DattoCon17: My Thoughts on Datto’s Big Annual Conference

by | Jun 14, 2017

DattoCon17 just wrapped up last week in Denver, and I’ve been eager to share my thoughts on all the new product announcements. This is Datto’s big annual conference: three jam-packed days of training, news and insight, attended by technology professionals from more than 1,000 managed service providers around the globe. In the world of business continuity and data protection, DattoCon has become a can’t-miss event.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dig right in.

Overall Impressions from DattoCon17: Datto Continues to Innovate

Over the last decade, Datto has quickly gone from a relatively unknown startup to one of the biggest players in business continuity. From my standpoint, they’ve accomplished this by doing three things:

  • Developing new innovations in BCDR technology that makes data protection stronger, faster and more reliable (especially at a time when businesses are taking backups more seriously, due to emerging threats like ransomware).
  • Making enterprise-grade business continuity solutions accessible to all
  • Constantly looking ahead and pushing their product offerings beyond the traditional scope of business continuity to builder smarter IT infrastructure and failsafes that prevent operational downtime.

For me, DattoCon17 continued to drive those points home.

With their product offerings as is, the folks at Datto could have easily sat back, done nothing, and they’d probably continue to disrupt the BCDR market. But complacency is not in Datto’s repertoire. Austin McChord, the CEO of Datto, made it immediately clear that the company will continue to push their products to new limits.

From a high-level view, that means we can look forward to increases in performance and reliability, across the board. But also, Datto is making their solutions easier to deploy, manage and customize, so they fit the unique needs of each client.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics.

ALTO 3 – The Small Biz Lifesaver

For small businesses, the new ALTO 3 is arguably the most exciting announcement that came out of DattoCon17. ALTO is designed specifically for SMBs, providing what Datto calls “enterprise grade protection at a small business price.”

ALTO 3 represents the product’s first major update since 2014, with several notable improvements upon the previous version.

  • Hardware: ALTO 3 has a completely refreshed hardware configuration, which Datto says will double the performance and storage capacity of ALTO 2. The new version is built with a Seagate FireCuda drive, combining both NAND flash and traditional HDD technology. It’s configured with an Intel dual core i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, 2TB of SSHD storage, and it protects up to 4 source machines. Backup and recovery was already fast on the ALTO 2. But without a doubt, the new SSHD, combined with the new processing power, will make these processes even faster.
  • HIR on Virtualization: ALTO 3 now employs a virtualized, hardware-independent restore. This improves the backup performance by creating an image only upon the restore, rather than in the backup process. In addition to improving performance, this process will be less taxing on computing resources, thus allowing for more backups to be completed simultaneously.
  • VHDx Export: More recovery formats are always a good thing. ALTO 3 will now allow for full-system VHDx export, locally or from the Datto cloud, in addition to the existing virtualization formats, VMDK and VHD.
  • Retention Options: ALTO 3 is now available with Time Based Retention or Infinite Cloud Retention per-agent pricing options. This adds further flexibility to allow small businesses to choose the route that makes the most sense for their needs.

What I like about the ALTO 3 is that it shows Datto is serious about continuing to serve the small-business community, whose continuity concerns are just as important as large businesses. One BDR expert, in an interview with Computer Dealer News, called the new ALTO 3 “the perfect solution in a box for an affordable price that pretty much any small business can afford.” I couldn’t agree more.

SIRIS 3 – Already Fast, Now Even Faster

Datto has also announced several welcome updates to its blazingly fast SIRIS line, which is comprised of a range of appliances for medium to enterprise businesses.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Datto has released a completely new SIRIS 3 X Professional line, which is available in 4, 8 and 12TB 1U rack-mounted servers.
  • The all-flash/SSD S3X4 (4TB) joins the existing S3X1 (1 TB) and S3X2 (2 TB) devices, which were released last year.
  • Fast Failback: This is the kind of innovative thinking that I love about Datto. In the event of data loss, Fast Failback allows you to spin-up a virtual machine (VM) with a rescue agent. In Datto’s own words, “This agent forks the initial backup chain, providing restore from any agent recovery point, while requiring significantly less space than alternative solutions and returning business to normal operation faster than competitive alternatives.” Since there’s no need to create a new recovery image on the fly, this results in far less downtime.
  • SIRIS 3 will also get the HIR on Virtualization and VHDx export features that are now available on the ALTO 3.
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Datto SaaS Protection (formerly Backupify)

Back in 2014, I was excited to see Datto integrate Backupify’s SaaS backup technologies into its solutions after acquiring the company. Now, it looks like Datto is taking its SaaS backup offerings even further.

Datto will be gradually replacing Backupify with its new SaaS Protection cloud backup solution, which is built on a new, faster architecture for protecting Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite environments. Datto says the new architecture enables point-in-time back-up functionality with dramatically improved export and restore speeds.

The company also gave a sneak peek of a SaaS Protection appliance that will be released later this year. Powered by Intel Xeon processors and Intel’s Optane high-speed storage technology, the system will offer all the functionality of its hosted SaaS solution via an on-site (or data-center-based) device.

 

IRIS Architecture – The Lifeblood of Datto BCDR

This is more of a branding update, but it’s notable from a communication standpoint. The onboard OS and application stack on ALTO, SIRIS, and NAS devices is being rebranded as IRIS. This creates a clearer distinction between Datto’s hardware and software versions, which is especially useful during support calls and client demos. Less confusion = happier IT folks and customers.

Datto says that IRIS will also add new image-based updates to the software stack, which should significantly reduce the risk of errors during the update process.

Networking – Now with a Cloud-Managed Power Strip? Yep!

Datto’s push into networking is a prime example of how the company is thinking beyond the traditional scope of business continuity, which is usually focused too narrowly on data backup systems.

Datto announced its Network Continuity offerings a few months ago, but they revealed several big updates at DattoCon17:

  • DNA: The Datto Network Appliance, which simplifies SMB networking via a WiFi Edge Router with 4G LTE failover, will now perform QoS, Layer 7 Deep Packet inspection. This enables DNA to categorize traffic by application, so that users can prioritize their business-critical applications, especially during a disaster scenario.
  • Datto Managed Power: In a word: brilliant. Later this year, Datto will be releasing a cloud-managed power strip with an embedded access point. Datto Managed Power will give MSPs the ability to remotely perform power cycling, run scheduled reboots and check outlet wattage.
  • ConnectWise RMM: Along the same lines of remote monitoring and management, Datto has announced its networking products are now fully integrated with ConnectWise Automate RMM. This will allow ConnectWise partners to manage Datto access points, switches, and networking appliances. End result: greater visibility into network resources and more control, from anywhere.

 

Still More to Come – Stay Tuned
Two more quick updates I’d be remiss not to mention:

  • Interestingly, the announcement that created the most buzz at DattoCon17 was for a product that hasn’t even been fully developed yet: the Datto Desktop. Datto Desktop will be a high-performance thin client that will bring virtual desktop infrastructure to smaller businesses (those with roughly 10 users or fewer). These are businesses that don’t need a complex onsite IT infrastructure and could benefit from running their business-critical apps in the cloud. Keep an eye out for more updates on the Datto Desktop in the months ahead. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one!
  • Finally, I want to congratulate my team for winning the Datto Golden Award for Innovator of the Year! The award recognizes Invenio IT for its innovative approach to communicating the value of business continuity and also for providing an exceptional level of service to our clients. Big thanks to Datto, our clients and our wonderful people here at Invenio IT!

Check back for more updates on Datto’s newest offerings and features in the weeks to come.

Learn More

For more information on Datto business continuity solutions that can safeguard your data, contact our experts today at (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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