CRN Exclusive: Datto CEO McChord On Expanding Into Networking And Security To Build Opportunities For MSPs

Datto In Constant Remake Mode To Widen Its Support For The MSP Channel

Datto is a company going through massive changes to itself as part of a plan to make it an indispensable part of the MSP channel. The company, best known as a developer of data protection technology for MSPs, has in the past few years made two major technology acquisitions that have made it a major player in the networking and security markets. At DattoCon last week, the company also unveiled plans to enter the virtual desktop business. And, as with everything the company does, this is all being done specifically to make it a more valuable part of the MSP business.

Datto CEO Austin McChord sat down with CRN during DattoCon to talk about the company’s technology expansion and how it ties in with Datto’s maniacal focus on the MSP business. Here’s how a small company, just turning into a midsize business, hopes to take on the IT industry’s biggest storage, security, and networking companies.

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Pure Storage Execs Commit To Leading Flash Storage Tech To Meet Cloud And Data Center Demands For Massive Capacity, Performance

Flash storage is becoming the centerpiece of the modern data center and the cloud as new IT applications require increasing levels of performance and reliability. That’s the word from the executive team at Pure Storage this week, as the company hosts Pure Accelerate 2017 in San Francisco.

Pure Storage President David Hatfield used the conference venue as an analogy to show the shift from old storage infrastructure to the leading-edge storage all-flash storage. Built in 1883 as an iron manufacturing facility, Pier 70, located in San Francisco’s Potrero Point neighborhood, is set to be demolished soon to make way for a new technology complex.

[Related: Pure Storage Aims For The Enterprise, Cloud Storage Business With Major Software Updates]

“Hopefully there will be some shiny new condos to house the employees of the future,” Hatfield said.

The location, near an old shipyard that had been in use since the Gold Rush, proved to be an obstacle for attendees, many of whom were late because of a shortage of busses prepared to bring them to Pier 70, Hatfield said. “When you set up an event like this in a crack area, it’s difficult,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t have said that.”

Hatfield said Pure Storage could not experience the growth it has without the help of channel partners and technology partners. In particular, he called out data protection software vendor Veeam which this week said it will include Pure Storage APIs in the new version of its software in order to provide easy native protection of data on his company’s all-flash storage arrays.

He also said that the FlashStack converged infrastructure, which combines Pure Storage storage and Cisco UCS servers and networking, already has over 1,400 customers. FlashStack sales are seeing a 70-percent year-over-year growth, he said.

Hatfield also said that Pure Storage and Cisco will shortly offer high-performance NVMe flash storage over fabric in conjunction with Cisco UCS servers, and that the two are planning to develop a full utility-based offering using FlashStack.

Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen (pictured above) then addressed the audience noting that while Pure Storage has made several advances with its FlashBlade and FlashArray//X systems, the company this year is focused on bringing the full set of enterprise features to its software.

“We’ve been holding out on you,” Dietzen said. “We have two years of software innovation we want to show you.”

Pure Storage expects to cross the $1 billion revenue threshold this year, the company’s sixth year of shipping, and will be cash-flow positive for the year, Dietzen said. “And we’re the first new storage company to cross that threshold in 20 years,” he said.

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Q1 Server Market: Dell EMC Gains Ground On No. 1 HPE

Scrapping For Share As The Market Slows

Dell EMC was the only major vendor to notch server revenue and shipment growth in the first quarter as a market waiting for the next major processor and moving away from high-end hardware handed Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo declines that were in some cases dramatic.

Worldwide server revenue declined 4.6 percent year over year in the first quarter, according to research firm IDC. IDC said the slowdown is the result of customers, especially hyper-scale service providers, waiting for Intel’s new Skylake processors to hit the market later this year, as well as dramatically rising memory prices and the market’s continued move away from high-end servers.

Server shipments were up 1.4 percent year over year during the quarter, according to IDC. Dell EMC saw minimal growth in shipments, while Chinese data center upstarts Huawei and Inspur both increased shipments by double digits year over year.

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Pure Storage Aims For The Enterprise, Cloud Storage Business With Major Software Updates

Pure Storage

All-flash storage vendor Pure Storage Tuesday expanded the software that accompanies its high-performance hardware with advanced clustering and quality-of-service capabilities.

The company also used its Pure//Accelerate 2017 conference, held this week in San Francisco, to unveil a number of hardware updates to its all-flash storage arrays.

The changes come as innovation in the software capabilities of all-flash storage has struggled to keep up with improvements in the sheer performance of the hardware, said Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of products for the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Pure Storage CEO Dietzen On Pure’s Software Focus, Profitability Goals And HCI Views]

“Tier-one storage offers the highest flexibility and performance, but not the fastest innovation,” Kixmoeller told CRN. “We want to end the compromise. We’re bringing in technology to close the gap.”

