Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) is a category of services, designed to help IT specialists monitor and manage IT infrastructure - from desktops and servers to network availability and setup. These tools are essential for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), who monitor their clients in a timely fashion and provide services under given SLA’s. IT technicians can save time on patches and update management, software installation, and configuration, solving issues, etc.
In this article, we are going to overview core features of RMM tools and leading MSP monitoring tools on the market.
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MSP Monitoring Tools Core Features
Remote monitoring and management tools can become the relief for you and your customers, the essential tool for great service, or the pain in the back for all your employees. Each of the RMM tools has its strengths and set of additional features. We, however, have compiled a shortlist of core functions you should evaluate when choosing the right solution for your environment.
Ease of Deployment
Remote monitoring and management solution can and, most probably will, become your eyes and hands in the environment of the customer. But before that, you need to deploy it somehow.
Most remote monitoring and management tools nowadays are cloud-based, but require you to have client apps - called ‘agents’ - that you need to install on your clients' computers and servers. These agents will do the most of the job - they are tracking, monitoring and allowing you to perform the needed actions.
Keep an eye for auto-discovery and “push-installation” features. With these, you can simply select the new system in the management console and begin the remote installation of the RMM agent. Otherwise, it is necessary to deploy a client’s installation file with third-party tools (Windows Active Directory GPO, scripts, PSA tools, etc).
Let’s put it this way - you either are reaching the client, creating a screen sharing session, sending instructions on how to install and configure everything, or simply pushing the button and everything works on its own.
Built-in Remote Desktop Application
Every once in a while there are issues within your client's IT-infrastructure. And, most probably, it will be your job to fix these. If the client is sitting next to you - this won’t be an issue, but that is highly doubtful. In most cases, you need to reach the client remotely.
The remote control is a definitive feature in the search for remote monitoring and management tools. You can easily connect to a remote server system and directly complete necessary actions, as though you were accessing the server’s console. Moreover, you can skip the tedious phone instructions to the user, in cases of solving remote issues!
Remote desktop connection almost becomes a necessity when you are managing clients from other cities. If you have already deployed your RMM system but still don't have a solution, or would like to try something new - we have developed a free and secure MSP360 Remote Desktop.
Further reading Secure Remote Desktop with MSP360 Remote Desktop
Dashboard Functionality and Single Pane of Glass
Nowadays, everyone in the IT-software is designing their own “single pane of glass” dashboard. However, you need to be extra attentive, when reviewing the actual function of the dashboard of the candidate for your RMM solution. You and your employees will spend a lot of time working with it, so it’s better to suit your environment perfectly.
Performing daily administration routines, you will need a customized dashboard with a summary of all of the systems, which require your attention. Rather than manually check the status of remote systems, you can take a glance at a dashboard panel and see the scope of new systems, systems that require actions, lists of last errors found, etc. Remote monitoring and management tools often have a separate web server showing said dashboard, or a daily summary report can be sent to the given e-mail.
Depending on whether you already have a separate Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool, you can choose remote monitoring and management tools with the support of PSA. The deeper the integration it offers – the better: RMM tools can automatically create “issue” tickets in your helpdesk tracking system, send a triggered alert by e-mail, schedule a few maintenance tasks, etc. Automation saves time, allows you to proactively solve issues prior to the customer report, and meet your SLA for common issues.
In the world of today, it is simply not efficient enough to spend time and money on the outdated systems, that should be controlled by a human being. The time that you spend on implementing the top-notch automated RMM-PSA system will be paid off in the first weeks if not days of your work.
Checking periodic reports is necessary, not only for your IT specialists but customers, too. Using your RMM reports, clients can check their system’s health and whether it meets their own business SLAs. The key point here, being the ability to customize such reports, as much as possible and to schedule its regular or per-action delivery.
Ask yourself - how will you bill your clients (if not doing it already)? The billing system of the RMM solution should suit your needs and your cash flow.
Remote monitoring and management tools are perfect when they are pay as you go compliant, thus saving you operational costs. This means that you can only buy additional licenses when you get new client systems. There is also a server’s platform fee since RMM tools are generally distributed with SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud model.
The Best MSP Monitoring Tools
Here you will find a list of TOP market-leading RMM tools with a brief description. There are a lot of such tools on the market, but we have shortlisted the best to help you choose. We have chosen the companies, that provide stable and thoughtful solutions, well-known on the market. There are remote monitoring and management tools for enterprise-level and small-mid range as well. You, for sure, can seek the hidden gem, but why, if there is a gem, lying right in front of you?
