Consumers have zero patience for downtime. That is the unyielding demand that large enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have to meet, explained Austin McChord, CEO of Datto.
Unlike larger companies, SMBs “typically have a smaller budget with which to meet that challenge,” said McChord. “Every year, business continuity requires more advanced technology to keep up with security threats. It’s no longer just email viruses, but now ransomware, data breaches, and more. Businesses have to be able to recover, no matter the threat.”
Founded in 2007 by McChord, Datto provides disaster recovery and business continuity solutions to SMBs. At the end of 2014, Datto acquired Backupify, a Software as a Service (SaaS) application backup provider, with the intent of providing more complete protection to its clients.
In an email Q&A with TechRepublic, McChord also discussed the need for integrated data and backup monitoring, and gave his take on intelligent business continuity.
TechRepublic: I learned that you got your start in business down in the basement of your father’s company while still in college. Gosh — that sounds like a New York Times bestseller. Please elaborate!
Austin McChord: Believe me, it wasn’t as glamorous as it may sound from afar! A basement isn’t a pretty place to spend your early 20s.
It was 2007, and I had just graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). I had an idea I wanted to pursue, that I could help a lot of small and midsize businesses stay up and running when disasters strike. I knew I could build a low-cost storage device and use it to store data in the cloud. I hired a small team based in Connecticut, initially many of them friends and family, and we started to sell the product. I’ve focused on surrounding myself with great people. When we started, my academic advisor told me it was a terrible idea, and that I would certainly fail. I’m happy to say we have not failed to date.
As a side note, I recently enjoyed a “full circle” moment when we opened an office in Rochester. We’re excited about the great talent pool there, including today’s RIT students.
TechRepublic: Your Forbes 30 Under 30 vignette states that you said “no” to a nine-figure offer for Datto from an established security firm. I am guessing that you feel pretty strongly about your company — how would you describe Datto’s mission?
Austin McChord: Our mission is to keep businesses running, no matter what happens. We protect the world’s business data, no matter where it lives. This is a real and exciting challenge, and one that motivates my team and me. We enjoy coming to work every day. I’m lucky to love what I do, as does the team around me, which made it easier to say no to such a large offer.
TechRepublic: What are the benefits of using Datto for a customer?
Austin McChord: Speed and simplicity. Our products work quickly to restore systems after data loss or disaster, making our customers’ businesses unstoppable in the face of ransomware, viruses, or complete data loss due to natural disaster.
The biggest benefit of Datto, however, is that we’re never done improving. We work every day to make our products stronger and more innovative, because we know the demands for business continuity will keep changing, so we will, too.
TechRepublic: How would you present the concept of intelligent business continuity to a potential customer?
Austin McChord: It’s pretty simple. Intelligent business continuity is about not just getting your data back — it’s about keeping your business running. Backup products are widely available, but just having your data isn’t enough. You need to keep your business running, even in the face of severe disaster or complete site loss. With true business continuity, your systems are online in as fast as six seconds after a disaster. Customers never even notice there was a problem.
TechRepublic: What differentiates your technology platform and line of products from competitive solutions?
Austin McChord: The big difference is the breadth and completeness of our solution. We protect data on premises, in the cloud, in physical and virtual servers, and in SaaS apps, and allow you to manage it all from a single interface. Our six-second restore capability and end-to-end accountability from a single vendor are dramatically different from others in the space. We don’t just deliver lost data, we keep your business running in real time, no matter what the disaster. In case of failure, you can run a single server or your whole network from the Datto cloud while the initial problem is resolved. To get this anywhere else, you would have to piece together a solution from multiple vendors and then risk finger-pointing if something goes wrong.
TechRepublic: Regarding the acquisition of Backupify this past December, what opportunity did you see, and how are you leveraging the “new normal” for Datto?
Austin McChord: We saw that data is found in more places than in years past. SaaS application adoption is growing fast, meaning that more business-critical data is stored there. There is a common misconception that SaaS application data is automatically protected, but your application provider can’t help if an employee or virus deletes your data. Backupify saw this need early on, and became the world’s largest provider of cloud-to-cloud backup. By folding Backupify into the Datto family, we’re now able to offer seamless data protection across the full spectrum.
TechRepublic: What are the main trends in your competitive space — hybrid cloud-based backup and disaster recovery for SMBs — over the next one to two years?
Austin McChord: At a high level, it’s really about the fact that consumers no longer have tolerance for downtime. Small businesses face the same challenges as large enterprises — to keep their systems and businesses up and running all the time — but they typically have a smaller budget with which to meet that challenge. Every year, business continuity requires more advanced technology to keep up with security threats. It keeps getting more and more complex. It’s no longer just email viruses, but now ransomware, data breaches, and more. Businesses have to be able to recover, no matter the threat.
Another complexity of today’s data protection is the fact that data is stored in a lot of different places. Businesses still have local servers and storage, but are also using SaaS applications like Google Apps, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office 365. No matter what causes a disruption or where the data is stored, businesses have to recover immediately to meet their customers’ expectation of zero downtime.
TechRepublic: In the whole wide world of backup disaster recovery and intelligent business continuity solutions, what in your view is the biggest IT need that enterprises are facing right now? That is — where is the biggest area of improvement?
Austin McChord: The biggest area that needs improvement is the monitoring and management of backups and restores across all the places data is stored. A cobbled-together solution from multiple vendors is complex to manage and is prone to errors and gaps. IT teams should be free to focus on making their end users’ lives better, not wondering whether three different backup solutions and a cloud vendor are all doing their part of the job correctly.