Keep the Training Wheels On: How Datto Makes Life Easier

Feb 26, 2016

Keep the Training Wheels On: How Datto Makes Life Easier

BY Melissa Stanton

Every child knows the terrorizing fear associated with removing the training wheels on his or her first bicycle. We can all recall the day that our fathers stood back and watched us ride away down the street – and sure, we had a couple scrapes and bruises but we were fine.

When it comes to a business continuity solution, however, the pressure is off. There is no need to worry about maintaining the device field as closely as one would have to if a build-your-own solution was utilized. That’s why Steven Saslow, Datto partner and founder and Vice President of Information Technology Group switched from a build-your-own BDR vendor to Datto over three years ago and never looked back.

Read on for some of the highlights as Rob Rae and Steven Saslow discuss making the switch from build-your-own solutions to Datto.

Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about the Information Technology Group?

“Sure,” Steven says, “Information Technology Group’s been in business for twenty five years. When we started the company we were small, really a three person company and we were basically engineers or architects is how we consider ourselves. Today we’re twenty people and we service customers, we have small customers anywhere from ten user networks, but most of our customers in the fifty to three hundred user range, and our sweet spot’s in that seventy five to one fifty range. We do it all, but we definitely have that sweet spot in what we like to work in. A little bit larger than traditional small business, but definitely a lot smaller than Enterprise.”

What were some of the things that were going through your minds when you decided to switch to Datto? What were some of the things that you started assessing? Was it a specific incident that maybe caused this to happen or was it an overall business decision? Maybe take us back to that moment when you’re like, “Enough is enough. We need to do something better.”

“It was actually a combination of an incident and a combination of watching what the industry is going through at that given point in time,” Steven says, “The interesting thing with our build our own solution, we were originally using (backup provider) as our engine and we figure our how this solution works and then we build our BDRs or our devices, we put them out in the field, and then the biggest problem that we had using that solution was what do we do with all of these images and how do we get them off site? That plagued us from day one. Having said that it was still a better solution than having a file based solution because our ability to recover, obviously, is much more comprehensive than just having file based backups, but it presented a lot of problems because it was difficult to walk into a customer and say, “Look, I’ve got the best backup solution that you can possibly imagine. Here’s what I can do. Here’s how I can recovery, and oh, by the way, you need ten times the storage that you have to begin with just to hold your backup.” It put us in an awkward position. We did it and we grew it, and that was all fine and good, and then I’ll talk a little bit about the incident we had. We had an accounting firm, it was actually a small firm that was about sixteen users, and they had that same solution I just described and they were backing up to removable hard drives. They had twenty removable hard drives. They were taking full images of this Hyper-V server, so it was one image every night. We weren’t doing incrementals or any of that stuff, but in theory we had everything that we needed. They were not a managed customer back at that particular point in time, and they ended up having a failure. The failure was catastrophic for them and the backup solution was not working, they had an internal person that was monitoring it, and because of that they ended up losing a year’s worth of data right in the middle of tax season. This happened about six years ago. It was absolutely unbelievable. The cost of recovery was extremely significant for them, and they are still to this day the poster child. Whenever I have somebody that questions whether or not they should do this, I give them that person’s number and say, “Call them. They’ll explain exactly what they were faced with.” That’s when we realized we needed to find something that not only would work, but something that was manageable and monitor-able that we would be able to look at a single pane of glass and actually be able to deal with. That’s when our haunches went up and we started looking at that point. I actually think it was about five years ago.”

We had this conversation a couple of days ago because you’re giving us a lot of insight as to some of the decision making that goes into the process when an MSP makes this transition, this leap. We’ve got a number of guys that are doing it, so any information that we can have to try and bridge that gap, close that gap of course is easy. During that conversation I mentioned to you that one of our competitors, a build-your-own solution, actually referred to Datto as, “It’s a great start, but once you’re ready to take the training wheels off, that’s where you need to have a build-your-own solution.” I mentioned that I was a little bit offended by that comment, and you actually reversed it on me and you actually said, “No, wait a minute. I think I want the training wheels.” Maybe if you can share that story that you shared with me.

“Yeah, exactly,” Steven says, “If I can prevent an engineer from falling on his bike because there are training wheels on it, that goes right back to what I just said in prior. That allows my engineer to work on something else that’s much more productive. This solution ... Why do you want to have something that’s more complicated than necessary? That makes no sense to me whatsoever. The easier it is to use, the better it is for everybody. When you strip down the training wheels and strip down everything else, the reality of it is this works underneath the hood. It works fine a hundred percent of the time. It’s also one of the few solutions that I’ve seen that actually works near one hundred percent of the time. If I can have training wheels on there, now it works a hundred percent of the time, that’s not nothing to do with the training wheels. The training wheels are having somebody manage it, so if what you’re looking for is to put a lot of time and resources into managing a solution, I guess you would want something more complicated. I didn’t understand it. It was funny when I heard it.”

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