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As part of an overall strategy to unseat providers of consumer-grade file synchronization and share services, Datto unveiled its Datto Drive service through which its managed service provider (MSP) partners can offer this capability themselves.

To back that effort up, Datto is also making available the first million instances of Datto Drive to its partners and small businesses for free for a year. After the first 365 days, the MSPs can either sell or give them away to customers to drum up demand. Datto Drive is priced at $10 per terabyte per month for an unlimited number of users in each end customer.

Based on a 200-petabyte private cloud distributed across nine data centers that Datto has deployed on behalf of its MSP partners, Datto Drive leverages technology that Datto gained when it partnered with ownCloud. Peter Rawlinson, chief marketing officer for Datto, said

Datto expects MSP partners to leverage those investments to drive more business in their direction, said Peter Rawlinson, chief marketing officer.

“Today only about 10 percent of all IT is outsourced,” said Rawlinson. “We think Datto Drive will lead to a bigger conversation with the customer.”

For example, there are a host of compliance and regulatory issues that Datto Drive addresses that competing services, such as Dropbox and Box, can’t address within the context of a truly private cloud, he said.

One of the first MSP partners to sign up for Datto Drive is Ash Creek Enterprises, which Mark Calzone, the company’s president, sees as an enabler for selling higher-margin consulting services.

“For us, Datto Drive helps open the door,” said Calzone. “There’s a bigger conversation to be had about how complex data management is now.”

The user experience associated with consumer-grade file synchronization software is kludgy within the context of most business workflows, Calzone said. In contrast, he credits Datto with creating a service that works much more seamlessly within the context of existing cloud applications and managed services.

At the moment, Datto has some 5,000 MSP partners reselling its data protection services. Assuming even a fraction of those MSPs start delivering Datto Drive as part their service, the impact on file synchronization use could be substantial.

Getting end users to give up Box, Dropbox or services such as Microsoft OneDrive will take some effort. However, given today’s concerns about security and regulatory compliance, how file synchronization gets managed at the business level is clearly a conversation most organizations are now more willing than ever to have.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.