Unitrends Inc. has launched a wholly owned subsidiary 100 percent dedicated to BDR and disaster recovery-as-a-service solutions for managed service providers.
Called Unitrends MSP, the new venture marks the first time Burlington, Mass.-based Unitrends, which is well known as a maker of perpetually-licensed business continuity solutions, has offered subscription-priced products tailored to the needs of MSPs.
The company currently has two offerings: an appliance-based business continuity/disaster recovery solution and an associated “backup advisor” application designed to help MSPs prioritize pending alerts.
The backup system layers entirely new functionality on top of the legacy Unitrends solution’s core data protection engine.
“It’s something that’s been around for a long time that’s trusted by tens of thousands of enterprise customers and has a great reputation in the market,” says Unitrends MSP CEO Mike Sanders of the older solution’s code base. “We’re not building that part of what we’re doing from scratch.”
The rest of the Unitrends MSP backup solution is new and specific to MSP requirements, however. Key features include a cloud-based management portal offering centralized access to backup appliances at multiple customer sites and an all-new set of reports custom-written for providers of outsourced IT services.
Designed to be suitable for both SMBs and large enterprises, Unitrends MSP appliances offer capacity options ranging from 1 TB to over 100.
“We feel very confident that we can cover the bulk of the market,” Sanders says.
Subscriptions are available for both single-year and multi-year terms, and offer a range of variably-priced options for storing data in the cloud. According to Sanders, though, the total recurring fee users pay will come in below current BDR market norms regardless of the selections they make.
“I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised,” he says. “We’re going to be markedly less expensive than our competitors.”
That pricing strategy reflects a conviction on Unitrends MSP’s part that the high price of appliance-based solutions from other vendors is the main reason many MSPs don’t include BDR among the services they offer.
“They haven’t found a solution that is within a price range that they can actually take out to their clients and sell and still have margin on it,” Sanders says. “I think that there’s an opportunity for us to come into the market at this point in time and really be disruptive.”
Unitrends MSP’s backup advisor system, called BackupIQ, draws on artificial intelligence technology to call technicians’ attention to the most urgent data protection issues, like a critical server that didn’t get backed up overnight.
“That’s a much bigger deal than a workstation that somebody had turned off during the time [when] their backup was supposed to happen,” Sanders says.
Sanders makes no bones about the fact that Norwalk, Conn.-based Datto Inc. is Unitrends MSP’s number one competitive priority.
“They take really fantastic care of their customers, but we believe that we’ve got a much better technical solution,” says Sanders, who calls the Unitrends BDR solution an enterprise-class product priced for SMBs.
“It’s designed for a different class of client,” he states, citing the Unitrends system’s SLA policy automation functionality as an example. That feature lets administrators configure backup, replication, archiving, and retention plans automatically based on recovery time and point objectives. The Unitrends product offers unusually flexible archiving options as well, according to Sanders.
“If you want to migrate backup copies to cheap storage in the cloud, you want to push stuff up onto your own storage, [or] you want to pull data off of the appliance and keep it for seven years or 10 years or whatever, those types of options have been handled,” he says.
Additionally, Sanders continues, Unitrends MSP is immune from the temptation Datto faces to limit interoperability of its products with third-party RMM and PSA platforms now that its acquisition by private investor Vista Equity Partners and merger with IT management software maker Autotask is complete.
“I’ve got a lot of clients who are worried that they’re going to get left out in the cold when it comes to their integration, because they’re not truly agnostic anymore,” he says.
Datto executives have emphasized their continued commitment to open APIs in recent interviews with ChannelPro, including one last week with CEO Austin McChord.
The twin solutions Unitrends MSP unveiled today are the first elements of a portfolio that will eventually include MSP-optimized versions of most of the products its parent company sells. All of those systems will be developed in house by Unitrends MSP, which has its own R&D, sales, service, and support teams.
“We’re our own independent company,” Sanders says. “We’re free to make our own decisions. We’re definitely not just a department of Unitrends.”
Operating separately allows the new company to devote all of its resources to a market with unique requirements, he adds.
“I think when you get companies that do MSP on the side, you don’t really get the same level of understanding in the business that you get when you have a company that is dedicated to it and really that’s all they do,” says Sanders.
Before agreeing to helm Unitrends MSP, Sanders was CEO of Cenersys, a maker of network intelligence software acquired earlier this month by IT Glue, the Vancouver, B.C.-based documentation vendor.
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