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September 15, 2022 |

Optimism and Wariness Among Datto Partners as DattoCon 2022 Concludes

Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola labored mightily to reassure attendees at this week’s DattoCon partner event that Kaseya’s interests and theirs are aligned. How much progress did he make?

Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola has plenty of experience speaking before large audiences. But as he readily admitted early in the keynote he delivered at this week’s DattoCon partner event in Washington D.C., he was “a little nervous” about this particular speaking appearance.

“Any human being probably gets anxious before speaking, but this was a really important day and a really important message,” said Voccola in a conversation with ChannelPro, noting that the presentation was his first, best chance to explain the thinking behind Kaseya’s acquisition of Datto directly to the channel pros most impacted by that massive transaction after months of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

“It needed to be as close to perfect as we could do,” he says. “I didn’t want to mess it up.”

Putting to rest widespread concerns among Datto partners that the products they use, technical support they love, and community they value are in danger was high on his list of objectives for the talk, which is why he spent some of it assuring his audience that Kaseya plans to invest in Datto’s products, people, support team, and partner program rather than cut them. 

His biggest goal, though, was to articulate the strategic reasoning behind that $14 billion endeavor and why it will benefit Datto partners. Ultimately, Voccola insists, everything boils down to the one idea he most wanted his audience to take away with them.

“The strategy of Kaseya is to align our incentives with those of our partners,” he says.

What MSPs want, Voccola continues, is to spend less while doing and making more. What Kaseya wants is to sell as many of the components in its IT Complete platform to as many MSPs as possible. Offering partners a broad array of integrated solutions at prices designed to be one-third less than comparable alternatives, Voccola asserts, gets everyone what they desire.

“It’s literally a win-win,” he says.

Buying Datto feeds into that strategy, Voccola believes, in multiple ways. Kaseya comes away from the deal with more products to sell, including some in a market segment the company has never competed in before.

“We had, pre-Datto, zero presence in network infrastructure,” Voccola says. “No routers, no switches, no access points,” and nothing like Datto Secure Edge, the forthcoming SASE solution unveiled at DattoCon this week.

Datto partners, meanwhile, get BDR, RMM, PSA, and other solutions they’re already using for less money. Under a new rate chart that went into effect on the first of this month, net new licenses for Datto products now list at 15% less than before on average, according to Kaseya. Dozens of new source code-level integrations available today or under development, the company adds, will enable MSPs to lower operational overhead as well by accelerating managed services workflows.

“They’re getting tons of integration and they’re making more money because they’re paying less,” Voccola says.

Or at least that’s Kaseya’s destination for Datto. Voccola is the first to admit that getting there won’t be easy or happen overnight.

“I just want to be very clear, we’re going to make mistakes,” he said during his keynote Monday, but “I think we’re going to do more things right than we do wrong.”

Joshua Liberman, president of Albuquerque, N.M.-based MSP Net Sciences and a longtime Datto partner, is willing to give Voccola and Kaseya the benefit of the doubt based on what he heard at DattoCon. 

“Though I carry much trepidation into this new relationship, so far so good,” he says in emailed remarks. “Announcements of product and features, product development (especially to use Fred’s words ‘meaningful integrations’) and the general tenor of the event were quite positive, as was most of the partner feedback.”

Liberman, who led a panel on security and compliance during DattoCon, reports a “general feeling of optimism, if not euphoria” among the roughly two dozen people in the room.

Not every channel pro, however, left DattoCon in an upbeat mood. Schyler Jones, principal owner of Concord, N.H.-based MiradorIT, for one, still has serious doubts about Datto’s future.

“I want to be optimistic but it’s hard considering what Kaseya has been doing to us with their strong-arm push for 3-yr. terms and buying up tools and platforms while practically ceasing development, or dramatically slowing down the release of new features,” he says via email, alluding to an auto-renewal policy Kaseya discontinued last month

“I was glad to hear they are going to put time and effort into the continued development of Datto’s product line, to include integrations that seem exciting. But we don’t know if they will all be delivered, and whether they will work,” Jones adds.

The biggest disappointment about Voccola’s keynote, he continues, was that it didn’t address what Jones calls Kaseya’s reputation as “the most-hated vendor” in managed services. “I really hoped he would have taken the bull by the horns and just talked about it,” he says. 

Jones now plans to “continue sailing on and see what the next 12-18 months bring.” Gary Pica, the managed services consultant who became part of the Kaseya team last year, endorses such thinking. Making abrupt decisions about strategic partnerships after something like the Datto acquisition based purely on what you fear could come next, he counsels, is usually a bad idea.

“My advice always is to wait it out,” he says. “We have better things to do than changing out our tool stack because of something that hasn’t happened yet.”

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