Datto CEO Previews New Products, Tools To Help MSPs Reach SMBs
Joseph F. Kovar
Datto CEO Austin McChord, with the help of a few Datto engineers, used his Tuesday keynote presentation at DattoCon to offer a look at what the company has planned for its MSP partners.
Those plans include a move to give MSPs a virtual desktop infrastructure that will help them provide services to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses they may not be able to reach now, as well as a new managed power strip to help them reboot servers and desktops without sending a technician to customer sites.
McChord presented the look forward, as well as several new products now just coming to market, at DattoCon, which is being held this week in Denver. Datto said about 1,000 MSPs are at the conference.
Datto, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has nine data centers worldwide storing 320 TBs of customer data on its own cloud, and is working with over 6,400 MSPs managing over 150,000 active deployments, McChord said
The company has led the market with several of what McChord called "industry firsts" for data protection including screenshot verification, local and cloud integration, hybrid virtualization, time-based retention, all-flash backup and disaster recovery appliances, and ransomware detection.
"All of this has been driven by a decade of innovation," he said.
Datto's goal is to build the best MSP solutions available, and make them simple, McChord said. "That is what drives your business and enables us to grow," he said.
McChord showed that Datto listens to its partners and makes the kind of changes they need, which has led the company to enjoy its current growth, said Dave Seibert, CIO at IT Innovators, and Irvine, Calif.-based MSP and Datto channel partner.
"A lot of what was announced at DattoCon was what the channel wanted," Seibert told CRN. "A lot of vendors, especially those who are enterprise-focused, don't make changes based on what their SMB customers and partners tell them."
McChord used part of his keynote to show how Datto is expanding that decade of innovation with new offerings expected to be released later this year.
The offering that drew the largest applause from the MSP attendees was Datto Desktop, a new project the company hopes will lead to technology that will let MSPs bring virtual desktop infrastructure to their smallest small business customers.
Datto Desktop is targeted at companies with fewer than 10 users and maybe one or two servers and no policies, a business McChord said is often overlooked. "It's almost impossible for an MSP to go after these really tiny businesses," he said.
Datto hopes to give MSPs the technology to build high-performance virtual desktops out of thin clients that MSPs could deploy at customer sites while managing them remotely, McChord said.
While those thin clients might be something as simple as a Raspberry Pi low-cost basic board-based computer, Datto Desktop uses RDP for KVM to give it the power to run YouTube videos, he said.
Datto Desktop will include the thin client, cloud-based virtualization, and remote management, he said.
Datto engineers demonstrated Datto Desktop by showing quick remote configuration and deployment, along with the ability of the thin client to be unplugged and rebooted back to their original state.
It is indeed difficult to manage very small businesses as an MSP, but the market potential is huge, said Peter Xenakis, business development manager at ITS, a Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based MSP and Datto channel partner.
Small businesses with under 10 people are budget-constrained, but they already understand the advantage of virtual desktop infrastructure, Xenakis told CRN. For MSPs, deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure will cut back significantly on money-wasting trips to the customer, he said.
"The acceptance of VDI depends on how it is presented," he said. "Datto's demonstration of Datto Desktop was right on. The company figuratively blew a box up, and it came back up quickly. And Austin said he wants the user experience to be the same as customer's desktops are now."
Datto's introduction of the Datto Desktop is the "ultimate teaser," Siebert said. "This is something everybody is trying to do, but VDI still remains a small market," he said. "It's like flying cars. Everybody has wanted flying cars for years, but we don't have them yet. The opportunity for this in the education market is huge, and Datto's demo of the technology was effective."
McChord also drew applause from MSPs with the introduction of a prototype of the Data Managed Power device, a new managed power strip that would allow MSPs to turn off and reboot client devices remotely. "Yes, you just applauded for a power strip," he said. "That's how you know you're in the MSP industry."
Xenakis was one of those applauding. "We have clients with firewalls that sometimes go down," he said. "A managed PDU is important. APC has had them for some time, but they are very expensive and focused on the enterprise."
McChord also discussed the product roadmap for the company's Datto Networking Appliance, or DNA. The DNA, which was introduced early a year ago, is an appliance designed to protect data in transit between customers' data centers and MSPs' clouds. Among its most unique capabilities is a built-in modem that connects to a Verizon 4G LTE network to form a wireless backup in case internet access is lost.
McChord said the DNA in the third quarter of 2017 would receive such new capabilities as VLAN tagging and rules; one-to-one and one-to-many NAT (network address translation); geo IP filtering; quality of service for fast synchronizations in failover situations; and Datto device firewall settings.
In the fourth quarter, McChord said to expect DNA to include outbound NAT rules, open integration, custom DDNS (dynamic domain name system), and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) voice proxy.
Also coming to Datto and its MSPs later this year is the SaaS Protection Nodes, McChord said. SaaS Protection Nodes are new appliances based on the new Intel Skylark processor and Intel Optane high-performance memory-based flash storage technology and will act as an on-premises cloud for protection Office 365 data for customers such as financial institutions who need to know the physical location of their data.
The SaaS Protection Nodes will be able to be run in MSP colocation centers or in customer data centers to provide data protection based on customers' own policies, he said. "This is a true enterprise-grade piece of equipment," he said.
Datto's moves over the years beyond data protection to such areas as networking, security, and even managed power strips show that the company is moving into the back office of its MSPs' customers, Seibert said.
"I can see those solution sets growing," he said. "And I can see it all being managed through the Datto Portal. These are individual devices now. But the Datto Portal is gold. It can manage all the devices and services. That's a big value-add. And add on top of that the fact that the Datto Portal is already integrated with the ConnectWise platform, and will be integrated soon with Kaseya platform."