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MSP Conferences Merge: DattoCon, Autotask Community Live Come Together

Datto Founder Austin McChord
Datto CEO Austin McChord

Datto's two flagship events -- DattoCon18 and Autotask Community Live -- are merging, potentially creating the world's largest "open" MSP-centric event. But there are clues that the title may be difficult to win and/or maintain over the long haul, since ConnectWise has acquired HTG and may ultimately align the ConnectWise IT Nation conference with HTG Q4 events at some point in the future.

Both DattoCon and IT Nation rank among the Top 50 Channel Partner Conferences for 2018, ChannelE2E announced in December. The two events are comfortably situated about five months from each other, which gives mutual Datto and ConnectWise partners ample time to potentially attend both events. Still, perceived competition between the gatherings could be growing.

DattoCon 2018 Strategy

First, a look at Datto's strategy: When Datto and Autotask merged in late 2017, ChannelE2E openly speculated that the two companies may unite their major partner conferences under a single umbrella.

DattoCon18 remains set for June 2018. Autotask Community Live was scheduled for September 2018. Now, the two events will come together under the DattoCon umbrella at that June conference. 

More than 1,200 managed service providers (MSPs) will gather for DattoCon18, Datto predicts -- while labeling the event an "open" conference. In terms of DattoCon’s commitment to being open, the company offered this statement: “New this year: All vendors will have the opportunity to sponsor the event.” 

Without mentioning rival IT Nation by name, Datto is essentially pointing out that ConnectWise bars some rivals from its conference. It's a common practice in the vendor-led IT conference world, where Microsoft, VMware and others sometimes block each other from events for competitive reasons.

Datto, meanwhile, is taking a different course and opening DattoCon to all interested sponsors. According to a prepared statement from Datto CEO Austin McChord:

“By combining the Datto and Autotask teams, we are going to be able to deliver something incredible for our partners and the MSP community as a whole at DattoCon this year. This conference will be our largest and best yet. What I am most excited about this year, is the huge focus on openness. Whether you use our products or not, we want to welcome all MSPs and vendors. We are showing the world that MSPs are the future when it comes to how IT is delivered.”

 The agenda, according to the company, will include:

  • Autotask and Datto executive and industry keynotes 
  • Peer-led product training and strategic business-building sessions 
  • Unique networking opportunities 
  • A sponsor showcase featuring the IT industry’s best solutions

In terms of DattoCon's commitment to being open, the company offered this statement: "New this year: All vendors will have the opportunity to sponsor the event." 

ConnectWise IT Nation: The Numbers & Strategy

ConnectWise Founder Arnie Bellini

ConnectWise, meanwhile, continues to enjoy very strong success with IT Nation. The 2017 event attracted more than 3,500 attendees -- though I don't know what percentage were MSPs and technology solutions providers (TSPs). Also, some rival technology companies have not been permitted to sponsor or attend the event in recent years. Datto, however, was welcomed to IT Nation 2017 even amid the Autotask acquisition.

"ConnectWise welcomed Datto at IT Nation 2017 and remains committed to an open ecosystem with choices for our partners in 2018," CEO Arnie Bellini told ChannelE2E today.

Looking ahead, I sense that IT Nation may evolve in some ways -- including closer alignment with the HTG Q4 gathering, during which MSP peer groups from across the globe come together in Orlando, Florida.

A few years ago, IT Nation and HTG's Q4 conference were closely aligned and held at the same facility. But more recently, the conferences have been held a week or so apart at separate Orlando venues. That could be set to change down the road. When discussing the recent HTG acquisition with ChannelE2E, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini last week indicated that the IT Nation and HTG Q4 conference could be more closely aligned in the future -- though the company had to explore existing conference commitments. At the same time, ConnectWise continues to host Automation Nation, a more technology-centric event that's set for the same date as DattoCon in 2018.

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.