TubbTalk #46 – From CentraStage to Datto: One Cloud-based RMM’s Journey

TubbTalk #46 - From CentraStage to Datto

Richard talks to Christian Nagele & Ian Van Reenen about their business journey, from cloud-based RMM operating their company, CentraStage, in a spare room, to being acquired by Autotask and then Datto.

An Interview with Christian Nagele and Ian Van Reenen

How They Started CentraStageTubbTalk #46 - From CentraStage to Datto

CentraStage moved location a couple of times before ending up in Ian’s apartment. The servers were in the bathroom because there was an extractor fan to keep it cool, and they used a spare room to run the business. The business was SaaS (Software as a Service) based from the beginning, which was unusual, as at the time (around 10 years ago) everyone was running server-based rather than cloud-based companies.

Christian says that it was Ian’s idea to be cloud-based and he stuck to that decision. They used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop their RMM (remote monitoring and management platform) when it was still new, and AWS developed alongside them, which allowed them to expand their offering. 

Why Autotask Bought the Business

Using AWS meant that CentraStage could offer a range of new, exciting features to their clients. They were supported constantly by AWS engineers which allowed them to find the best way to use the system and scale their business.

Christian explains that although they didn’t have a great deal of revenue or many MSP customers, their use of AWS was a key competitive differentiator. They had a highly-scalable platform which could offer new features quickly, based on what customers wanted, which was what led Autotask to choose to buy the business.

‘Building on AWS was our one key competitive differentiator, as we could build, develop and scale a commercial infrastructure cheaply.’ Ian Van Reenen @datto Click to Tweet

How the Business Grew

The business had grown steadily from scratch, and one of the advantages was that Autotask allowed them to continue to develop the RMM as they wanted. When they were then acquired by Datto, Ian worked closely with the VP of Engineering and the rest of his team to discuss what was needed.

Ian says, ‘They told us where they wanted to go, the direction and the metrics to include, and set us off to do that. It meant we suddenly had the resources to scale the business.’

‘Datto told us what they wanted and the direction to go in, and then they gave us the resources to develop our RMM further.’ Ian Van Reenen @datto Click to Tweet

From there, they went from a team of 35 with five salespeople to 175 sales staff and from a couple of hundred thousand devices to up to a million. They’d built the platform to do that from the very beginning, and AWS allowed them to do so.

The Future of RMM

Christian says: “Too many vendors have chased what I call excessive feature breadth, and tried to offer too many features when what MSPs need an RMM to deliver is pretty tightly defined in my world.” Trying to make an RMM do too many moves it into a different area.

Ultimately, the end customer wants a service – an IT infrastructure that is up and running is secure, efficient and serves the business goals. That’s what they’re looking for.”

'The end customer wants an IT infrastructure that works securely and efficiently to meet their goals. Our role is to support those needs.’ Christian Nagele, @datto Click to Tweet

The role of RMM is to be able to apply those service level agreements to better infrastructure. If it needs to be secure for instance, make sure that it’s patched, that the AV is running, firewalls are in place and the network is secure.

‘Endless feature-creep in the RMM world is more of a hindrance than a help. Nobody’s paying attention to what the MSPs want.’ Christian Nagele, @datto Click to Tweet

The Plans for the Next 12 Months

Both Ian and Christian are focussing on scale and growth. Ian has developed a roadmap to make Datto’s products good enough to sell themselves and to make their RMM the number one on the market. He will be expanding the team and getting the infrastructure in place to make this happen over the coming year.

‘Very few MSPs are making revenues from managing mobile devices. Our view is that it’s just not mainstream, so we only offer a minimal viable product.’ Christian Nagele,… Click to Tweet

Christian says his main task is to bring more MSPs on board with using Datto. He will be attending hundreds of events right across EMEA, including smaller, local events as well as big conferences.

He wants to support Datto to continue to increase its market presence to increase staff numbers and MSP partners. Too many vendors have disappeared from the marketplace in recent years or their offering has been diluted, and that’s not what he wants for Datto.

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Interview Transcript

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