Your Guide to Software Selection

MSP Software: Necessary Features and Recommended Products

Security is an essential part of managed service provider services.

That’s why for many IT companies that want to become a managed service provider (MSP), the number one task is finding the right software to get the job done.

Even though technology has opened up huge possibilities for businesses to run more efficiently and reduce costs, they have also created new vulnerabilities that, if not dealt with, could have dire consequences. In fact, according to PWC’s Global Economic and Fraud Survey of 2018, 26% of companies said they were expecting a cyber-attack within the next two years.

That’s why the role of managed service providers has become more critical every year. As an MSP, an IT company is responsible for ensuring that they’re protecting customers. At the same time, they must do so without becoming intruding on their clients’ day-to-day operations.

Keeping the IT environment safe requires an MSP to keep track of every process in the network at all times.

Luckily, there are software solutions that come with a long list of features that make the process easier. With remote monitoring and management (RMM) software, IT companies can secure their client’s networks while ensuring they run smoothly, no matter what challenges arise.

What is RMM?

Remote monitoring and management software, or RMM, is designed to help IT service providers manage their clients’ IT infrastructure.

While today’s RMM software comes with a robust list of features, most of them can be boiled down to two essential aspects of providing MSP services.

The first function of RMM is to help IT companies track and manage the IT infrastructure with the help of performance data and reporting. This includes tracking applications, devices, desktops and servers. Doing so makes it easy for your staff to quickly spot potential issues and get ahead of them before they turn into significant problems.

The second part of remote monitoring and management software mostly deals with maintenance and management tasks. This regularly updates the system while handling various necessary configurations. All of these tasks and more can be managed remotely from the managed service provider’s office, saving time and resources. Plus, it provides a more cost-effective service to clients.

As mentioned before, while these two functions are the staple of any comprehensive RMM solution, industry-leading vendors offer a range of other features. They can even integrate with third-party products such as backup & disaster recovery or PSA (professional services automation) solutions.

Professional services automation software integration is particularly useful for IT companies. It helps create a complete solution for managing clients and your business in a single location.

With the help of PSA and RMM integration, you can streamline your processes and eliminate the data bottlenecks that decrease efficiency. The integration can also help you see the full picture, enhancing the knowledge base in the process. By storing and analyzing information about previous issues, companies can find the root cause of every problem and prevent it from happening again in the future.

To that end, your best bet is to use both software solutions at once. They complement each other perfectly and can help any MSP business run better.

Essential RMM Features

So what features should you look for in a comprehensive RMM system? Well, here are a few that must be present to get the most out of the software.

Remote Monitoring and Access

As the name implies, remote monitoring is an essential part of any comprehensive RMM solution. It’s what helps IT companies quickly identify and solve any potential issues without sending technicians to a client’s physical location.

A good remote monitoring and management system provides a wide range of tools, extensive visibility and is compatible with the most popular operating systems, devices and applications.

With remote access, MSPs can quickly access their client’s IT infrastructure and ensure that everything runs smoothly at all times. Providing data on software and hardware performance as well as a comprehensive history of all past errors means that changes can be spotted in an instant. This allows you to solve the issue without disrupting the client’s systems.

More advanced RMM solutions allow you to fix problems in the background without the need to take over desktop systems or other devices. This eliminates the need to inform the user, allowing you to provide better service.

Backup and Recovery

Another essential feature of RMM systems is a secure and reliable backup/recovery system. Since data is often a company’s most valuable asset, the most crucial task of an MSP is to ensure that it safely backs up if anything goes wrong.

In fact, it’s not just about losing data. Constant accessibility to that data is just as important. In case of unexpected issues, managed service providers must be able to offer access to backup data as soon as possible in order to prevent downtime.

The same goes for protecting transferred data. According to Kroll’s 2016 Ontrack Research, a shocking one-third of companies experience data loss when moving their data. Since any loss of data can mean substantial financial or reputational damage, MSPs must ensure that all the data is protected in case something unexpected happens.

That’s why any good MSP software solution must include backup and disaster Recovery functionality. This is an essential insurance policy, allowing IT companies to restore client operations and prevent permanent data loss.

What’s more, the backed up data must be secured and encrypted using the most recent technology to prevent it from being stolen or hacked.

