Unitrends unveils small form factor ION appliances aimed at small offices and client sites

While the ION and the ION+ small tower model are mainly aimed at MSPs, Unitrends also expects some VAR business aimed at specific customer use cases.

Joe Noonan, General Manager of Unitrends

Today, Unitrends, a Kaseya company focused on backup and continuity solutions, is announcing the launch of their new ION Series of desktop backup appliances. These are both small form factor devices, targeted at MSPs as well as some SMB customers in small client sites and small offices. The tiny ION is a silent device aimed at offices without a server rack. The larger ION+ has a small tower form factor. In addition to the new appliances, Unitrends is also announcing a new Cyber Assurance Program for the education of both partners and customers.

Unitrends sees the ION and ION+ as being the final major elements in the company’s MSP portfolio

“Our MSP business was only born in 2018, so we had to build it all out,” said Joe Noonan, General Manager of Unitrends. “We came out with MAX for fast local recoveries. ION, on the other hand, is for those who don’t like the big cabinet-like form factor. It’s a way to expand into a part of the MSP market we haven’t hit up until now. So while we have been building out MSP offerings since 2018, and you are never really done, we think this fills the last gap in the portfolio.”

The new ION appliances are not targeted entirely at the MSP space, as Unitrends expects business from some VARs as well, but they expect MSPs will buy most of these.

“MSPs have been the fastest growing part of our backup business since the merger with Kaseya,” Noonan said. “These new ION devices are all about form factor. The ION is a tiny nook which is the size of an Apple TV, while the ION+ is a standard tower device.”

This is a small form factor for small offices and small client sites. It is not really a Work From Home [WFH] product, although Unitrends would certainly sell it to that market if requested.

“We wouldn’t turn it down, but what we have developed for the WFH market is targeted at people who don’t want to have any hardware at all,” Noonan said. “That market wants everything sent directly to the cloud without any local backup at all. So while we think there will be some WFH demand for this, we don’t expect that will be where the main adoption will be.”

Some of the other expected demand sources come from specific use cases.

“We have some SMBs who complain about the noise of small backup products,” Noonan said. “Now this is typically the result of cooling without following best practices, but it will still create a demand for these smaller devices.”

The price range for these starts for MSPs at $55 per month for the small ION.

“The pricing is close to the Recovery series from the perspective of partners,” Noonan said. “We don’t look on it as low cost compared to rackmount, in the same way that phones are not typically cheaper than notebooks. Smaller isn’t cheaper. It’s a form factor play.”

The direct competitive market for these devices is limited.

“Datto has something similar with some desktop-friendly devices for MSPs, and ours would compete head to head against those, but no one else has anything like this,” Noonan noted. “These will be nice differentiators in the SMB and midmarket space.”

The core functionality of these devices is similar to Unitrends’ larger appliances, although there are some connectivity issues compared with them. Both the ION and ION+ provide features like automated disaster recovery testing, immutable storage, and  AI-based ransomware detection.

“You lose no functionality with these,” Noonan indicated. “Even the small ION lets you test if recoveries will be sound. From a software perspective, it has everything in our larger boxes – like encryption, and replication off site. Because of the  very tiny form factor, you can’t add external adapters or external archiving devices. The tower unit has more connectivity, but with it, we don’t allow local archiving devices to tape. It’s just straight recovery.”

The new Cyber Assurance Program that Unitrends is announcing educates and advises customers on how to stay up-to-date on the threat landscape, and offers AI-based automation to ensure ransomware resilience.

“This is an entirely new program designed to help to educate the market, which includes both partners and users,” Noonan stated. “It lets us leverage the broader advantages of Kaseya, around a lot of the education that we provide.” Program benefits include: ongoing quarterly Cyber Awareness training; Unitrends administrator certification; and professional cybersecurity certification. There are also regional in-person training events; monthly online training webinars; and a best practices library, as well as provision for ongoing quarterly technical account reviews.