With Tiny Appliance, Datto Aims To Back Up Micro SMBs

Datto Inc. on Tuesday launched a small and inexpensive appliance called the ALTO that is designed to make enterprise backup, disaster recovery and business continuity affordable for the smallest businesses.

"It's a little bit larger than an Apple TV," said CEO and founder Austin McChord in an interview. For customers who agree to a one-year contract, there will be no upfront cost, according to McChord. "For the same cost as your smartphone, you can have enterprise-class data protection," he said.

The device is 5 inches by 5 inches and 1.77 inches thick. Inside that little box is an AMD E2-1800 1.7 GHz dual core processor, 8 GB of memory and up to 1 TB of Hitachi SATA drive technology for local storage.

Like Datto's higher-end appliances, the ALTO features image-based backup, instant off-site virtualization of failed systems to Datto's off-site servers, local virtualization options and bare metal restore. Other Datto features brought to the ALTO include screenshot backup verification, in which the appliance virtualizes a backup locally but off the network, snaps a screenshot of the restored log-on interface and e-mails the screenshot as a daily test. The ALTO also includes Datto's Inverse Chain Technology, which sets up a backup chain automatically. Based on the size of the devices and their needs, users can go in and delete unneeded backup points and the system will dynamically maintain the integrity of the chain.

A 6-year-old company, Datto has seen triple-digit year-over-year growth each year since focusing its sales efforts on managed services providers four years ago. Accordingly, the new device is being brought to market with MSPs in mind.

"Where we really see this product finding a market is in helping our MSPs expand their reach," McChord said.

The sweet spot for Datto's higher-end SIRIS appliance was businesses with 30-50 seats. "We saw that a lot of MSPs had smaller customers that we didn't have the right price point for," McChord said. "The ALTO product is for the 1-20 seat companies that really couldn't afford this type of data protection in the past."

He also doesn't anticipate buyer's remorse for larger organizations that bought the more expensive SIRIS devices. "I don't think there's too much overlap. The majority of our SIRIS sales tend to be 2 TB and up, and ALTO has a maximum of 1 TB of storage," he said.

Because the device is designed for smaller businesses than Datto has traditionally served, the company plans to release a raft of new marketing materials.

"We're going to be building more campaigns in a box and delivering more material for them. We'll probably have more marketing materials available initially than we did with SIRIS," said Dana Prestigiacomo, vice president of global marketing and chief marketing officer at Datto.

Prestigiacomo said volume will be key for Datto partners. "We think it's going to be easier for MSPs to sell a whole lot of [ALTOs] so they can generate the recurring revenue they want."


About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.