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ConnectWise, Infrascale Partnership: Where Is This BDR Relationship Heading?

ConnectWise Founder Arnie Bellini
Arnie Bellini

ConnectWise partners with roughly seven BDR (backup and disaster recovery) companies, and resells roughly six of those solutions to MSPs and technology solutions providers. But last week, the company briefly put one of those BDR partners -- Infrascale -- in the main-stage spotlight during IT Nation 2017, a major conference that attracted 3,500 attendees in Orlando, Fla.

So where is the ConnectWise-Infrascale relationship heading? To look ahead, it's important to first look back. ConnectWise's strong interest in the BDR sector dates back at least a decade.

  • By 2010, that interest intensified and ConnectWise Capital (the company's investment arm) announced a joint venture with CharTec. At the time CharTec's core focus was hardware as a service (HaaS).
  • But by 2011, CharTec itself was talking more about its own BDR offerings -- though the solutions never quite gained a massive following.
  • Around the same time, one of the MSP market's top BDR suppliers -- Zenith Infotech -- essentially collapsed amid a missed debt payment.

Next-generation BDR players swooped into the market to fill the void. Bellini and his team partnered with multiple BDR players as part of an integration strategy across ConnectWise Manage (PSA) and ConnectWise Automation (RMM). But one upstart BDR player -- Datto -- seemingly moved ahead of the pack with an all-in MSP strategy backed by venture capital investors.

Fast forward to October 2017, and the recent Datto-Autotask merger announcement surfaced. Datto CEO Austin McChord will run the combined company -- which will compete with ConnectWise in the PSA and RMM sectors, while partnering on the BDR and network management front.

ConnectWise and Infrascale: Growing Relationship?

And that, my friends, brings us to IT Nation 2017 -- and the growing relationship between ConnectWise and Infrascale. On the one hand, ConnectWise continues to work with seven BDR players -- including Datto. But during a few minutes of ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini's IT Nation keynote last week, Infrascale essentially enjoyed "most favorite nation" status.

More than traditional BDR, Infrascale positions itself as a full-blown disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) provider. If a customer suffers an outage, Infrascale claims it can fire up a fully recovered, cloud-based virtual network in a matter of minutes. (Rivals like eFolder-Axcient have similar messaging in some areas, and Carbonite is preparing a DRaaS launch in the first half of 2018, ChannelE2E reported yesterday.)

Infrascale's core offerings include Cloud Backup -- positioned as an enterprise-grade, direct-to-cloud backup solution which protects servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones in one solution, the company asserts. Cloud Backup offers encryption services, geo-location, remote wipe features and anomaly detection, which alerts users if any of their devices have potentially fallen victim to a ransomware attack.

True believers include Cal Net, a major MSP that's consolidating multiple storage management services and largely standardizing on Infrascale's platform.

ConnectWise-Infrascale Integration

Ken Shaw

As part of the ConnectWise relationship, Infrascale integrates deeply with ConnectWise Manage. The connections include:

  • Bi-Directional Support Tickets. This delivers automated ticket closure. Whenever Infrascale Cloud Backup or Infrascale Disaster Recovery generate system alerts, support tickets are automatically created in ConnectWise Manage. Or when those alarms are resolved, the related support tickets in ConnectWise are automatically closed, the companies say.
  • Billing Events. Client data, including the number and type of computers (servers, endpoints, and more), amount of storage consumed (subscribed, allocated, and used) and other billing-relevant data are available in ConnectWise Manage to facilitate invoicing and billing, the companies say.
  • Inventory and Reporting. With this integration, the number and type of computers and on-premise appliances associated with a client's BDR account are available in ConnectWise Manage for asset tracking and usage, the companies add.

Infrascale CEO Ken Shaw and Chief Revenue Officer Bill Falk (a Datto and Kaseya veteran) drove home those points during numerous meetings at last week's conference. During a security-centric panel, Shaw also described how Infrascale is helping MSPs to mitigate ransomware.

Showmanship or Something More?

In some ways, Bellini's main-stage mention of Infrascale was showmanship -- an unspoken but clear shot across the bow of Datto and Autotask. Still, it was a brief mention. And ConnectWise can't afford to abandon its established BDR software partners. We suspect those relationships will remain fruitful for years to come.

And what about the Datto-ConnectWise relationship? Think of it this way: Oracle and Microsoft compete head-on in the relational database market. Yet they also cooperate closely to ensure Oracle's database runs incredibly well on Windows Server and Microsoft Azure. I suspect the same will remain true for the Datto-ConnectWise integration -- even as Datto merges with Autotask, and ConnectWise partners with roughly six other BDR players... including Infrascale.

Additional reporting by Ty Trumbull.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.