Further reading RMM: What MSPs Need to Monitor
Autotask Endpoint Management
Autotask EM (AEM) is a SaaS management solution, so you do not need to set up your server infrastructure. AEM however, requires the installation of an agent on every device, of which you will be connecting to or from. You can download the agent on a remote system and manually start the silent installation, or you can use Active Directory GPO to do this work for you. An option of autonomous AEM installation, to deploy agents across LAN segments by using “push” functionality, if one of the devices already has the agent installed - you can just use it, as a starting point of massive deployment.
AEM can start your scripts on remote devices, collect log files, do some patchwork, run PowerShell commands, etc. You will be able to chat with the user, but not directly delete remote applications, nor change user groups’ membership using GUI. All of these options, though, are fully covered when using CMD and PowerShell consoles.
The main advantage of Autotask EM is that it is part of a unified RMM/PSA solution, meaning you can easily integrate it with automation tools.
Ninja has introduced it's remote management and monitoring solution, that is more suitable for medium business users, rather than enterprise. It has, however, a wide range of flexible features and integration - you can integrate with most popular PSA systems on the market. Ninja is highly focused on security, so it offers amongst the most thorough 360-degree monitoring on the market.
The usual stuff for remote monitoring and management tools is also here - you can set up the software remotely, do patching, scripting, etc.
The other strong point for Ninja is easy, pay-as-you-go per-device pricing. If you don't like to pay yearly, or you are tired of bulky enterprise-like solutions and would like something lighter, yet packed with good core features - check out Ninja.
Another remote monitoring and management tool on the list is ConnectWise Automate, which has a cloud-based server with client-server architecture for managed computers. It has remote monitoring and reporting options, as well as alerting and automated system trigger-driven remediation. It allows you to manage user devices and monitor their performance using a unified dashboard, including tasks such as creating and editing user accounts, running shell commands and uninstalling apps with a few clicks.
This particular RMM solution includes an agent “push” installation method, for when you need to manually install only the first agent on the network and it can then handle others. ConnectWise Automate can also be integrated with TigerPaw and Autotask PSA systems for better management flexibility.
Rebrandable, easy-to-use, simple to install and start with, one of the cheapest on the list - this is Repairtech Kabuto. Kabuto may lack some of the features of big and heavy remote monitoring and management tools, but it is one of the easiest to start with.
Be sure, that each feature, that Kabuto lists on their advertising page is working well. Repairtech is not trying to put every feature in their solution - they are testing each one for quite a long time and it gets in the product only after a thorough examination.
Kabuto is turned towards SMB's in terms of pricing and communication - they are always ready to help, don't fuss around with sales requests and perform quite helpful webinars for their users.
Similar to the above-mentioned RMM tools, Kaseya VSA is enabled to remotely manage clients’ systems from one location, with a server based on a SaaS cloud. You can run commands and scripts as if you were right in front of it, without the end user’s interruption. VSA is a part of an integrated Kaseya solution with RMM/PSA functions.
The software is a bit more complicated in terms of usage if you want to manage a few different companies’ computers - you simply cannot group devices from different domains into one single dashboard. Other features and Installation methods are pretty the same as Autotask and Connectwise.
Another SaaS-based RMM solution mostly based on ‘LogMeIn’ collected data. The solution has widespread remote monitoring and management capabilities, including remote support tools, running scripts and remote data collection. Due to its roots from LogMeIn, it can be unstable sometimes.
Agents’ deployment mechanics are consistent with other RMM tools: push and manual installations. With Continuum, you pay as you go, per device, with no device minimum. The company notably has US-based support technicians to ensure high-quality support.
Atera produces an All-in-One SaaS management system for MSPs, including RMM features and professional services automation (PSA). Using a combination of built-in PSA and remote monitoring and management tools, Atera provides you with a fully-featured solution, but the software is a bit less customizable, compared to its competitors.
With remote monitoring and assistance support, Atera also has CRM capabilities, thus simplifying client management, in case you do not have separate CRM tools. The solution offers affordable pricing rates thanks to per-technician licenses.
As you may see from this review, most remote monitoring and management tools have the same capabilities, but with slight differences that you can only evaluate when trying the software for yourself. This is simple, thanks to FREE trials and SaaS-based management servers.
When choosing from a variety of RMM tools, please do not forget to check whether it integrates with your antivirus and backup systems, allowing you to have a detailed view of what is happening in your network.
The last, but not the least piece of advice - evaluate the solution hard. Do stress tests, based on your experience and vision. All the aforementioned companies will happily provide you an extended trial period when you need one.