Don’t Call It MSP Backup Anymore

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Amid Carbonite's buyout of Double-Take Software and Datto's acquisition of Open Mesh, the days of traditional backup services are over. Just about every major channel-friendly backup provider has embraced MSPs while rounding out their portfolios with business continuity, disaster recovery, data protection and availability services.

Among the M&A deals and product launches that have influenced the landscape over the past year or so...

1. Acronis: Now led by former Parallels executives, Acronis has caught on with cloud services providers while also expanding toward software-defined storage. CEO Serguei Beloussov also evangelizes how Blockchain technology will fundamentally change how data is protected.

2. Autotask: Better known for its PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management) offerings, Autotask launched Endpoint Backup in 2016. It's closely related to Autotask Workplace -- a file sync and sharing technology for IT service providers.

3. Barracuda Networks: After acquiring Intronis MSP Solutions in 2015, Barracuda Networks has quickly blurred the line between backup, data protection and IT security. CEO BJ Jenkins says MSPs are now the heart of the company's partner strategy.

4. Carbonite: Acquisitions like Double-Take and EVault have pushed Carbonite far beyond its consumer heritage. SMB customers now dominate Carbonite's revenue stream. And cloud-centric backup services now feature on-premises appliances. Also, Carbonite has successful recruited midmarket MSPs.

5. Continuum: The MSP platform provider has blurred the lines between business continuity, RMM and NOC (network operations center) services. Instead of managing each of those function areas, MSPs outsource the BDR, RMM and NOC services to Continuum. Up next: A potential security operations center (SOC) offering for MSPs, CEO Michael George has hinted.

6. eFolder: Tuck-in acquisitions like Anchor Networks (file sync and sharing) and Replibit (disaster recovery) and Cloudfinder (SaaS backup) have gradually transformed eFolder in recent years. Sometime in 2016 the company became cash flow positive, and plans are now underway to centralize the core team in Denver. Channel Chief Francois Daumard arrived in October 2016.

7. Datto: A rare "unicorn" that has a $1 billion valuation while generating profits, Datto has aggressively expanded from business continuity to networking. The overall theme: Total data protection, regardless of where your data resides and how you want to access it. The Datto Networking business unit launch was more than a year in the making. And the Open Mesh acquisition proves that Datto's board -- and investors -- are serious about long-term growth. If I had to guess, Datto likely has the largest ecosystem MSPs focused on data protection. Though I don't know if StorageCraft can potentially make the same claim...

8. StorageCraft: A private equity firm acquired StorageCraft and hired new executive leadership in 2016. The deals didn't stop there. CEO Matt Medeiros engineered the Exablox and Gillware acquisitions. The channel-first business now boasts complete storage solutions that can protect desktops, physical and virtual infrastructure. StorageCraft has a massive MSP and VAR channel, and partner program enhancements have arrived steadily since last year.

9. SolarWinds MSP: SolarWinds acquired LogicNow in mid-2016 and merged it with the N-able Technologies business to create SolarWinds MSP. Most folks focused on the company's RMM (remote monitoring and management) offerings. But one of big opportunities has also involved SolarWinds MSP promoting LogicNow's BDR platform to the entire SolarWinds MSP partner base.

10. Veeam: An updated partner program seeks to accelerate Veeam's momentum across multiple market segments -- small business, midmarket, enterprise, etc. The Veeam On 2017 conference -- set for May -- should reveal more partner updates...

11. Veritas: Together, Symantec and Veritas never lived up to their promise as a security and storage powerhouse. The divorce arrived in 2016 when Symantec sold Veritas. Adding insult to injury, the sale price was about $1 billion less (in terms of cash) than Symantec originally expected. Still, Veritas by late 2016 launched NetBackup 8.0 and an integrated Enterprise Data Management solution to help organizations manage data in the cloud and extract new business value as they transform for the future. We're watching to see if midmarket and enterprise partners embrace the offering.

12. Whom Did I Miss?: I know the backup and disaster recovery markets are filled with additional players. Did we overlook any of the key players and moves that are reshaping the industry -- particular with regard to VARs and MSPs?

What Does All That Mean?

Reread each company move and you'll see a few trends that have moved the MSP backup market into new directions.

Chief among them:

  1. Converged Solutions:  The lines between storage, networking and security are blurring. Customers are craving anywhere, anytime access to data. That requires robust, secure network connections along with proper data safeguards. MSPs can't manage one piece of the experience (example storage). Instead, they need to manage the end-to-end experience.
  2. Partners Remain Critical: Seven of the 10 companies above are partner first and partner centric across every piece of their businesses. Admittedly, Barracuda, Carbonite and Veritas also have heavy direct sales components. But Barracuda and Carbonite in particular have been doubling down on MSPs over the past year.
  3. Where Are the Enterprise Players?: Generally speaking, massive technology companies have largely overlooked MSP-centric backup and business continuity opportunities, particularly in the SMB sector. Dell gave it a try with AppAssure, but ultimately sold that business as part of the Quest Software asset sale. The Spanning business, owned by Dell EMC, remains one to watch.

Of course, the lists above are subject to change -- especially as more M&A potentially arrives in 2017...

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.