The power bar, surge protector, whatever you want to call it. It’s the simplest concept in the world and it turns one wall receptacle into many. 4, 6 even 8 plugs from a single one. Enough said. Go home. The review is over.
Just kidding. Today we’re taking a look at what I’m calling the deluxe, cadillac version of a power bar. It’s loaded with technology and most interestingly, it’s cloud connected. But first, let’s take a look at the company producing this wonder bar. Datto.
Right about now you’re wondering who the heck is Datto and why haven’t I heard of them before. It’s primarily because Datto deals with channel partners only and is subscription based. Oh and all that means they care about the enterprise, not the consumer space.
The brain-child of a man named Austin McChord in 2007, Datto has grown to be a multinational business worth over $1.5 billion USD with 1700 employees world wide. And yes, Austin started the business in his garage like any epic tech entrepreneur. Unlike most big tech giants, Datto remains headquartered in Austin’s hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut.
Initially the business centered about a server backup solution which evolved to be one of the most intriguing backup models and approaches I’ve ever seen. Sure, competitors have caught up in the last couple years, but Datto has been doing their groovy thing for over a decade.
Enough about the company though, you said something about a power bar?
The glorified power bar!
Well here it is. The glorified power bar I have said so little about.
First off, the MP60 spearheads a lineup Datto calls their Managed Power. They offer a single plug version (the MP10) as well, but the MP60 is the most intriguing.
So let’s look at it. 6 outlets. Check, it’s a power bar. But wait…are those 2 USB ports I see at the end? Uh huh. 4 in fact – 2 Type-A and 2 Type-C ports. The Type-A’s are both rated at 1 amp while the Type-C’s are both rated at 2.1 amps – damn near close to the 5V/3A output of my Pixel 4 charger.
Well that all looks rather standard…until we rotate and look at the business end.
Well I’ll be the first to say it’s refreshing to see a power bar where the power cable can be disconnected for convenience, easy storage or replacement if it’s just too short for the location you want it in. Props to Datto for considering that. But…is that an Ethernet port beside it? Yes! Yes it is! That’s an Ethernet jack on the side and did I mention, the damn thing also sports 802.11n Wi-Fi?
Why do I need the internet on my power bar?
Well that’s where things get interesting and really, why I’m reviewing a power bar to begin with. This is a cloud connected, or rather cloud managed power bar aimed at enterprise. The intended use is your Managed Service Provider sells you a few of these and plugs all the servers, switches, firewalls, etc into the Managed Power devices. Then if one fails to respond, locks up or otherwise is unavailable then, without bothering you the client, they can remotely trigger a hard power cycle of the device through the cloud connection. But honestly, the options are bound only by imagination, use cases and your gear.
I personally plugged my mining rigs into this and when I needed to remotely reboot due to a freeze or some other issue, I didn’t need to trek over to the site, I could do it from home at 2am without any headaches.
Is Cloud Management any good?
A layered question, but in a word, yes. It gives you a bunch of functionality you never thought you needed with a power bar.
The portal is again, for MSP’s so it allows for multi-tenancy – the ability to manage devices from multiple different clients. Once the MP60 is assigned to a site, then you can begin configuring it.
You can assign names/descriptions to each of the 6 power ports on it. For the purpose of this review, I’ve named these after the devices at my desk. When devices are plugged in and running, you can see a graph of power consumption – both by outlet and combined which is extremely useful if you want to know how much power devices are consuming. In the example of my mining operation, if a rig halted mining, I could see on the graph what time the power consumption dropped from over 1500W to just a couple hundred.
You can schedule power cycles of each of the ports, enable or DISABLE them remotely so someone isn’t connected devices to the MP60 without your knowledge and making your life difficult.
If you connect, for example, your modem to port 1, you can configure a ping test and associated action if it fails. In this example, if the ping to the internet fails, power cycle the port 1 which will power cycle the modem. Basic troubleshooting…automated.
You said it has WiFi?!
It comes with built-in 802.11n WiFi. Definitely nothing to write home about. That said, how much data transfer should really be occurring on this device? Not much.
Unfortunately it gets worse though. You can only use the WiFi for an internet connection on the MP60 IF you’re using Datto for your WiFi infrastructure too. If you’re using Aruba, Ubiquiti, Ruckus, Cisco or something else, you’re out of luck – go begin sacrificing Ethernet ports on your giant switches. Datto says this has something to do with initial configuration and the MP60 knows how to find/connect up to the Datto AP’s.
This really bites to be honest. If Datto is listening – fix this. Even if I have to connect up the Ethernet port to connect up to the cloud and perform an initial WiFi configuration – that’s better than locking out the functionality completely.
It all sounds too good to be true
It is a wonder (power) bar. Tons of USB ports for device charging, 6 power outlets, cloud managed so you can control it and monitor from anywhere. There’s got to be a catch…and you’re not wrong. As I said earlier, Datto is a channel company and works primarily with Managed Service Providers. These companies work on recurring revenues and so the model is that there’s a monthly subscription fee for EACH MP60. The most devices you have, the lower the per-device fee is but honestly, I don’t think anyone is ready to drop 100 of these into their data center.
Datto is a solid company who has branched out in recent years from their backup solution roots to networking, and even power. The MP60 is a solid offering at a reasonable price for what it offers. The monthly fee sucks from a consumer perspective but the freedom it provides an MSP not having to bother the client with trivial tasks is invaluable.
It falls short in the networking department – ironically – with the WiFi being a sticking point for me. I would like to see it work on non-Datto WiFi solutions – configurable from the MSP portal.
At the end of the day, I love this power bar and wish I could get something a little less costly month to month. As a business though, the MP60 can be a huge addition to any MSP’s portfolio regardless of whether you sell other Datto products.