions give Tech Guru more confidence that vendors will continue adding new features and investing in their core offerings than third-party partnerships that might not withstand the test of time. In an acquisition, Thor said he knows the integrations created will be around for the long-haul since the agreement cannot easily be undone.

Conversely, Clancy of Valiant said it's imperative than Autotask maintain its culture of openness around third-party integrations rather than switched to a "walled garden" approach adopted by others in the industry.

Having a healthy third-party ecosystem is more valuable to channel partners than being a one-stop shop, Clancy said, since MSPs like to pick their own flavor of network security and backup equipment.

Autotask has traditionally been very supportive of having its channel partners build their own stack, Clancy said, even as the East Greenbush, N.Y.-based vendor provides what it believes to be best-of-breed offerings in many technology areas. Clancy hopes that culture will continue through the acquisition.

"We all have different opinions on what the best stack is," Clancy said. "I don't want to be forced to use one company's anti-virus."

Specifically, Clancy hopes that his company doesn't face any pressure to sell Datto's managed network products given that Valiant already has strong relationships with Cisco Meraki around networking and wireless equipment and SonicWall around firewalls. And he hopes that Autotask's legacy PSA offering doesn't take a backseat once it becomes part of a broader set of tools offered by the combined entity.

"They're going to want to move appliances," Clancy said. "They're going to want to move access points."

The two companies have somewhat different cultures, Clancy said, with Datto having grown up in the hardware and appliance world and Autotask being purely a cloud-based software company. He is cautiously optimistic that Autotask can provider Datto with enough cloud DNA to become a true software and services-oriented business.

"It's a very big difference in business being a widget manufacturer and being a cloud service provider," Clancy said. "Everybody sees the writing on the wall that businesses in general aren't hardware-oriented today."