Datto DNA: An Inside Look at the New Datto Network Appliance

by | Apr 18, 2017

Internet outages and network downtime can be extremely costly for businesses—especially when their critical operations depend on being connected. For the past several years, Datto has been helping businesses minimize their downtime with a suite of data backup and disaster recovery solutions. But with the new Datto Network Appliance (DNA), the company is taking business continuity a step further.

Datto’s next-generation router is designed to give organizations uninterrupted access to data on site, in transit and in the cloud. Features like automatic 4G wireless failover and cloud-managed configurations help to ensure that a business stays up and running, even when Internet is down.

To understand just how significant this technology is, you need to first consider the unique challenges that businesses face today.

The Challenge of Moving to the Cloud

It’s no secret that more businesses are moving their data – and in many cases their entire infrastructure – to the cloud. Moving data off-site can help to significantly reduce IT costs, while also ensuring a better disaster recovery system. When disaster strikes, businesses can restore data backed up in the cloud, from virtually anywhere.

But what good is having your data in the cloud if you can’t access it?

  • What happens if the Internet goes down?
  • What if the ISP is suddenly unreliable?
  • What if the hard line to the ISP is damaged or cut?
  • Is it worth it to pay for a redundant ISP connection?

The problem with moving everything to the cloud is that you suddenly lose access to all your data if you lose access to the Internet. And without data, many businesses are dead in the water.

One partial solution is leveraging a hybrid cloud backup technology, which safely stores backups both onsite and in the cloud. But that’s not an option for every business. Plus, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem: the Internet outage. That outage alone can be especially costly when teams can’t send/receive email or access their business-critical apps.

This is where the Datto Network Appliance can play such a huge role in maintaining business continuity.

Datto Network Appliance Snapshot

Datto DNA is a high-performance edge router that offers 4G LTE failover and fallback, managed in the cloud.

In a 2015 interview, Datto CEO Austin McChord explained, “We launched Datto DNA because literally one-third of all our support tickets are due to bad network configurations. We think we can offer a much better product than what customers are used to these days.”

Datto isn’t kidding when it says this router is “everything a network needs in a single, compact device.” The Datto Network Appliance makes it easy for a business (or managed service provider) to easily set up a network. You simply connect it to an external ISP and it’s ready to deploy. It comes pre-configured right out of the box. The router also includes WiFi, firewall, intrusion detection and cyberattack prevention.

Before we look at the specs, let’s take a closer look at perhaps the most critical feature: the wireless failover.

Uninterrupted Connectivity

For many businesses, losing Internet is no longer an option.

The Datto Networking Appliance has a fully integrated 4G LTE radio. When an Internet outage happens, whether it’s because of an ISP failure, a damaged hardline or other reason, the appliance reconnects via 4G LTE. It detects the loss of Internet and switches over automatically to Verizon Wireless 4G LTE.

You might assume this would require the business to maintain an additional carrier contract with Verizon, but nope. It comes free with the device. There are no carrier contracts and no overages or fees with standard use.

Automatic Internet Failback

Automation is a key feature of the appliance. By automatically detecting an Internet outage, and when a connection has been restored, it eliminates the need to manually assess the problem or reconfigure any settings. It all happens automatically, saving time and resources, especially in a disaster situation.

The Datto DNA router falls back to its primary Internet connection just as seamlessly as it detects the initial outage.

In failover mode, the router will continue pinging the primary WAN interface (and a secondary WAN, if equipped). Once Internet has been restored and is stable, the appliance will switch from 4G back to the primary connection.

Stopping Cyberattacks in Their Tracks

Datto understands the increasingly dangerous threat of cyberattacks on today’s businesses. Unwanted intrusions are one of the culprits of connectivity loss, among a host of other costly damage. All it takes is one successful attack to take down a network and grind your operations to a halt.

The Datto Networking Appliance has built-in security features to detect and thwart such attacks, including:

  • Layer 2 protocol analysis
  • Unified Threat Management system that actively identifies packets that shouldn’t be there and also prevents them from affecting the network
  • Prevention of port-scanning
  • Malware detection via signature-based rule files
  • Web filtering to prevent unwanted access by malicious sites
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This built-in protection can stop an attack in its tracks, preventing a breach before any damage is done to the network or the data passing through it.

The Firewall Capabilities Today’s Networks Demand

Your network is only as good as the firewall that protects it. So not surprisingly, Datto has also paid special attention to building an iron-clad firewall to further prevent unwanted cyberattacks.

In addition to stateful packet inspection, advanced security features in Datto DNA include port forwarding, DMZ host, client VPN using IPSec IKEv2, site-to-site VPN and VLAN segregation.

It makes sense for Datto to make its router as impenetrable as can be. As a leader in business continuity, the company has seen first-hand how cyberattacks can devastate an ill-prepared business. That’s why it recently added ransomware detection into its data backup technologies – to make it even easier for a business to rollback to clean data after an infection, thus minimizing downtime. With Datto DNA, the company wants to stop attacks from happening in the first place.

Austin McChord provided some interesting insight into the company’s thinking in another interview about DNA last year:

“If you look at ransomware it ends up being the No. 1 reason that we do restores right now. We’re the option of last resort when somebody gets infected by ransomware. But if we could build products that get ahead of it and block it from ever occurring, that would be so much better. We should be in a position to block it right on the front end. We’re in an amazing position because we have all of this data. We can isolate and look at thousands of ransomware incidents across our customers. And when you start to aggregate that information, can we use that information to block ransomware before it gets into the next customer? And those are the places where you start to see the DNA and the DR story starting to overlap.”

This is where Datto is breaking new ground – with fully integrated technologies that not only restore data and networks after an attack, but also effectively prevent intrusions from occurring.

Monitor and Configure from Anywhere

From a configuration standpoint, the beauty of the Datto Networking Appliance is its cloud management capabilities. It has a comprehensive, web-based management interface that can be accessed from a web browser. This interface is designed to make it even easier to manage and configure the network – thus reducing the need for onsite service calls.

The full-featured cloud management system enables you to set up, monitor and manage all networks connected to the appliance, including WAN, LAN and WiFi.

It also features a network Health Widget, for an at-a-glance look at the status of the network. Users can view what ports are active and configured. They can see the status of the WiFi network. They can even access a graphical representation of total network usage.

And while the interface is easy to use, it has a robust slate of security options and settings to meet the needs of larger businesses.

Datto DNA Specs

If you’re comparing edge routers for your business, here are the key specs you’ll want to know about the Datto network device (model DNA-VZ4):

  • Input/Output: 6 built-in 10/100/1000 Ethernet Ports, 2 dedicated WAN Ports, 4 configurable VLAN Ports
  • Processor: 8 Core 2.4 GHz Intel Processor
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR3
  • Hard Drive: 32 GB Industrial Compact Flash
  • WiFi: 3x3 MIMO N Type 2.4/5GHz
  • Wireless Connectivity: Multi-band Cat4 Radio (LTE), Verizon Wireless (U.S. only)

Preparing for Disaster

These days, a prolonged internet outage will easily constitute a disaster for most businesses. Preparing for such a connectivity loss needs to be part of your business continuity planning.

Implementing technology like the DNA router, in conjunction with a dependable backup system, will ensure you maintain access to the Internet and your business-critical data, no matter where it’s stored.

Get More Information

For more information on Datto DNA or other business continuity solutions that can help your organization reduce costs and eliminate network downtime, talk to the experts at Invenio IT. Learn more at www.invenioIT.com, call (646) 395-1170 or email [email protected].

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.

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