CRN Exclusive: Kaseya CEO On Unitrends Integration, Partnering With 'Best-In-Class' Companies, And Why 'Data Is King'

Minimizing Channel Conflict With New Data Protection Offering

Kaseya Tuesday unveiled Kaseya Unified Backup, a new offering that integrates Unitrends MSP's data protection technology with Kaseya's remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool for the company's MSP partners.

Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola told CRN that, while Kaseya works with multiple data protection vendors that take advantage of its platform to work with its MSPs, the new Kaseya Unified Backup should not result in channel conflict. Indeed, he said, Kaseya does the same with other data protection and security vendors, and has experience in managing conflict.

However, Voccola said, the integration is not a response to the acquisition of rival Autotask by another storage vendor, Datto.

Here's what Voccola had to say about the company's data protection offering, the key to its Technical Alliance Program and more.

So what is Kaseya doing new with data protection?

We released our Kaseya Unified Backup solution. It's powered by Unitrends MSP Backup. We're really excited about it. Where to begin?

One of the things we believe in at Kaseya, where we try to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, is being an open platform for our customers, bringing the best-of-breed solutions to our customers, whether they are Kaseya products or we are wrapping the technologies of an OEM.

Backup is no different. I would say 99.999 percent of our customers will get backup and disaster recovery as an integral and strategic part of their IT strategy. For service providers, it is one of the most if not the most important services they can offer, and one of the biggest money-makers and the largest margin offerings they have. And for internal IT shops, it goes without saying how critical it is for business continuity and compliance and other factors like security. Data is king, as we all say.

Why is Kaseya working with Unitrends MSP?

[Unitrends’] technology is used by the Global 1000. They're in the top-ranked quadrant in a couple of Gartner Magic Quadrants for DraaS [disaster recovery as a service] and enterprise mobility and things of that nature. So we're taking that enterprise-class tech and embedding it in our Kaseya wrapper. And we're making it available within the same interface of our RMM. I believe it's the only true enterprise-class backup that is natively embedded into an RMM. So if I'm an RMM user, and I want to back files up or back up an endpoint or whatever I want to do, I can do it from within the same interface. … And it's powered by something called Backup IQ.

What is Backup IQ?

This is something that Unitrends does, and one of the reasons why we selected Unitrends as one of our BDR partners. This is, like, super cool. I'm not an expert on Backup IQ, but I've become very familiar with it over the last year or so. Unitrends has maybe 15,000 customers, and they're backing up just tons of data. They have hundreds of thousands of backup jobs and configuration routines that get done. And they take all of that information and start to profile and use basic machine-learning algorithms to give recommendations to an engineer, based on the profile and based on a lot of analytics, things that they should do, how to do it, and why to do it.

Machine learning?

That sounds super cool on paper. 'Oh, wow, some great marketing stuff. And some AI powered by machine learning -- those are two of the biggest buzzwords in the industry. Good job, Unitrends. You're putting them both in the same sentence.'

But when our engineers, our internal IT guys, took a look at it and pounded our internal IT systems on it, it was legit. We did some benchmarks on it ourselves. The numbers came out along the same lines as what Unitrends talks about engineering efficiency. … Claims like that are a dime a dozen, but we actually did it ourselves, and it made a lot of sense.

Does Kaseya have other data protection offerings?

We have another backup product called Kaseya Cloud Backup, which leverages the Acronis engine. We think that, for some of the lightweight stuff, Kaseya Cloud Backup makes sense. But for people that really want an appliance-based approach, really want the enterprise-class capability, and for MSPs that really want to do a true disaster recovery in the cloud, spin up servers in the cloud, and really leverage that, Kaseya Unified Backup makes it the right solution set. So we feel we're remaining true to our roots and remaining open, partnering with the best-in-class folks, and not just saying, 'Hey, why don't you resell this product?' That's kind of like the poor man's way of doing it.

We spent lots of money, lots of effort, engineering a solution where our customer has one interface, one workflow, one seamless piece.

Well, if you are going heavily into the data protection business with Kaseya Unified Backup, don't you risk conflict with other data protection vendors that connect to MSPs via the Kaseya console?

We have something called the TAP, the Technical Alliance Program. And that's where we open our APIs to anyone and everyone. So, to be very candid, look, there are so many vendors out there and so many companies out there that our customers want to work with. We have over 25,000 customers. Not only being altruistic, but in our own self-interest, we want to make sure we make as many people as happy as we can. How's that for a simple way of phrasing it? Take Veeam, for example. Veeam is a great company. Veeam is a member of our Technical Alliance Program. We work closely with Veeam. If our customers use Veeam, we have native integration to our product with Veeam. It's very easy to go between the two products. Or we work with Datto, even though we compete with some of Datto's other products now that they've acquired Autotask.

How does that differ from the Unitrends MSP relationship?

We work with them all. It's just who we decide to OEM. It's a very different kind of relationship. It doesn't exclude those vendors from having access to our customer base. And it doesn't exclude them from writing their own integrations. We open our APIs. It's just, if it's going to be a Kaseya-branded product, we take control, and we have to be relatively selective about how many we do that with, just for economics and the reasons for doing business with them. It is an interesting balancing act. We prefer to be very transparent with all of our partners. And some we resell, and some we OEM, and others we integrate with.

But what about the possibility of conflict? Why would Veeam, the example you cited, not be concerned if Kaseya brings in its own data protection offering?

Veeam was probably a bad example, because we work closely with Veeam. Veeam does not offer an appliance. …

Commvault might be a better example. Or Barracuda. Barracuda and Commvault -- we've opened our APIs so if any of our customers are using Barracuda or Commvault or someone, they can build the integration and work with us through our TAP program. So yes, if I were Barracuda, I'd see Kaseya out there selling Kaseya Unified Backup. But remember, we only sell that product through our existing customers. One of the main reasons someone would buy that product is because there's such a deep native integration with the Kaseya RMM. So a Barracuda or a Commvault, yeah, they might see that as problematic. But we're not deep partners with either one of them. We are more than happy to integrate with them. And we're more than happy to provide the APIs if they want to build a very deep integration. It's just, in terms of whom we choose to spend our R&D dollars on.

Is Kaseya's introduction of its own data protection offering a reaction to Datto's acquisition of Kaseya rival Autotask?

No. The timing is kind of interesting. We've been working on this for over a year. It takes quite awhile to build the level of product integration that we have between [us and Unitrends]. So when we saw Autotask being acquired by Datto, it was, yeah, that'll be funny when we announce it in a couple months.

I think what that does is, it shows trends. It makes a lot of sense for an MSP customer to have an integrated, unified platform to run their business. I think that's a trend that you're going to continue to see. I think you're going to see winners and losers in the space there. But I do think it's a trend.

The optics [of the timing] are one thing. But we've had our Kaseya Cloud Backup thing for several years, five years now.

Does Kaseya have any other technologies that it offers to its MSP customers through its own platform that are also provided by third-party partners of the company?

Our anti-virus technologies and anti-malware technologies are done the same way. Let's call anti-virus, anti-malware just bundled into one offering, even though they're very different types of things. We work with Webroot, we work with Kaspersky, we work with Malwarebytes from the perspective where we actually OEM those. We've done the same type of deal here for the last seven to eight years. We also work pretty closely with Bitdefender now.

We have maybe five or six, Sophos and others, that have written to our API to integrate reporting [and so on]. But in terms of who do we actually OEM, we have relationships where we do that with Webroot, Kaspersky, and Malwarebytes. We're never going to become an anti-virus company. That's a totally different space. Those guys have so much expertise. But every single one of our customers wants it. They want to do it through their RMM.