Pure Storage is doing just that with the introduction of its Purity//FA 5.0 software, the latest version of the company’s software for managing data and services with its all-flash hardware, Kixmoeller said.

The biggest addition to the Purity//FA software is ActiveCluster, a new active-active metro stretch cluster capability that allows an application to run synchronously in two data centers up to 150 miles apart, or on separate racks within the same data center, Kixmoeller said.

For example, he said, a customer running Oracle Real Application Clusters on eight servers could have four of the servers in one data center and four in another. “If there’s a disruption in one data center, the application keeps running in the other,” he said.

Purity//FA 5.0’s ActiveCluster deploys quickly with only four commands and does not require the addition of a third-party server or cloud to mediate between the two parts of the clusters.

“This is the last of the high-end resiliency services that we have not had before at Pure Storage,” he said.

The quality-of-service capability of Purity//FA 5.0 can now be assigned on a per-volume basis, Kixmoeller said.

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IDC: Q1 Storage Sales Shows Huge Shift From Enterprise To Cloud

The Shifting Focus Of Storage

The storage market appears to be making a big shift away from traditional enterprise storage vendors to the hyper-scale data center companies, according to the first quarter edition of IDC’s 2017 Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker.

Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC said total worldwide enterprise storage revenue in the first quarter was $9.2 billion, down slightly from the first quarter of 2016 despite a massive 41.4 percent increase in capacity shipped over the past year.

Three of the top five storage vendors – Dell EMC, HPE, and Hitachi – saw significant drops in their storage revenue in the first quarter compared to last year, while NetApp saw a huge jump and IBM grew a bit, according to IDC.

But the biggest change was a nearly 80 percent jump in the amount of storage that went to what IBM calls ODM direct, which primarily includes hyper-scale data center companies including the top public cloud vendors and cloud-based application providers, showing a solid shift in the way businesses and consumers consume storage capacity.

For a look at what happened during the first quarter of 2017, keep reading.

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Datto CEO Previews New Products, Tools To Help MSPs Reach SMBs

Datto CEO Austin McChord, with the help of a few Datto engineers, used his Tuesday keynote presentation at DattoCon to offer a look at what the company has planned for its MSP partners.

Those plans include a move to give MSPs a virtual desktop infrastructure that will help them provide services to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses they may not be able to reach now, as well as a new managed power strip to help them reboot servers and desktops without sending a technician to customer sites.

McChord presented the look forward, as well as several new products now just coming to market, at DattoCon, which is being held this week in Denver. Datto said about 1,000 MSPs are at the conference.

[Related: Datto Welcomes MSPs To DattoCon With Major Enhancements To Its Data Protection Technology]

Datto, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has nine data centers worldwide storing 320 TBs of customer data on its own cloud, and is working with over 6,400 MSPs managing over 150,000 active deployments, McChord said

The keynote stage at DattoCon.

The company has led the market with several of what McChord called “industry firsts” for data protection including screenshot verification, local and cloud integration, hybrid virtualization, time-based retention, all-flash backup and disaster recovery appliances, and ransomware detection.

“All of this has been driven by a decade of innovation,” he said.

Datto’s goal is to build the best MSP solutions available, and make them simple, McChord said. “That is what drives your business and enables us to grow,” he said.

McChord showed that Datto listens to its partners and makes the kind of changes they need, which has led the company to enjoy its current growth, said Dave Seibert, CIO at IT Innovators, and Irvine, Calif.-based MSP and Datto channel partner.

“A lot of what was announced at DattoCon was what the channel wanted,” Seibert told CRN. “A lot of vendors, especially those who are enterprise-focused, don’t make changes based on what their SMB customers and partners tell them.”

McChord used part of his keynote to show how Datto is expanding that decade of innovation with new offerings expected to be released later this year.

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5 Things To Watch For In Dell Technologies Q1 Financial Results

Demanding Markets

Demand for profitable data center gear, the bruising PC market, the response to memory and SSD shortages and progress on cost cutting efforts are likely to be topics of discussion for Dell Technologies executives when the company reports first quarter financial results Thursday.

Thursday’s report marks the second full quarter since Dell’s $58 billion acquisition of EMC last September, and the company is carrying a lot of confidence following the annual Dell EMC World conference last month.

Still, Dell Technologies, the largest privately held IT firm in the world, isn’t immune to challenges in key markets, particularly the continued contraction and consolidation of the global PC market, which is dominated by Dell and its two main PC rivals, HP Inc. and Lenovo. In the data center, Dell EMC has to contend with softening demand for high-end gear and an all-out assault by competitors like HPE and Cisco.

Here are five things to look out for in Dell Technologies Q1 financials.

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Dell EMC World: Enterprise Sales Chief Scannell Says Partners Are Booting Competitors, Winning Big Deals Amid Huge Market Opportunity

Global Enterprise Sales President Bill Scannell is ready to bring Dell EMC channel partners into an all-out enterprise sales street fight, and he likes their chances.

