Blog | August 7, 2012

Do You Make This Remote Monitoring Mistake?

By Jay McCall

I had the opportunity to visit managed services provider CMIT Solutions of Erie last week and met with CEO Beth Burnside and her team. During my visit, the MSP fielded a call from a new client, which had previously lost its IT person and needed help with its network, including updating its antivirus on 26 workstations. I visited the client with the MSP's lead tech support person, Nathan, and I got to see first hand how an RMM (remote monitoring and management) install works.

For those of you already familiar with the process of "deploying an agent," you can attest that it sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is. I did, however, learn an important tip in the process that the MSP said many other IT solutions providers often overlook. While installing the RMM solution, he created three separate passwords: one for the lead contact at the client, one for the MSP, and one for the MSP's outsourced NOC (network operation center) provider. "These are the three authorized administrators of this network," he said. "In the future, if something goes wrong with the network -- a worker gets logged off the network for some unknown reason, a server reboot fails, or something else goes awry -- I'll be able to see which administrator was logged in to the system at the time of the problem. Too many times an MSP will create one username and password to save time, but he or she will lose this important visibility in the process."

He shared with me a specific example of when this feature came in handy. His outsourced NOC provider is based overseas, more than 9 hours ahead of eastern standard time. While setting up a new client, he forgot to specify on the work order that server reboots should be scheduled after 6 p.m. EST (during nonworking hours for the client). He became aware of the oversight when his client called complaining that all the users were logged off the network and couldn't get back on for several minutes. "As soon as I checked the RMM screen, I saw that the NOC provider had logged in recently and did a server restart. I was able to contact them immediately and clear up the problem. Without that visibility, I would have had to go on-site to visit the customer, and I would have wasted a lot of time trying to diagnose the problem. That experience was a good reminder that spending a few extra minutes up front setting up separate administrator logins is time well spent."

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