What’s in an RMM?

A remote monitoring and management suite (RMM) provides all of the utilities that a technician needs in order to perform IT support for a client company. There are a number of “must have” modules that any package terming itself as an RMM needs to include. Although there are many packages on the market that have the basic RMM modules, the successful packages on the market offer some really useful extra modules.


An RMM should offer an MSP or an independent support technician all the necessary utilities to carry out a successful remote administration business. Here are the modules to look out for.


Real-time monitoring and alerts


Real-time monitoring is the core of an RMM system. You should expect to see remote monitoring of network performance and application delivery. Network monitoring usually relies on the procedures of the Simple Network Monitoring Protocol, which is automatically built into all network devices. The system just lacks a controller to demand data from device agents and interpret it.


SNMP remote monitoring is certainly going to be part of any RMM system that you look at. SNMP also includes a system that enables device agents to send urgent notifications to the system monitor. These get processed by the monitor as alerts. Look at how the monitor sends out those alerts, Every RMM will show alerts in the dashboard, but getting them sent as emails or text messages as well is a big advantage.


IT asset management


All RMM packages will include basic IT asset management functions. However, asset discovery and constant inventory tracking is what gets an RMM suite into the top division. Look for an auto-discovery function. This will scan the client’s network and reach all of the devices connected to it. This feature will really help you fine-tune contracts with clients.


The initial discovery should compile a device inventory that details the make and model of each device. That inventory should also show the CPU and memory capacity of each device and the data transfer capacity of each network interface.


The top RMMs also use the inventory data to automatically draw up a network topology map. That really helps to understand how the network fits together. The inventory and the map should also update automatically to reflect any changes in the network.


The presence of model details in the inventory should feed through to device configuration management functions and also helps you to set up configuration policies and automated patch management procedures by device type, manufacturers, and model. That information will also help to define provisioning assistance services to clients.


System preparedness


An RMM should help you to set up the client’s system so that it is hardened and prepared for disaster. The tool should have backup and archiving controls to enable you to cover for disaster. Not all services include the storage space for those backups, but automated procedures to periodically transfer data and restore it on command should be built in.


It helps to work on a disaster recovery plan with your clients and your RMM should support that requirements definition process.


The RMM also needs to be able to backup configuration images and restore them if unauthorized or accidental changes occur.


System cleaning and maintenance


Other functions you need to see in an RMM are facilities to enable you to perform preventative maintenance. Being able to schedule maintenance tasks to happen automatically means that you can launch those cleanup procedures out of office hours without having to sit up all night.


The types of tasks that the RMM should be able to implement include shutdown and reboot procedures, disk defragmentation, and the removal of temporary files and orphan processes. Application maintenance is also important with facilities to delete browser histories and cookies.


Onboarding procedures


Getting a clear inventory of the equipment on a new client site is essential and the autodiscovery feature of the best RMMs takes care of that. You are also going to need to assemble an inventory of the software licenses that the client owns and then track down all current installations.


Your clients are going to have staff turnover and they are going to retire and replace equipment. So, your RMM tool should have specialist policy-setting procedures to speed onboarding. If the RMM has the facilities to allow the administrator to created user roles, you can set up standard software profiles for endpoints by group. That makes onboarding new endpoints a lot easier.


Agreeing standard configurations for each device type and storing an image of the authorized set ups should enable you to roll out that configuration to all devices. Your RMM should be able to manage all of these tasks through automation.


Patch management functions


A good RMM suite integrates patch management into its constant monitoring. The patch manager needs to reap the statuses of all software and operating systems and keep tracking the availability of patches from the vendors of those systems.


A patch manager needs to give the administrator the choice between rolling out patches manually or automatically. A nice feature to see in an RMM’s patch manager is a list of available patches, which can be OK’d or put on hold. Patch rollout needs to be performed on a schedule so that it can occur outside of office hours.


User support features


Help Desk features are important for MSPs, but most of the management of IT Help Desk lies within the remit of professional services automation (PSA) software. However, RMM software also has a role to play.


Remote Desktop software that is usually an element of RMM packages enables support technicians to control a remote user’s device to fix problems, but also to demonstrate solutions. As well as showing the user what the technician is doing, Remote Desktop software includes live communications channels.


Reporting and analytics


As with all system management software, RMM systems need to report on many different levels. Remote access makes clients nervous. You need to log access events to client systems to reassure you, customers, you also need to track the value of the work performed for support services.


Auditing functions are also important in RMM systems. You want to be able to prove the work done, to flow through to your billing system and you also need to be able to demonstrate that the security features of your system software kept all transactions safe.


You also need reports on system performance and analysis of capacity for ongoing provisioning. Statistics are usually shown live in the dashboard of RMM systems, but data should also be stored for analysis.


RMM software makes the work of MSPs a lot easier. Getting all of the necessary software to support clients from a distance in one suite is a time saver when setting up an MSP. The inclusion of reporting and auditing functions enables the MSP to track performance and present a professional image to clients.