Datto brings structure to portfolio

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At the recent DattoCon conference in Paris, we received an update on Datto’s growing portfolio. The company has grown with data backup solutions but is increasingly looking at other activities. Networking is becoming very important, just like professional service automation (PSA). With its portfolio, Datto is growing into a much broader IT supplier for SMEs. However, it must remain understandable. That’s why the company is working hard on this, especially by focusing on integrations.

Not everyone will be familiar with Datto’s technology. The company provides its services to SMEs via Managed Service Providers (MSPs). The SMEs are end-users on paper, although they may not be aware of the fact that they use Datto technology. They don’t come into contact with Datto solutions consciously because the management is also outsourced to MSPs.

What are Datto’s exact core activities?

Despite the somewhat less well-known name, Datto is a major player. Initially, it became big by building solutions for data protection, then aspects such as networking and Business Management were added. By adding non-traditional Datto solutions, the company seems to be striving to become one supplier for all SME issues, but that is not the case. One IT supplier where an MSP can arrange everything is not very realistic for Datto.

Datto has devised four different pillars to explain its business. These are Business Management, Unified Continuity, Networking and File Backup & Sync. Datto then places all kinds of other services under these pillars. This has the advantage that each pillar promises to deliver an extensive set of possibilities. In practice, this means that MSPs sometimes only call on Datto for Networking and Business Management because those services their SME customers need, and according to the MSPs, Datto can do that well.

External technologies

We already wrote an article about Datto Networking last year, when their venture into the network market was still relatively fresh. The network product line was set up by taking over Open Mesh and calling it Datto Networking. A move that perhaps came unexpectedly, since the network market is quite full. According to Datto, however, it could fill a gap that had arisen in the market. The difference between suppliers of enterprise network technology and low-level network providers was too big in Datto’s view. Network providers actually have too little focus on MSPs, where there is a need for good management capabilities without the products becoming very complex. The network division has to be able to offer this.

The Business Management part of the portfolio was also created through an acquisition. By acquiring Autotask, Datto acquired a party that is particularly good at PSA. Administrators can use PSA to manage matters and processes that are important to them within a dashboard, such as the status of Datto appliances. If an end-user creates a support ticket, PSA links this back to the administrator. Autotask also brought Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software to the Datto portfolio. This software is intended to manage all endpoints within a company.

Data protection activities

On the last two core activities, Unified Continuity and File Backup & Sync, the original Datto stamp is much more clearly present. For backing up data, a Datto appliance is placed on location, after which the data can be synchronised with the Datto Cloud. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR), in turn, provides technology to restore critical business components within minutes, such as infrastructure components locked by ransomware.

Datto approaches these activities separately, unlike other backup providers. Among the competition, backup and disaster recovery have evolved to speak of data management, referring to managing data in different locations (public clouds and on-premise). Datto sees this differently, however, partly because the focus is less on the public cloud. Datto’s own platform runs on the Datto Cloud, for which it uses colocations of existing data centres. Datto is firmly convinced of this approach; it integrates much less deeply with AWS and Microsoft Azure than other backup providers.

Integration message gets attention

All four core components eventually come up with different solutions, which makes the actual Datto portfolio quite extensive. Ideally, these separate solutions work well together. Because Datto has set up two of its four core activities by means of takeovers, but in reality, this is easier said than done. The companies behind Networking and Business Management now both fall under the parent organisation for just over two years. However, the products come with their own unique infrastructures. In practice, this resulted in products that worked well together from their own original company, but it did not yet integrate optimally with other Datto products.

During DattoCon, a small announcement was made to promote this, the long term strategy is of course to develop further integrations. The DattoCon announcement focuses specifically on switches, access points and Managed Power devices, which now have a native integration with RMM. This integration specifically relates to the Simple Networking Management Protocol (SNMP), a protocol that allows data from the network products to be sent to a solution such as RMM and, if necessary, action to be taken on it. In order to set up such a connection, MSPs normally had to go through a configuration process that took quite some time. Datto tackled this by building a specific Application Programming Interface (API) for it. This should be an example for the rest of the network portfolio, which in time should be fully API based.

Ultimately, the integration message is one that also focuses on third-party applications. The reality, of course, is that MSPs often use solutions that are best for them. They sometimes end up using Datto in combination with competing solutions from ConnectWise or Kaseya. Such an ecosystem has to be supported, is Datto’s opinion. The investments in this area result in integrations built by Datto, but it has also recently set up the Developer Program, for example. This program provides developers with resources to integrate applications from other IT suppliers with Datto technology.

Innovations at the detail level

The innovations that stand out at the moment mainly focus on building on integrations. Some of them promise to make the Datto solutions work better together, something that is necessary in view of the growing portfolio. The solutions also need to integrate more closely with third-party applications, as MSPs use technologies from a variety of suppliers. Datto is aware of that, trying to promote an open ecosystem. During DattoCon, for example, competitors were also to be found on the trading floor.

On a detailed level, the necessary innovations have also been implemented recently. As a result, the entire Datto portfolio is under development. The company intends to continue to do so in the coming period.