Friday, August 08, 2014

SOP: Your RMM/Monitoring System

If a PSA is the tool you use to run you managed service business, the RMM - Remote Monitoring and Management - tool is what you use to deliver your managed services. While there are three primary PSA vendors, there are at least a dozen "primary" RMM vendors.

The primary vendors are probably GFI Max, Continuum, Kaseya, and LabTech. As it happens, I have used all of these tools. Each has a different business model and pricing model. As of this writing, I am a GFI Max reseller, so take that as full disclosure.

The most important things that any RMM tool must do for you are:
- Monitor computer systems (and report problems)
- Apply patches, primarily security patches
- Provide remote access to client computers

Your RMM tool basically allows you to "automatically" manage thousands of machines instead of the hundreds you might be able to manage manually. When we look at our Monthly Maintenance routine (see Volume Four in the about-to-be-released SOP series), we see all kinds of monitoring that we used to do once per month. A great example is free disc space. Now, with an RMM tool, we measure that every second of every day, all month long. Instead of once a month, it is monitored continuously.

More importantly, we can monitor things like CPU usage, security failures, unexpected reboots, and failed services. Those things can be immediate threats to a business' uptime.

A good RMM system will have a dashboard that lets you see the health of all of your client's computers at the same time. Red lights, yellow lights, and green lights. An array that lets you know whether things are working smoothly.

In finer detail, an RMM will monitor millions of small things (really). These include tasks, services, patches, anti-virus, backups, email, web activity, attached devices, event logs, and lots more. And these happen all the time, in real time, across all client computers, devices, and telephones.

Choose an RMM

Some people would argue that one RMM is pretty much the same as another. That might be true when you have ten computers to monitor. But when you have a thousand, or ten thousand machines, then you need something that's very robust, easy to configure, and that you can train your employees on.

My personal preference is for a system that allows me to pay for just what I use, not buy 100 or 1,000 licenses at a time.

All good RMM solutions have a remote control system built in. It might be a brand name you've heard of, such as VNC or Team Viewer, or it might be proprietary for the RMM software.

In either case, you will find yourself using it a lot. In fact, many people avoid buying an RMM tool because they have a preferred remote control agent and use Microsoft's automated patch management. That can take you a long ways, but it really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to RMM tools.

Other key features that you need are real time chat or video chat while working with a client, and real time integration with the PSA tool. What does that mean?

There are two primary integrations you should look for. First, there are real time alerts. When a server reboots unexpectedly, your RMM tool should open a ticket in your PSA so that you can investigate. You should literally know about it before the client does.

Second, your RMM should integrate into your PSA. It should report the number of licenses in use. It should send information that can be used in a monthly or quarterly health report.

The first priority of you RMM is patch management. The second priority is remote control. The third priority is integration with the PSA.

If you're looking at an RMM tool, it should do an excellent job of these three things. Period. If it doesn't, go find another tool.

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