“I’ve never seen in my 32 years with this company the amount of market opportunity that’s out there,” Scannell told about 4,000 partners gathered for the Global Partner Summit at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas.

Scannell referenced a recent storage deal won by solution provider Insight that tipped the scales at $133 million for a single order. “That was a relatively new customer for Dell EMC, it was under-penetrated,” Scannel said.

[Related: Dell EMC World 2017]

“We replaced 32 petabytes of 3Par storage because it just doesn’t work. We have great technology that works really well together. We can deliver deployments for these customers doing transformations better than anyone else.

“I have, in any given market, anywhere in the world, 30 to 32 percent market share at best. There’s 70 percent opportunity that we have to win together. We’ll help you find those opportunities, and we’ll work very aggressively with you to help you win those. Our win rate is going up. We haven’t seen win rates like we did in Q1, and we’re on a really strong pace for Q2.”

The Insight deal was one of several significant partner wins highlighted by Channel Chief John Byrne. These include a $5 million storage deal won by NCS; a $20 million server deal won by Computer Center; a $32 million storage deal won by WWT; a $55 million storage deal won by Bechtle; and a $53 million deal won by Megaplus in Pakistan, thought to be the largest private-sector tech deal ever closed in that country.

“The customers love our messaging,” Scannell said. “Only Dell Technologies can bring it all together. There’s no other company that has the breadth of portfolio that we have. Increasingly, customers want to do business with fewer companies. As Dell Technologies, we can sit down with any customers and talk to them about the opportunity that’s in front of them and in front of us working with our partner ecosystem to win, and win big.”

That message is certainly resonating with solution providers, said Patrick Fettuccia, senior vice president of business management at Rolta Advizex, a Burlington, Mass.-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC. “About 60 percent of our registrations coming in are net-new business. It’s new business, and it’s our traditional customers expanding. It’s market segment specific. Health care providers, we’re seeing a lot of growth there, and public sector is on fire too.”

Fettuccia added that he’s optimistic about his company’s ability to spur growth across the entire Dell EMC portfolio. “We’re a long-time EMC partner, and Dell is new to us. We’ve always been a strong enterprise player in the storage space, so what’s really exciting to us now is the compute side. To hear Billy talking about the focus on enterprise and being in there working together is great.”

Ryan Heiden, the principal systems engineer at RoundTower Technologies, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC, as well as several other major vendors, said Dell EMC seems to be hitting the right buttons for growth in the channel.

“The sky’s the limit,” Heiden said. “We’re growing like gangbusters, and I’m sure the Dell portfolio we sell will probably grow at the same rate. The technology is coming out, and partners have the ability to reach into different areas and bundle deals together with multiple technologies. That helps drive the price up, and security is a big piece. The portfolio they have is best-of-breed in a lot of cases. The name, the trust, the quality resonates with customers on a lot of levels.”

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Chad Sakac On Dell EMC’s Push To Turn Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Into A Utility

The New Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-converged infrastructure is one of the industry’s hottest markets. Chad Sakac, president of the converged platforms division at Dell EMC, speaks about how Dell EMC’s new 14G servers will fit into hyper-converged infrastructure, and how the company will turn HCI into a utility.

Get more of CRN’s coverage of Dell EMC World 2017.

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Dell EMC’s David Goulden: Modern, Automated Infrastructure Provides The First Step For Cloud Migration

A modern, automated, and transformational data center infrastructure is the key to businesses moving forward with the cloud and modern applications.

That’s the word from Dell EMC President David Goulden who told attendees of this week’s Dell EMC World conference that businesses need to move forward with their digital transformation, but only a few have done so.

Goulden also used his keynote to provide an overview of Dell EMC’s new products, including the company’s upcoming 14th generation of PowerEdge servers, a series of new storage products featuring increased use of flash and cloud technology, and new financial options for customers looking to adopt the latest technology.

[Related: Dell EMC Launches All-Flash Storage Barrage]

Goulden, citing a survey of 1,000 businesses from analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group, said that most businesses have started the process, but only 5 percent have finished it.

CIOs are increasingly being asked to decide how to transform their business for modern infrastructures, and to look at when to use the cloud versus stay on-premises, Goulden said.

“This is where CIOs find themselves today: between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

To be ready, Goulden said, businesses need to go through a three-step process: modernize the data center, automate it and transform it.

At the highest level, IT is all about the applications which are increasingly being run on a cloud, he said. “Of course, clouds run on IT infrastructures: services, storage, and networking,” he said.

Dell EMC has a three-pronged strategy to help customers go through their digital transformation, Goulden said.

The first is to develop the right cloud strategy to meet diverse application needs, including the needs of general purpose applications, new cloud-native applications, and especially mission-critical applications, Goulden said. “These applications are often run on specific infrastructures that support these applications,” he said.

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