I mentioned in a previous blog that Business Solutions is planning to feature a new type of editorial beginning with our January 2013 issue: product tests. I'm happy to report that things are underway, and we're starting to plan our first test, which will focus on RMM (remote monitoring and management) products. With the help of an MSP (who we'll reveal later), we'll be comparing several RMM products.
The MSP I spoke with today was particularly interested in performing this test because he felt "there is no silver bullet; there's no one-size fits all." He was already looking at many of the vendors we were interested in testing such as Continuum, GFI, Kaseya, LabTech, Level Platforms, N-able, and Quest PacketTrap.
We talked through the testing process, and I asked him what he felt were the top categories other MSPs would want to know about. Here's what he felt was the most important criteria for the test:
1. Does the vendor have its own NOC (network operation center)? This can be a significant advantage, especially for a smaller MSP, especially if as part of your service contract with the RMM vendor, it can identify and troubleshoot some of your customers' level one IT issues remotely -- without getting you involved.
2. Does the product use agents or is it agentless? This is always an area of hot debate among RMM vendors. Those selling agent-based solutions talk about a simpler billing model that's more precise at identifying only the assets your customers are paying to have you manage. Proponents of agentless-based solutions, on the other hand, talk about the benefit of being able to monitor anything with an IP address, including multifunction peripherals (MFPs) and mobile devices.
We're planning to get a bit more granular with this issue, too. For example, when comparing two agent-based solutions, we want to find out if one product runs into any glitches while installing its agents on any networked devices. We also want to know about the alerting capabilities of the software -- Does it fire off an alert for every minor issue, or does it have intelligence built-in?
3. SaaS-based or on-premise? Many MSPs are moving their customers' data, applications, and platforms to the cloud. Is it still necessary for them to use on-premise solutions to monitor their customers' IT assets or can a SaaS-based solution do the job just as well or better? We're interested to find out that answer, and so is our tester.
4. Mobile support. There's a lot of research pointing to the explosion of BYOD (bring your own device), and many VARs and MSPs are figuring out how they can help their customers with mobile device management. Some RMM vendors are expanding their products to include mobile support. We're curious to see which mobile platforms are being supported, what level of services are offered (e.g. remote lock and/or wipe)
It's not too late to weigh in on this topic. Besides the four criteria mentioned above, what other criteria do you want to see included as we prepare to put RMM vendors to the test?