N-able: Empowers MSPs to Provide Data Protection for SMEs More Efficiently

Learn how MSPs and systems integrators manage data protection more efficiently, and gain a competitive advantage.


N-able was founded in 2003 by longtime IT veteran, Eric Pulaski. They have more than 12,000 MSP customers worldwide that help SMEs scale their business growth by leveraging N-able cloud data backup and data protection solutions.


The 41st IT Press Tour had the opportunity to meet with Chris Groot, GM, N-able Data Protection, and Stefan Voss, VP Product Management at N-able.


Industry Trends


Chris and Stefan highlighted three industry trends and shared how N-able is well-positioned to address the trends.

  1. Cloud-first strategy: More than 60% of practitioners increasing investment in cloud and security. N-able is cloud-first, appliance-free and provides broad workload coverage across on-prem and SaaS. TrueDelta technology provides game-changing efficiency. There are no firmware upgrades, no on-prem appliance patching, and no planned downtime.

  2. Cyber incidents: There is now a ransomware attack every 11 seconds. 80% of companies who pay the ransom get attacked again. N-able provides off-site copies and recovery testing customers can trust. Users can flag malware without the need to restore it first.

  3. IT skills shortage: Talent shortage cited as the number one issue for key technology projects and adoption. N-able provides a single pane of glass with active management for ease of management. Also, the multi-tenant capabilities of the platform are ideal for MSPs with a variety of clients.

Ransomware Trends


Ransomware stats:

  • There has been a 600% increase in malicious email due to Covid-19,

  • 37% of organizations were affected by ransomware last year,

  • There is one ransomware attack every 11 seconds,

  • $40M largest ransomware payment ever made ($200,000 is the average),

  • 80% of those who pay ransom get attacked again soon after.


COVID Drives Ransomware


The threat landscape is seeing pent-up demand to recover from ransomware attacks that have accelerated during the Covid-19 lockdowns. There is more business email compromise, as well as a higher incidence of penetration as a function of more attack vectors.


Employees and employers are relying on platforms, desktops, and laptops. The hybrid worker needs to be protected from threats and self-inflicted mistakes.


Covid has accelerated Microsoft 365 adoption, as well as features like Teams and OneDrive as geographically dispersed workgroups, become the new normal.


News headlines and increased awareness of ransomware attacks have raised awareness that the only good back-up is an offsite backup. Business leaders and business owners who know others who have been impacted by this are becoming more proactive and insisting on frequent and offsite backups.


New Era of Data Protection


Cloud-first data-protection-as-a-service is the future:

  • Stage 1 (pre-2010): disaggregated backup hardware and software, on-prem only, high complexity, high cost, disk, and tape targets.

  • Stage 2 (2010-2015): integrated backup appliances still on-prem only, consolidation of hardware and software, lower complexity, disk takes over from tape.

  • Stage 3 (2015 to 2020): scale-out backup systems offered simplicity and scalability with connectivity to on-prem and cloud targets.

  • Stage 4 (2020 and beyond): back-up-as-a-service. Backup becomes hardware-independent, delivered as-a-service, on-prem and cloud data backed up to cloud target.

Attack Surfaces


At the IT admin level, there are attack vectors like email compromise/phishing, credential harvesting, insider threat rising concern. Remediation with traditional backup is multi-factor authentication, CAC cards, biometrics. At the application server and backup server level, attack vectors are CVE exploits, corruption of data, or metadata (e.g., backup catalog). Remediation may include CVSS classification, response, and remediation which requires patching. At backup target attack vectors include: data corruption/copy deletion.Remediation involves copies outside the production network, air gapping, and immutability.


Attack surface is reduced in direct-to-cloud. Having copies offsite at the N-able data center reduces the attack surface and the backup infrastructure is segregated from the production infrastructure.


Cloud-First Data Protection


N-able focuses on the data protection space offering cloud-first data protection as-a-service which protects servers, workstations, and Microsoft 365 data. The SaaS application is a web-based management plane with direct-to-cloud backup and optional local copy that's ideal for MSPs. The solution is used by more than 12,000 MSPs worldwide and uses 5X less storage for the same restore points. Data is stored in N-able private cloud 30 data centers in 22 countries to respect data sovereignty.


The industry has long taught that image-based backup is the gold standard. File backups don’t work when you need to recover a full server. It can take a long time to configure the server if you don’t have a full image backup.


What the industry has not been saying is you want image recovery, not image backup.

“Backups are important but it’s all about recovery.” “A virtual machine is just a series of files organized in a very specific way. If you can back up all of the data from within the operating system, you can create virtual machines quickly and easily – assuming you have the right software."

Image-based backups are far from ideal – especially for MSPs.


It starts with the change rate. The incremental change rate for classic image-level backups is 6%. The incremental change rate for N-able backup is 0.1%. The incremental GB storage is 30 GB:0.5 GB.


Change Rates


Change rates difference impacts bandwidth requirements. “Backups that used to take eight hours now take 10 minutes.”


Change rate impacts frequency of backup. “Sometimes we could only run one backup a day – if that.” It’s given us the ability to effectively deploy backups and run them at the frequency we need without a heavy amount of impact.”


Change rate difference impacts storage requirements. “Quite often in products that have on-site storage you realize you’re going to run out of space and have to drop your retention. You get yourself in a very difficult position. Storage capacity has historically been a problem. A cloud-based solution makes life so much easier, not having to compromise on the ability to restore.


90% less time is spent managing backups: “It’s a dramatic decrease in labor cost.” It’s gone from at least 1 to 2 FTEs per day, and they were running behind, to just something for one person fits easily into the rest of their day.


Create happier technicians and free them up to work on more exciting and billable projects. “Freeing up that time has been pretty valuable for us.” “We typically have our higher-tier techs looking at the backup because of the importance of them.” Now we have 40% utilization open because we are not checking backups.” “We literally had dedicated NOC resources monitoring these backups and the amount of time we spent to fix them was atrocious. They just never ran effectively.” Using Tier 1 techs versus Tier 3 techs can impact tech satisfaction, security, and admin access. You can free up technicians to add value in other ways, including billable projects.


The overall impact: better service, lower costs, happier technicians, peace of mind. “The amount of man-hours we’ve saved is absolutely brilliant. It’s day and night. We’ve never seen something like that before.

“There was quite a bit of money that was saved, and our managing director came over to me and said, ‘look I can see the bills dropped by thousands. This is phenomenal. Thank you very much. How did you do it?’ And I said, buy me a beer and we’ll talk about it.”