Magazine Article | May 15, 2014

An MSP Uses RMM To "Exorcise" A Law Firm's Server Room

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By Jay McCall

An RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool solves a law firm’s unexplained server problem and earns this MSP a recurring revenue contract with multiple upsell opportunities.

Warren Hino has seen his share of IT abnormalities since starting a break-fix IT service company 10 years ago. Over the years, however, 80-hour workweeks and chaotic Mondays led Hino to investigate managed services in 2010, which he decided would be a more sustainable career option. Fast forward four years and Hino is thankful he made the move. “We’ve averaged 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth over the past four years, and it’s a much less stressful work environment for us and our customers,” he says.

Hino is so convinced that managed services is better than break-fix — for him and his clients — that he doesn’t make any exceptions for prospects who want to work with his company without a managed services contract. “We explain to reluctant prospects that our RMM tool is essential for keeping their servers up and running. Not only do we catch outages as they happen, such as a drop in Internet connectivity or power failures, we can also proactively respond to imminent failures such as a hard drive filling up or drive failures on a RAID system,” he says. “In fact, we’ve even used our RMM tool to help educate a law firm client who was convinced that the only possible explanation for frequent server failures was that its server room was haunted.”

The Chronic Server Breakdown Mystery Solved
A law firm located near Numa Networks’ Orange County, CA, facility contacted the MSP after finding one of the MSP’s posts on an IT forum. After discussing the prospect’s IT needs and learning that the firm’s part-time IT person was going to retire, the MSP described its remote monitoring service, including how it could enable the law firm to have real-time monitoring of its two servers and 33 work stations at less than the cost of hiring a part-time IT person. The firm’s business managers were intrigued, but skeptical, and it was while addressing the prospect’s hesitation that the MSP uncovered something it had never heard of before. “There were a couple of people at the firm who were convinced the server room was cursed,” recalls Hino. “They explained to us that nearly every two weeks one of their servers breaks down and their IT person is constantly installing replacement parts. What’s more is that the problem had been going on for over a year and led to an average of four hours of downtime a month.”

In addition to alleged paranormal pests wreaking havoc in the prospect’s server room, the MSP discovered that the IT person spent nearly every hour of his 20-hour work week troubleshooting computers and printers, which contributed to additional downtime. “Server downtime cost the law firm about $3,500 per hour — or $14,000 per month — in lost billing opportunities , but it had come to accept that there was nothing it could do about it,” says Hino.

After building the client’s trust with customer testimonials and other proofs, Numa Networks won a managed services Subscribe to Business Solutions magazinecontract with the law firm and was eager to get to the bottom of the firm’s IT issues. “We installed our N-able by SolarWinds monitoring agents on their servers and network devices on a Friday evening over a three-hour period, and two days later we received our first clue into the server room mystery,” says Hino. “Our RMM tool notified us of a temperature alert that the server room was surpassing 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than 40 degrees above the recommended safe operating temperature.”

The following morning Numa Networks’ Chief Systems Engineer Jason Berg stopped by the client’s facility at about 9 a.m. to investigate the problem. “The temperature was normal, and the only thing even slightly unusual was that the server room door was open,” recalls Berg. After inquiring about the open door with the law firm’s secretary, she confirmed to Berg that every Monday morning she opened the door to the server room to let all the heat out. “She had been doing this for over a year, and she never communicated this as a problem to the previous IT person,” says Berg. “After investigating things further, we discovered that the building owner turned off the air conditioning on Sundays. It was this one day a week of high temperatures that was the true culprit of their failed server parts. Heat is the enemy of server components. Power supplies, hard drives, and motherboards can only handle so much heat before they fail.”

RMM Leads To 75% Uptime Improvement, BDR And MDM Upsells
The MSP replaced the law firm’s server with a new Dell server and set up a local AC unit in the server room and exorcised the server room of its demons in the process. “In addition to remedying the firm’s server room issue, we used special applications and automation tools from our RMM tool such as patch management, disk checking, hard drive defragmentation, antivirus, and antispam, which automatically resolved the majority of stability issues the firm was having,” says Berg.

“It really is amazing how much better we can serve our clients with a properly managed RMM tool.”

Warren Hino, president, Numa Networks

The MSP reduced the law firm’s downtime by more than 75 percent, which led to an immediate return on investment and enabled the firm to invest in additional IT services at Numa Networks’ recommendation. According to Hino and Berg, it’s rare for the MSP to need to come on-site to troubleshoot an IT issue.

“Since the initial implementation, we’ve added additional hybrid cloud services and upgraded their data backup to ShadowProtect BDR [backup and disaster recovery],” says Hino. Not only is the law firm operating more efficiently than ever before, but it’s now compliant with HIPAA regulations, which is important since many of the firm’s clients are healthcare practices.

“It really is amazing how much better we can serve our clients with a properly managed RMM tool,” says Hino. “It helps us provide clients with the information they need to make educated decisions and dispels any confusion or “curses” that keep them from achieving network stability.”

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