Patch Management

Patch management is another essential part of remote monitoring and management software. It needs to be able to patch all of the necessary applications and provide extensive reporting functionality so that each patch can be tracked and analyzed.

A good RMM solution should allow you to quickly and easily manage patching, blacklist patches with errors and even test patches before deployment. This prevents downtimes while ensuring that each patch works correctly and is compatible with the system.

Mobile Device Management

Since mobile devices have become an essential part of day-to-day operations, there’s no surprise that today’s RMM solutions provide mobile device management (MDM) functionality.

Just like any other device, mobile devices require maintenance and are prone to breakdowns. As such, a good RMM solution must provide the ability to deploy, monitor, manage and secure both Android and iOS mobile devices.

The software should make it easy to manage data and configuration settings, perform patching and distribute applications while providing visibility and remote access.

Web Protection

Since web threats are usually the biggest risk MSPs have to deal with, comprehensive security management practices are essential.

Every device must be monitored and managed constantly to ensure that the most recent updates are installed and that everything works correctly.

The danger and potential damage that can be caused by online threats have been increasing, with new risks becoming prominent every year. Ransomware is becoming more sophisticated and harder to prevent. Cyber attacks have reached a global scale. And data hacks of any kind can be devastating. Therefore, cybersecurity measures provided by an RMM system must be continuously updated in order to keep up.

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It’s important for managed service providers to provide the latest malware protection for their clients, while at the same time filtering web content and monitoring bandwidth for any suspicious activity.

Top 3 Solutions

It’s clear that the right RMM system is essential for managed service providers. But how should you choose the right vendor that meets your individual needs?

Well, here are three of the best solutions available, each of which comes with a range of powerful features:

Desktop Central MSP

Desktop Central MSP is one of the leading MSP software vendors that specialize in desktop management features. It offers a wide range of functions that can meet the requirements of any MSP, no matter the size.

Desktop Central allows you to manage an impressive 10,000 computers with just one installation. The system also makes troubleshooting problems and making changes remotely much easier. At the same time, it tracks all of the device’s activity while providing extensive data.

There are also great automation options. MSPs can automate desktop management tasks such as patch or software installation, managing assets, monitoring data and even taking control of remote desktops.

Desktop Central MSP supports Windows, Mac and Linux-based systems. It also provides comprehensive mobile device management capabilities such as manually enrolling devices in bulk or allowing users to self-enroll using a secure two-factor identification.

As far as security goes, Desktop Central MSP is one of the best in its class. The system allows you to completely configure security policies such as device lock or passcode, which minimizes the chances of data breaches.

Comodo One

If you aren’t quite ready to adopt a premium RMM solution but still want to test the waters, then Comodo One might be your choice. It’s a free solution, but don’t let that fool you. Comodo One comes with a wide range of features and a track record of success.

While it’s relatively new — it only debuted a few years back — Comodo One provides all the standard features you’d expect from a remote monitoring and management solution. Real-time data, network alerts and process automation are just a few of its many features.

While Comodo One is free, it also sells its own managed antivirus solutions, as well as numerous add-ons. This is in case you decide you want additional functionality such as mobile device management or integration with Acronis Backup.

As the software is still pretty new, there’s still room to grow. But with free features such as patch management and service desk, it’s quite the solid choice. If you don’t have the budget for a paid solution, it may be your ideal solution.

SolarWinds RMM

Formerly known as GFI MAX RemoteManagement, SolarWinds RMM is another great vendor that comes with a complete set of features.

The solution can remotely track performance and implement thorough security measures on all of the most popular operating systems. And that’s not to mention tracking and securing mobile devices, platforms and servers.

For the convenience of MSPs, SolarWinds RMM can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, as both options provide the same functionality.

With real-time data and quick remote access, IT technicians have all the tools they need to quickly detect security or performance issues. Plus, they can fix them without the need to notify the user. SolarWinds also comes with advanced malware protection functions, providing robust protection from cyber attacks or ransomware. Web protection comes with bandwidth monitoring, access controls, time-based browsing policies and comprehensive threat protection to ensure that data is always secure.

Another way that SolarWinds helps prevent ransomware attacks, as well as other threats, is by providing reliable backup & recovery tools. The data is backed up both onsite to a backup drive and offsite in the cloud to ensure that no matter what happens, you can always recover your data.

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