RMM is the “remote monitoring and management” of an IT system. The concept enables multi-site businesses to centralize all IT support functions at one location.
Another business strategy that RMM enables is the outsourcing of IT management and support. This opportunity has created the “managed service provider” (MSP) sector. Now separate companies can take over the day-to-day support of all IT systems, leaving the client company to focus its efforts on its core business.
MSPs use a lot of software tools. In fact, just about every action that MSP technicians perform needs to be supported by software. This is an advantage because automated procedures and software-guided actions are less prone to error than human actions.
Benefits of bundling utilities into a package
When a technician needs to use software for any task, there are always boundary points between the competence of related functions. Every technician has had the experience of two tools not quite working together as they should.
Buying a suite of tools removes the annoying frequency of functionality shortfalls and incompatibility. RMM packages guarantee that all of the necessary tools that a technician needs to monitor and manage remote systems have been tested will work well together.
Data exchange between modules
The providers of RMM software test all of the modules in the software bundles that they sell in real-world situations, ensuring that they have included all the necessary tools to enable an MSP’s remote support team to work effectively.
A great advantage of buying a full RMM package rather than individual tools is that the provider expects these systems to be operated in concert. This assumption has many advantages, not least because the provider doesn’t have to create completeness in each module. Knowing which tools that the technician will be using enables the RMM provider to flow information from one utility to another.
Information flows between tools cuts out the problems of human error or oversight. There won’t be the possibility of someone’s difficult handwriting causing data entry errors or keystrokes resulting in incorrectly transposed data. Automated data sharing also saves a lot of time.
Why an MSP needs RMM
An RMM system is particularly useful for a startup MSP. The manager responsible for buying software might not realize exactly which tools technicians who are yet to be hired might need in order to fulfill the support obligations of the company’s contracts.
RMM packages are assembled by examining the needs of existing MSP clients, so their providers make sure that the toolset includes everything that an MSP needs to support a remote client site. Whenever new concepts or utilities become available, every RMM provider makes sure to include that new tool, otherwise, they would lose sales to those industry leaders that provider more complete RMM software bundles.
RMM system elements
The basic architecture of an RMM system is the same for every suite. The tool needs three elements:
- A console
- A connection
- A remote agent
The console is the most visible part of the package. This is the dashboard that the technicians in the MSP use all day every day in their jobs.
The agent is a backend piece of software that enables access to the remote endpoint. This is the remote access enabler, which solves the problem of the remote network’s security system locking outsiders out. No company would opt to outsource its IT support if that meant removing all access blocks. So, all system security stays in place and the presence of the remote agent enables only the MSP and its authorized technicians to gain access to the client’s IT infrastructure.
The middle element of the architecture is the internet, which enables the console and the remote agent to connect to each other. As the internet is a public medium, it is essential that the console and the agent negotiate encryption for communications before any data is passed between them. All RMM systems prioritize connection security.
RMM implemented as SaaS
The remote services architecture enables MSPs to access equipment on the client’s site as though they were actually in that building. That concept can now be taken one step further. Remote delivery of facilities and software can also benefit the MSP.
The Software-as-a-Service model (SaaS) is another form of outsourcing. So, while MSPs perform outsourced monitoring, there is no reason why they should have to install and maintain all of the necessary software for their tasks on their own premises. Not having to run software on site also removes the need to buy and run servers on the premises. The Cloud provides a bundle of both software and supporting hardware.
Benefits to small and startup MSPs of Cloud-based RMM
Buying software and the hardware to run it on creates a lot of upfront costs for a business. An established operation can put money aside each month to save up for new hardware and software purchases. However, startups need to have all the money in place for those purchases before they can even start to win clients. Another problem is that without a credit history, no bank is going to lend money to an IT entrepreneur to fit out the new MSP.
Cloud services are ideal in these situations because they reduce the initial expenses of starting an MSP. Not only do they remove the need to buy hardware but they don’t charge for all of the software upfront. Instead, SaaS providers charge by subscription, so a new business only has to pay a small fee to use the service for one month. That gives the business time to gain clients and make some money to pay for the supporting software in the second month.
Subscription fees for cloud-based RMM systems are a fraction of the cost of the actual software. So, startup MSPs can get up and running without having to source a large amount of money first. Cloud-based RMM systems remove the need to hire in-house support technicians or pay for freelance specialists to come and set the office up. All the new business needs is a desktop computer with a browser on it and an internet connection. Any upgrades to software are also taken care of automatically by the RMM provider, so ongoing software and hardware costs are completely eradicated by the SaaS model.