As a Managed Service Provider (MSP), we are responsible for all our clients’ computers and the smooth running of their operation.
In return our clients expect round the clock support and a quick and efficient service the moment help is needed.
By David Todd, Head of Technology Digital Workplace and Platform
Many MSPs use a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) platform, a type of IT software that allows managed service providers to remotely monitor their customer’s employees’ devices, endpoints and networks.
IT Naturally recently went through the process of selecting a new RMM. Here’s a review of what we choose and how we came to that decision.
Selecting the right RMM platform
Like a child in a sweetshop, it would be so much easier to decide if there were just one or two, but there are a lot of RMMs out there. We considered many of the big players, including SolarWinds, Ninja, Atera, Kaseya and ConnectWise, as well as some of the less well-known ones, including the one we eventually selected Naverisk.
One of the reasons there are so many RMM options out there is that it’s not a one size fits all scenario. They all have pros and cons depending on what you need as an MSP. This meant we tested a few so we could select the tool which best fitted IT Naturally’s customer base, structure and skillset and would work alongside our service desk partner, ServiceNow.
We wanted a tool that was appropriate to a growing MSP and was cloud based. Some RMMs require an on-site installation and for our smaller customers (who may have distributed IT without a connected WAN) this wouldn’t have been appropriate, so it ruled out a few.
Conversely, many customers have servers which for security reasons don’t have access to the internet, so we needed an RMM that could also make this possible for these to still be managed from the cloud our end.
Considering who would use the RMM and how they would use it helped make decisions around cost and functionality. We selected platforms where the licencing model was per device, rather than per user. As a fundamental tool for our business, we want to make sure that as many IT Naturally staff can access it without incurring additional cost. With all teams licenced to use it, we looked for functionality that would support each team and discipline within IT Naturally, whether that’s the Service Desk deploying software, the Security team auditing a computer of the Platform team validating a backup.
Keeping computers up to date with the latest security patches is, of course a priority for us. All RMM tools we looked at had this capability, but they did it in different ways. One feature we really needed was to have different deployment rings, i.e., validators, early adopters and general rollout groups. Solarwinds RMM (now N-Able) is great at this and has a class-leading, highly useable interface for managing these updates, but Naverisk gave us the granularity we were looking for as well as adding one of my favourite features: a calendaring system, making it obvious what is happening when for each client.
Whilst on the topic of security, easy validation that endpoint protection software is running on computers was a requirement too. IT Naturally works with multiple endpoint protection providers; our preferred product is CrowdStrike Falcon. All RMMs we evaluated included security reports or dashboards for endpoint protection, some of which were extremely customisable and some less so. One RMM had no way to include CrowdStrike in its security reports, so that dropped off the list.
Remote Support for Customers
From the RMM, we can provide remote support to our customers with screen sharing. For us at It Naturally, we will only ever do this with consent from the user, we would also ask them to close or minimise any documents and ensure an audit log is kept. With one of the RMMs we tested, whenever viewing the detailed monitoring of a connected computer it immediately showed a snapshot of what the user had on their screen, without getting the user’s consent and there was no way to turn this off. That was a big no-no for us, so this tool dropped out of the running.
We didn’t want to learn new languages for the RMM platform – our efforts and time are better spent supporting our customers. Because of this it was important that we could make the most of the scripting languages we all know and love, from simple batch file processing to PowerShell. We found that Ninja RMM has a flexible scripting engine, making it great for task automation. However, this alone wasn’t enough to make IT Naturally select it.
Finally, we had to remember to not get distracted by how pretty the RMM is! Yes, it’s important that the interface is clear and understandable, and we’re immediately attracted to those that look really slick, but it’s more important that the RMM ticks all the other boxes we have mentioned.
There were certainly some standout features for certain RMMs – but in the end for us it had to be Naverisk, as that’s the RMM that works best for IT Naturally and our customers.
All views expressed are my own.
David Todd, Head of Technology Digital Workplace and Platform
Read more about IT Naturally’s Digital Workplace Managed Services