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The “new Datto” outlines growth plans to MSPs

Datto CEO Austin McChord details product roadmap and messaging to MSPs, post-Autotask merger

Datto has unveiled an ambitious new roadmap for growing the business, following its merger with Autotask.

The company’s founder and CEO Austin McChord took to the stage at its annual customer event, Dattocon 18, to debut Datto’s expanded portfolio to 1600 managed service providers (MSPs), committing to a series of product releases and updates over the next 12 months.

The gathering in in Austin, Texas was also the first opportunity for McChord to reassure any concerned customers en masse following its acquisition by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners Management in 2017, and subsequent merger with IT management provider Autotask.

“So much has changed over the past year; that there’s a lot of uncertainty. Every time a company goes through M&A, everyone’s wondering, ‘will they still deliver? Or will they drown in the noise that transactions create,” McChord told Microscope at the event.

“So, for us it’s about delivering our promises, and I’m confident we can do it, but it’s an enormous amount of hard work to do.”

Datto has nearly doubled in size post-merger; McChord described it as “the world’s largest 100 percent MSP-focused business,” with 1400 employees across 22 offices, serving 14,000 MSP customers worldwide. Plus, since the start of 2018, Datto has signed up more than 1,900 new MSPs.

The CEO said Datto sets itself apart from the competition in that it has an “obsessive focus” on MSPs, and develops products solely for that market. The firm also broke ground on a new datacentre earlier this year, built solely to house MSP customers’ data.

“For Datto to be successful, our partners need to be successful. Not all the businesses that play in this space operate that way,” said McChord.

Big promises

While Datto has been historically known for its business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) products, the vendor today has a portfolio that also encompasses networking, business management and file sync and backup.

New features announced at Dattocon include a new server restoration tool, Rapid Rollback, as well as improvements to the Autotask PSA Task UI and a new Lifetime Warranty for all Datto Networking APs, switches, and managed power devices.

Moreover, McChord made “big promises” to accelerate the rate of innovation in the firm’s remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) platform – from the Autotask side – and to regularly deliver new features and capabilities across its portfolio.

He laid out a demanding program of quarterly feature updates that includes four new releases of the PSA over the coming year, while pledging to make “huge strides in delivering innovative features on the continuity side” and growing its networking business 

European growth plans

One of the most obvious benefits of the merger with Autotask is that Datto now has a much stronger footprint in the UK and Europe, gaining 200 employees and 3000-plus MSP customers across the region.

“One of the big assets that we got was [Autotask’s EMEA presence]. We’re really excited to have them at the helm for our EMEA operations,” said McChord.

Mark Banfield, SVP of Datto’s international sales, highlighted how the EMEA market is “really hot for BCDR” off the back of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the increasing frequency of cyber-attacks.

“There’s a huge demand,” he told Microscope. “A lot of small and medium business are waking up and realising their data isn’t safe, and they don’ have a business continuity plan. And it’s not just about getting your data back, it’s about continuing to operate.”

Once again Banfield highlighted how Datto’s BCDR platform is custom-built for MSPs, positioning it as a better option that piecemeal solutions: “Most MSPs have brought enterprise level service desk systems and tried to use it in an MSP environment, which is completely different to an internal IT help desk,” he said.

“BCDR allows them to build a significant recurring revenue stream by selling that solutions to their customers, and fuels that move into managed services.”

Banfield says Datto is now “doing a lot of aggressive hiring in EMEA”, across sales, engineering and support roles to drive its expansion beyond 2018.

MSPs’ seal of approval

Nigel Griffiths, COO of Datto customer Certus Technology Group, agrees the merger is good news for the UK's MSPs. “If there was one criticism of Datto in the UK historically is that they used to be very USA-centric in their sales and marketing support. The Autotask team in the UK are energetic and proactive and as far as I can see it will be that team taking Datto forward in the UK and Europe.”

Most MSP customers attending the event seemed pleased with Datto’s messaging, with many saying they were impressed by 33-year-old McChord’s ambitions for the company.

Paul Burns, CTO at Datto’s EMEA partner of the year, TSG, told Microscope the merger means “Autotask will now benefit from Austin’s relentless drive and enthusiasm for product and service improvement through an increased roadmap refresh frequency.”

He said in terms of market standing “this may take longer, but the good thing we will see is the Datto name being wider spread and more people trusting the brand ultimately. It should certainly now put them on the map.”

Austen Clark, MD of Clark Integrated Technologies, noted that McChord “has a hunger to drive the MSP industry.”

Speaking to Microscope he said, “this will be worth watching over the next year as he invests in development.

Referring to Datto’s pledge to work with an “open ecosystem” of vendors, Clark noted that “some of us were sceptical we have heard this before. Tech leaders slapping one another on the back yet having a switchblade in the other hand. He is different, and he has proven he is many times.”

The next challenge for Datto, McChord told Microscope, is “the work of delivering the promise. We want to get into everybody’s hands everything that we talked about.”

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