Datto Intros Wide-Ranging Expansions To MSP-focused Data, Networking, Automation Tech

Tim Weller, in his first on-stage appearance at the DattoCon conference since becoming CEO, showed how his company is not only innovation-focused, but has also become a model for integrating third-party technologies - including those of competitors.


Austin McChord (right) prepares to toss Weller’s PC in a fish tank to prove a point.

Datto, a major provider of continuity, remote monitoring and management, and networking security for the MSP community, Tuesday used its annual DattoCon conference to unveil several major enhancements to its product line card aimed at increasing MSP revenue, especially recurring revenue.

The product introductions were shepherded by Tim Weller, CEO of Norwalk, Conn.-based Datto, who told attendees of the conference, held this week in San Diego, that IT spending by SMBs worldwide is about $100 billion annually, based on studies by analyst firms Gartner and Canalys, and that MSPs were the major beneficiary of that spending.

"This industry has arrived. … And it's growing 25 percent a year," Weller said.

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[Related: Datto: Tim Weller Named CEO To Succeed Founder Austin McChord]

Weller also said that $8 billion was invested in the MSP sector in the last year in a combination of venture investing, mergers and acquisitions. Furthermore, he cited a Datto study that found that 98 percent of MSPs say this is a great time to be in the industry.

The MSP business is so strong for a simple reason, Weller said. "Today, even the smallest business has dozens of technology providers," he said. "They need help from you."

Weller, who in January became CEO of Datto after stints as president and chief operating officer of the company, started the product introduction by talking in very technical language about the new offerings.

After a few seconds of technical jargon, Weller was interrupted by Austin McChord, founder and former CEO of Datto, who suddenly appeared on-stage and admonished him for that jargon. "Datto is a product company," McChord said.

McChord then marched across the stage, grabbed a notebook PC, and with what appeared to be an angry look tossed that PC into a fish tank full of water before disappearing.

That move was the segue for Weller to introduce the first new product, Datto Cloud Continuity for PCs, a new offering that creates image-based backups of employee user devices to the cloud as a way to protect the data on those devices should they be lost, stolen, or, in this case, tossed into a fish tank.

Weller brought Chad Kosre, a Datto software engineer, on-stage to show how Datto Cloud Continuity for PCs can configure and do backups of user devices, allocate bandwidth for the backups, provide alerts, and specify whether recovery should be done to a virtual machine in a cloud or to a new "bare metal" device. Kosre also showed how an MSP could help a customer restore specific files that can be immediately accessed while the rest of the recovery continues.

Aaron Dun, vice president of product marketing at Datto, told CRN that Datto Cloud Continuity for PCs is targeted at MSPs looking to help automatically protect customer's data residing on their user devices, which typically is not covered by corporate data protection processes.

"We put an agent on their local PCs to allow communication with the cloud," Dun said. "That is no mean engineering feat. Servers are always on and easy to protect, but PCs get turned on and off."

The move shows Datto's focus on recurring revenue for MSPs, Weller said. "And we're going to get there together," he said.

Datto Cloud Continuity for PCs is targeting the ever-growing number of mobile workers who until now have not had a real good solution for protecting data on their laptops, said Dave Seibert, chief information officer at IT Innovators, an Irvine, Calif.-based MSP and Datto channel partner.

"This is a great solution," Seibert told CRN. "When you have roaming salespeople or people working from home, this protects devices outside the office. It's handy for devices in the office, but for remote devices it's awesome.

Abby Warner, chief operating officer at The Brookfield Group, a Carmel, Ind.-based MSP and Datto channel partner, told CRN that after watching the Datto Cloud Continuity for PCs introduction, she texted her company's chief technology officer and said there are three specific customers that need it.

"Hardware is a necessary evil," Warner said. "It's one of the things where a laptop is there one day working fine, and the next day is gone. Being able to quickly restore a PC to a new device is huge."

Weller also said Datto was investing heavily in its remote monitoring and management platform, and is on track to make 10 major feature releases each year including integrations with competing platforms.

