Channel partner programs, Business continuity, Storage

MSP Backup: Autotask, Continuum Target Datto BDR

Mark Cattini
Mark Cattini
New VeriShip CEO Michael George

Autotask and Continuum this week are hosting their respective MSP conferences in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Boston, Mass. While the companies are quite different in many ways, they also have a common target: Datto, the fast-growing BDR (backup and disaster recovery) unicorn.

Autotask Endpoint Backup debuted earlier this week. The platform is based on code from the 2015 SoonR buyout, and aims to protect PC and notebook data. Autotask's PSA and RMM solutions can manage the AEB offering. Meanwhile, Continuum CEO Michael George today predicted tough times for BDR companies that license technology and build their own clouds. It was a thinly veiled poke at Datto's self-built clouds and licensing deal with StorageCraft.

Neither the Autotask nor Continuum keynotes mentioned Datto by name, but the market realities -- and competitive posturing -- are undeniable.

Datto has been in fast-growth mode over the past few years. The company raised $75 million and achieved unicorn status (a $1 billion valuation) in 2015. At the time, CEO Austin McChord indicated that the company was profitable. The company's continued growth has inspired a range of competitive moves.

Autotask's Backup Strategy

Autotask CEO Mark Cattini's keynote included a slide that hinted more MSP-type offerings will surface over time. The portfolio includes core tools that MSPs consume (PSA, RMM) and newer offerings that Autotask's partners resell to customers -- particularly file sync and sharing, and file-level endpoint backup.

Poke around and multiple sources from all sides of the industry will tell you the Autotask and Datto relationship is strained. The turbulence started when Datto launched a freemium file sync and sharing platform called Datto Drive. It essentially competes with Autotask Workplace (the rebranded SoonR) and eFolder Anchor (another MSP-centric option).

Now, Autotask is returning fire -- at least in part -- with the Autotask Endpoint Backup offering (AEB). Senior VP of Workplace Channels Len DiCostanzo has built out a "robust" playbook to help MSPs resell the backup offering. MSPs can position the platform as "personal data continuity," DiCostanzo says, because AEB constantly protects a user's notebook and/or PC files.

It's unclear if Autotask has plans to launch a full-blown BDR platform that also protects all types of servers (Windows, Linux, etc.). However, some MSPs already use the AEB platform to protect some servers, Autotask indicated at the conference.

Continuum's Backup Strategy

Continuum CEO Michael George, meanwhile, continues to evangelize the company's Continuity247 platform (acquired in the R1Soft buyout of 2014). During today's keynote, George mentioned Continuum's complete control of the Continuity247 code base, and its ability to run on public clouds like IBM Cloud. Plus, he noted, Continuum's NOC (network operations center) manages Continuity247 for the company's MSPs.

The net result? George says Continuum's BDR platform will scale faster and face fewer hurdles than alternative options from rivals, some of which build their own clouds and don't control all of the IP in their software stacks.

That's George's way of alleging Datto's model (home-grown clouds, and a StorageCraft relationship) isn't as efficient for MSPs. Datto has previously denied such assertions, maintaining that the company controls its scalability and IP destiny.

Additional BDR Moves

Meanwhile, plenty of additional BDR moves are unfolding in the MSP market. Among the names to know.

Still, many eyes are on Datto. Rivals want to squeeze the company before Datto has a chance to potentially diversify its revenue streams beyond backup and into security, networking and unified threat management. (Keep an eye out for the Datto Network Appliance launch...)

Both Autotask and Continuum, at separate partner conferences this week, are making their backup cases to MSPs. We'll be watching to see how many MSPs embrace the messaging...

PS: Anybody else notice Druva just raised more than $50 million and seems to be marching toward and IPO? ... ... ...

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.