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DattoCon 2018: Datto Leverages Recent Buys In Move To Be Top MSP-centric Tech Provider

MSPs at the DattoCon 2018 conference cheered loudly when Datto introduced a native iOS app for Autotask, one of many significant upgrades the company used to prove it is a candidate for the title of top contender in the MSP technology and services business.

Datto is moving fast to capitalize on its recent MSP-focused management and networking acquisitions to make significant upgrades to its storage, networking, and business management platforms.

The upgrades, unveiled during this week's DattoCon 2018 conference in Austin, Texas, include improved disaster recovery and business continuity integration with the cloud, new networking and power management gear, and a couple of mobile apps for managing Datto's offerings that had the audience of MSPs cheering.

The changes are a way for Datto to help MSPs grow their businesses to meet an SMB market expected to grow to $72 billion by 2022, up from $40 billion now, said Austin McChord (pictured), Datto’s CEO and founder, during his keynote presentation.

[Related: DattoCon 2018: Datto Widens, Sharpens Its MSP-centric Approach After Autotask, Networking Acquisitions]

Prior to 2017, Datto was known mainly as an MSP-centric data protection and disaster recovery provider. However, the company entered the networking market with the January 2017 purchase of Open Mesh, and added remote monitoring and management capabilities to its products to make them more applicable to MSPs.

Datto in late 2017 acquired Autotask, a developer of major MSP-centric remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) platforms.

Datto has since capitalized on those acquisitions to grow its MSP business with a goal of being the most MSP-centric company in the business, said Rob Rae, vice president of business development at Datto.

To meet MSP requirements, McChord this week used DattoCon 2018 to unveil several significant additions to its storage, networking, and business management capabilities.

The first is on Datto's continuity business, which includes data protection and disaster recovery that protect customers' data via the company's own 440-plus-petabyte storage cloud.

New to Datto is Rapid Rollback, a technology for restoring file systems after major unwanted changes have occurred without the need for reimaging the complete server. Rapid Rollback compares existing file system files and the last backup to determine what changes were made to automatically find and restore only the changed files to speed up the restore process, McChord said.

Traditionally, such restores were done by doing a block-level operation to bring the data to a bare metal server, McChord said. With Rapid Rollback, the changed data is brought back on a file basis, he said.

Datto also unveiled Advanced Backup Verification, which McChord called a series of automated checks of backed-up applications and data to ensure they will work during a restoration. Advanced Backup Verification also sweeps data to prevent ransomware, verifies whether the backup was successful or not, and provides services verification.

"This gives you the confidence that if you do a Windows backup, it really works," he said.

Datto Continuity is now also integrated closely with Autotask PSA so that MSPs can managed it via Autotask PSA with Datto dashboard templates.

On the business management side, Datto has made some significant enhancements to its newly-acquired Autotask PSA technology, McChord said

The audience of MSPs broke out in loud applause when McChord introduced a new native iOS mobile application that allows MSPs to view their Autotask PSA dashboards from mobile devices instead of having to be tied to a computer with a browser. The mobile app provides Datto alerts on a per-device basis, and lets MSPs see the status of all devices. It is also customizable so MSPs can turn on and off specific features or customize their own views.

McChord also introduced a new user interface with a new dashboard that shows all alerts and makes it easy for MSPs to respond quickly to issues.

Going forward, Datto plans to accelerate innovation on its PSA platform by scheduling four major upgrades every year, McChord said. "We want to deliver a platform that will help you grow faster than ever," he said.

On the RMM side, Datto on Tuesday said it has renamed Autotask Endpoint Management to Datto RMM, and introduced new capabilities.

Autotask reporting was made significantly easier with a new ticketing capability that lets users run an application on their desktops that gathers information about an issue, including how urgent the issue is, and sending that information to an engineer who can then troubleshoot a problem without relying on the phone or sent screenshots.

Datto also introduced a new way to ensure every managed device has received all antivirus updates and patches.

Since the acquisition of Open Mesh, Datto has been looking for a way to eliminate the gap in networking gear where the commodity hardware does not offer enterprise-class capabilities but enterprise-class hardware is too expensive for SMBs, McChord said.

"Datto's goal is to bring the best of them together," he said.

Datto is doing this with a new lifetime warranty that, effective immediately, applies to all Datto networking access points, switches, and managed power devices, including previously-installed units, McChord said.

The company also unveiled the Datto networking mobile app to help MSPs more easily deploy and manage networks by letting them view and monitor all access points, switches, managed power devices, and clients.

This app, which can be downloaded now for Android devices, provides an overview of all networking devices. An MSP can deploy a new device just by scanning its label into the app. MSPs can also remotely power on and off individual ports on the company's new line of intelligent, cloud-managed power strips.

Datto also introduced a new wireless access point, the AP62, which completes the company's transition to 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, as well as new E24 switches which provide 10-Gbit Ethernet uplinks and increases Power-over-Ethernet budgets to 410 watts.

On the file sync and backup side, Datto introduced Direct To Cloud, a new offering that provides multi-path synchronization of image-based data with no need for an intermediary appliance. Data is "spoon-fed" to the cloud in order to ensure data synchronization does not impact performance, McChord said.

Also new is improved Office 365 integration, better logging and reporting, editable PDFs, and two-factor authentication for Autotask Workplace file sync and share software, and improved performance, security, and reporting for Autotask Endpoint Backup.

Datto MSPs cheered the vendor's product updates.

MSPs have been patiently waiting for a native iOS application for Autotask, said Brian Weiss, CEO and director of IT services at Itech Solutions, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based MSP and longtime Autotask channel partner.

"It's been something that we've been asking about for a long time," Weiss told CRN. "That's why the loud cheer when it was announced."

Weiss said he told his team via Slack about the new app during the Datto presentation, and that two of his engineers responded that they no longer will have to get on a computer to manage big parts of their Autotask environments.

"I can also see my team implementing this on iPads in the field," he said. "The number-one complaint is that our people go on-site and bounce from computer to computer. Now they can just turn on a mobile device and have everything logged in before they leave the site. This will be huge for increasing time efficiency and decreasing issues."

Paul Marshall, managing director, J.P. Marshall Associates, a Bridgetown, Barbados-based MSP and channel partner to both Datto and Cisco, said he is excited about Datto's networking technology.

"Datto is making networking easy and accessible to managed services providers," Marshall told CRN. "Cisco doesn't provide good functionality for MSPs. What Datto is doing, if they carry it through, for managed services providers is going to be fantastic."

Unlike Cisco's networking offerings, Datto's were designed for management by service providers on a monthly fee basis, Marshall said. "Cisco lacks a single pane of glass we need to see what is happening with all customers," he said. "And we're big in Cisco. Don't get me wrong."

The most unique aspect of Datto is that everyone seems keen to help partners, Marshall said.

"They don't pretend to help," he said. "We're really surprised at how willing everyone is to help make sure we get an answer. They don't say, 'Oh, go talk to so and so.' They go get so-and-so and bring him back."

Datto's announcement that it will starting to provide quarterly updates to its Autotask products is very encouraging, Marshall said.

"Autotask is a great product," he said. "Don't get me wrong. But they've always been just a little behind the other guys. But that's about to change. It's encouraging to us."

Dave Seibert, chief information officer at IT Innovators, an Irvine, Calif.-based MSP and Datto partner, told CRN that Datto's acquisition of Open Mesh has resulted in a great MSP-centric networking line.

"Before, you deployed Open Mesh like any other access point, but you didn't have remote eyes on it," Seibert said. "Datto turned around and integrated it so that now you have remote access and monitoring. They put the MSP spin on it, if you will. They never had that before."

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