"Witness our integration with ConnectWise," he said. "We know half of you are on Datto, and half of you are on ConnectWise. And we're OK with that."

That kind of openness is important to MSPs, Warner said.

"One of the fears for an MSP after a merger or acquisition in the software tools an MSP uses is that innovation going forward is lacking," she said. "That may not be the best thing for our business. But with Datto, we can use competing products like Cisco Umbrella, Auvik, and so on through its platform."

Weller invited Matthe Smit, director of product management for Datto's RMM technology, who unveiled a new integration with Datto's networking product line as a way to let MSPs easily get insight into who is doing what on the network and what issues they are having.

Smit also showed a new user interface for Datto RMM that includes new dashboards for showing what devices have issues and how to troubleshoot them and for streamlined device summaries. He also unveiled HTML5-based remote control that will allow Datto RMM to manage networks from any device. The latest version of Datto RMM is currently available, he said.

Those dashboards are a big deal, Warner said. "We use dashboards a lot," she said. "However, I've had to custom-build dashboards for our top 25 customers, and haven't really had anything that works with the rest of our clients. Now we can apply dashboards to everyone."

John Tippett, vice president of products for Datto networking, then took the stage to introduce the new E310, Datto's first Layer-3 networking switch. The E310 features 8, 24, or 48 ports with 10-Gbit Ethernet uploads, Tippett said. More important is the switch's cloud management platform with a user interface for easy management, reporting, and auditing of network logs, he said.

The E310 switch is slated to be released this summer, Tippett said.

Weller then introduced Joe Rourke, product manager for Datto's Autotask PSA (professional services automation) platform, who told MSPs the company plans to release the latest quarterly update to the platform next week.

That update will include the ability to manage it over Android devices, following last year's opening up of the platform to iOS devices, Rourke said. He said Datto Autotask will also include a new service ticketing system that streamlines the process, as well as new user-based billing to simplify how MSPs work with multiple clients.

Datto is clearly showing the importance of evolving both its RMM and its PSA platforms, Seibert said.

"In general, if you track the industry, you see a lot of RMM and PSA tools, but the vendors eventually stop innovating them," he said. "That's why you see MSPs jumping from one RMM or PSA platform to another. If a vendor innovates, it can keep its MSPs. Things like adding HTML5 or new user interfaces are nice. But more important is committing to growing the platforms."

Rourke was followed on-stage by Dan Flanigan, vice president of product management, who introduced a new pricing model for the company's SaaS-based data protection technology. That model, called partner-pooled pricing, lets MSPs purchase several licenses in advance to allocate as needed to customers and move between customers. For instance, he said, one of an MSP's customers may lose some employees while another gains employees, and with partner-pooled pricing can just move existing licenses as needed.

Pricing for Datto's SaaS-based data protection technology was also cut, he said.

Weller also introduced a new exclusive security bundle that uses technology from San Francisco-based Vade Secure, which specializes in protecting Microsoft Office 365 environments from phishing and other attacks.

Weller called Office 365 data protection a huge opportunity for MSPs, given that Microsoft has sold 155 million seats so far on a worldwide basis, with expectations of 500 million seats soon, but relatively few have implemented third-party data protection. "We're going to make this a recurring revenue, long-term revenue opportunity," he said.

Weller then invited Russ Morton, senior director of product continuity, who introduced SIRIS 4, the newest member of Datto's SIRIS family on on-premises data protection appliances.

SIRIS 4, the first new version since SIRIS 3 was launched about three years ago, now features Intel Skylake and Cascade Lake processors, which significantly reduce power consumption while offering a 25-percent processing boost, Morton said. It is available in multiple versions depending on customer requirements, he said.

Also new to the SIRIS family is SIRIS Private, which features the full SIRIS appliance capability but is designed specifically for protecting data on-premises for customers who cannot use public clouds because of potential compliance or regulatory issues, Morton said.