After a year-long wait, Datto is expected to more fully discuss the Datto Network Appliance (DNA) at this week's DattoCon16 in Tennessee. DNA's forthcoming launch (I don't know the date) is part of a bigger IT industry effort to shake up the WiFi network, router and switch markets. This is more than an SMB market shakeup. Emerging offerings like Eero, Luma and Google OnHub want to revolutionize -- and simplify -- home networks.
ChannelE2E mentioned in October 2015 that the sleepy WiFi router and switch market awaited a wakeup call. Fast forward to present day and perhaps the wakeup call has finally arrived. Here's what's happening:
1. Datto DNA: As previously announced, Datto DNA will target MSPs that support SMB customers. Datto is attempting to extend beyond backup, disaster recovery and storage into the networking sector. The overall vision involves total data protection for SMB customers -- delivered by MSPs. We expect to potentially share more DNA details at DattonCon this week, though we don't know Datto's longer-term plans for an official launch date.
2. Eero: The company's tagline cuts to the point: "Finally, WiFi that works." With Eero, consumers plug one device into a cable modem. Additional Eeros -- spread out across a home or office -- plug into standard electric outlets. Each device connects to an Eero wireless mesh network. The company raised $50 million in May 2016, and said the devices would soon be available from Best Buy. Customers can purchase the 3-pack, which is recommended for the average home, for a suggested retail price of $499, or a single Eero for a suggested retail price of $199. Positioned for consumers, it's a safe bet Eeros devices will pop up into small businesses.
3. Luma: An emerging Eero alternative that's closely aligned with Amazon. The company's mission is to "create the fastest, simplest, most secure, and most reliable home network that’s equipped for the technology of today, and tomorrow." Amazon invested in Luma in April 2016, and Luma will soon be available for purchase on Amazon.com.
4. Google OnHub: Another emerging home WiFi alternative. The device got off to a mixed to poor start, but more recent OnHub reviews have praised the device. And it could fit in nicely with Google's emerging IoT (Internet of Things) strategy in the consumer market -- though even that has undergone recent executive changes.
SMB, SoHo WiFi Networks: Falling Behind the Times?
Within homes, consumers want fast, simple, reliable, secure WiFi connectivity. Critics claim traditional SoHo and SMB WiFi router makes -- names like D-Link, LinkSys and NetGear -- haven't kept pace with those demands. (Admittedly, we still have to reach out to those companies to give them some equal time on the topic; stay tuned for that.)
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have stepped in to fill the void. Eero and Luma, in particular, are expected to wage an innovation war as the products begin to reach online retailers and consumer destinations like Best Buy. I don't know just how aggressive Google will respond with OnHub.
Meanwhile, in the SMB sector Datto is set to make a run with DNA. You can find preliminary DNA details on Datto's website. And you can expect Datto to offer a single management dashboard across backup and network administration. But we'll all need to stay tuned for more thoughts at DattoCon16.
SMB, Consumer WiFi Networks Converge
Will Datto DNA compete head-on against Eero, Luma and Google OnHub. The answer is no. And yes.
Let's be clear: Datto DNA, once launched, will target MSPs that support SMB customers. Eero, Luma and Google OnHub are pursuing consumers. But we all know the lines between consumer and SMB IT have blurred. And in many cases, they have disappeared. So in some ways, Datto DNA could wind up competing against bring-you-own-device WiFi networks in the office, in particular.
Either way, the sleepy WiFi networking market is finally getting a wakeup call across the consumer and SMB segments.