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DattoCon Goes Virtual As Kaseya Connect IT Global Shifts To Hybrid

‘We arrived at this decision by realizing that many variables that drive the magic of DattoCon are now out of our control and changing weekly. In addition, with so many global travel restrictions in place, we would be leaving out a meaningful portion of the MSP community,’ writes Datto CEO Tim Weller in a memo to MSPs.

Even as the IT conference scene is opening up after virtually shutting down for a year-and-a-half during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact is still being felt as Datto’s in-person DattoCon, originally scheduled for Oct. 11 to 15 in Seattle, was scrapped for an all-virtual conference now slated to run Oct. 13.

However, rival MSP provider Kaseya’s Connect IT Global, scheduled as a hybrid conference with both an-person event and an all-remote event, is still slated to run Oct. 19-22 in Las Vegas.

Datto CEO Tim Weller last Friday, in a letter sent to MSPs, wrote that DattoCon provides a forum for thousands of MSPs to engage live with each other and with over 100 vendors, “and having a blast while doing it.”

[Related: Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola On COVID-19, Connect IT And ConnectWise]

However, Weller wrote, uncertainty around travel and events during a pandemic meant making the difficult decision to move DattoCon21 to a virtual-only format.

“We arrived at this decision by realizing that many variables that drive the magic of DattoCon are now out of our control and changing weekly. In addition, with so many global travel restrictions in place, we would be leaving out a meaningful portion of the MSP community,” he wrote.

DattoCon, based on its experience with virtual events in the last 18 months, can deliver great content including technology keynotes and demos as well as many business tracks in a virtual DattoCon, Weller wrote.

“Our MSP Tech Days and Sales & Marketing Days have each had thousands of MSPs participating. And we are taking our virtual game to a higher level with the same learning and interaction opportunities you have come to expect from DattoCon. To keep it fun, we will do a drawing from among the virtual attendees for 25 free tickets to the next live DattoCon and 5 free long weekend trips for two,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Kaseya Connect IT Global is still set as a live event with a virtual option for partners and customers who cannot attend in person, said Dana Liedholm, Kaseya’s senior vice president of corporate marketing, in an email to CRN.

“Nevada is still hosting in-person events, and we are going to make it happen. We still have a virtual option for those who can’t join us in person, but our customers have been overwhelmingly clear that they want to be there in person with us. We have all kinds of fun, safe entertainment planned, including an outdoor networking event. Anyone who was looking forward to DattoCon, is welcome to join us in person,” Liedholm wrote

To help ensure the safety of attendees, Kaseya will insist masks are worn inside at all times and provide temperature checks, provide hand sanitizing stations and safety packets, daily sanitation in high-traffic areas, and colored wristbands that indicate level of comfort interacting with others, Liedholm wrote.

It was smart of Datto to move to a virtual format for DattoCon, said Anoush D’Orville, CEO of Advisory, a New York-based MSP and Datto channel partner.

“I don’t know why anyone would risk anything at this time,” D’Orville told CRN. “We won’t even go to the office, except one person who goes in to receive packages. We’ve had a couple of breakthrough cases in our staff.”

The world is moving to virtual conferences even as the pandemic hopefully recedes, D’Orville said.

“About 80 percent of our business is in the Mac space,” he said. “All the conferences around iOS are virtual. We’re small team, and we’re virtual. The benefits of virtual conferences is increased participation. You are in effect allowing for a wider involvement in any environment.”

D‘Orville said to take his company as an example.

“Three years ago, we would have loved to have had virtual environments,” he said. “We couldn’t afford to send people to Seattle for three to four days. As a smaller company, we are interested in embracing remote environments.”

D’Orville said Advisory has been working with Datto for just under a year.

“DattoCon was not on the top of our list for events to attend,” he said. “But now that it’s a virtual-only event, it makes expands our ability to take part even if it is only for select sessions.”

Mike Clemmons, president of Bytecafe Consulting, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based MSP and Datto channel partner, said he was disappointed to see the live DattoCon switched to a virtual-only format.

“I’ve been to a lot of IT events this year that went well,” Clemmons told CRN. “I was at ConnectWise IT Nation Secure in June, where we needed to show we were vaccinated or had COVID tests. I went to a [MSP marketing expert] Robin Robbins live roadshow. And ConnectWise IT Nation is scheduled as a live event in November.”

Clemmons said he had tickets purchased for DattoCon, and was planning to go.

“I suspect the delta variant of COVID-19 was a concern,” he said. “And the event was scheduled in Seattle, which is not like Texas or Florida when it comes to live events [during the pandemic].”

Clemmons said that travel for him has returned to normal, so much so that he attended a Star Trek convention last month in Las Vegas, and this month will attend the Dallas Fan Expo Dallas sci-fi event. He also plans to attend a Robin Robins Roadshow this month in Newark, N.J., he said.

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