Securing & Supporting Remote Team Members: A new RMM model.
What is RMM?
Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software is designed to allow for the remote monitoring and management of Information Technology (IT) systems. The encompassing tools help increase visibility over intentionally connected endpoints where remote actions are taken, and often begin to automate or enable activities. Reporting and alerting, coupled with integration into Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) solutions like ServiceNow and HelpDesk platforms help corporations successfully control, maintain, provision and deploy to a network.
The goal of most tools used by IT departments in and across the modern enterprise is to ensure that remotely connected IT assets are standardized, operating according to existing standards, and performing optimally. Better said -does the technology provisioned to the end user allow them to do the job they are tasked with doing? RMM tools that include features that ensure IT professionals can allocate tasks, automate maintenance jobs, and track issues seamlessly are increasing in popularity as we see a stampede of hybrid, work from home, and work from anywhere shifts.
The wrong systems, or lack of RMM systems that are in line with your business goals, can cause immediate friction and loss of user experience. With the right support, security, and remote monitoring, businesses can easily improve their network performance, network security and increase end user productivity. What is the purpose of a well performing PC that is not secure? It is only capable of infecting and compromising its peer group faster. This is to be avoided. We must endeavor to find solutions that weave SECURITY with RMM.
For a product to be included in the Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) category, the product needs to meet the following criteria.
- Ability to discover and track IT-related issues.
- Monitor IT assets such as applications, computers, and endpoints, servers, and devices.
- Provide access to remote administrators to access, assess, alert, automate, secure, and fix endpoints.
- Increase and monitor network performance, availability, and security.
- Learn over time, add value as the system learns.
- Work with technology standards and investments the organization has already made
New remote risks for enterprises
The need for enterprises to protect and monitor their remote devices is accelerating.
use personal devices to access company networks
use work emails and passwords to access consumer networks
most feared risk: cybercrime, IT failure, and data breaches
How Companies Benefit from a Solid + Secure RMM
There are many advantages of a solid + secure RMM, not the least of which is the amount of money it saves your company on expensive help desk calls. Simply said – the majority of the time wasted based on internal interviews with Enterprise Sysadmins around the world – is troubleshooting. Finding the needle in the haystack of Computer Systems can be slow, difficult, and expensive. Getting it wrong even more so. Root cause analysis, predictive analytics, and automation are the core tenants of a solid RMM. Security needs to also be a first class citizen. Not only must the platform itself inherent and adhere to industry best practices and standards, the function of the solution must also.
First, can your RMM assess the security posture of each and every user, device, and server on the network? Remember how much larger and more porous the network now is. The configuration, usage patterns, location, and role based access all go into a knowable security posture or stance. Now that you have visibility into missing updates, patches, antivirus routines, can your RMM automatically take action in those platforms without user interaction?
Additionally, a good RMM solution alerts your IT support staff to any potential issues before they turn into a full-blown crisis. Not only that, a powerful new domain is the ability to take alerts and trigger actions based on them. For example, should a user login from a certain location try to access a certain type of data or share something sensitive or risky, the system can take action proactively without the human intervention of a sysadmin.
When businesses use RMMs in-house, they can avert system failure and also reduce the size of your IT support staff team. In fact what we typically see is automating the mundane allows the IT staff to focus on higher priority projects in essence allowing all of us to do more with less. Just to size up the costs associated with these issues, it’s estimated that the average employee wastes something like 22 minutes each day on IT issues, and that’s in addition to daily responsibilities. There are certain realities like systems or applications failing forgotten passwords and inconsistent networks and our goal should be to design around them when possible remediate when we can
RMMs are a great way to reduce the time it takes to remediate tickets by 50-70% - Especially in the new distributed environment we find ourselves in these days where distance in proximity works against us. Some of the more progressive companies we speak with share that efficiencies and response times have been hyper optimized as they've begun to use cloud solutions specifically Microsoft Azure.
How Is RMM Software Used?
There are a variety of key capabilities associated with RMM software. However, there are three core jobs that RMM solutions are used for in our opinion:
Behind-the-scenes remote maintenance & remediation.
RMM software supports technicians in managing updates, running scripts, and deploying software while providing remote connections for machines to allow for troubleshooting without end-user interruption.
IT Management Automation.
RMM software solutions crack open access to streamline workflows and automate countless IT tasks, whether that’s running scripts, responding to tickets, or installing patches, all of it can be done through RMM.
Remote Monitoring & Alerts.
With RMM solutions, companies can enjoy 24/7 monitoring for the health and performance of individual systems and entire networks. IT professionals can enjoy ongoing monitoring of disruptive issues, have automated workflows that help address alerts, and have reports generated that offer clear visibility into every aspect of your network. Additionally, RMMs are used to deploy and actively manage endpoint security for third parties and security products.
How RMMs Built on Microsoft Azure Are A Value Add
Microsoft is the absolute gold standard within the modern enterprise. The time, energy and effort together with investments in people and process most organizations have made around Microsoft and specifically now their cloud solution Azure is quite remarkable. For this reason we felt it critical to build our platform on Azure to augment and extend these investments as well as providing a globally available fabric to secure and support the largest agencies organizations and enterprises around the world.
The workflows routines integration and API access for an RMM solution on Azure is almost boundless, and allows organizations to imagine solutions versus being constrained in boxes. With the countless Windows laptops and desktops servers out there, especially in a business setting, it’s critical that your RMM is secure, which is where Azure can also add immense value. Modern systems build upon the solutions and complexity of past solutions simplifying their function via API and RMM should be no exception
The Truth About Azure & RMM
You might be wondering what makes RMM on Azure more powerful than its standalone counterpart. Enterprises, Agencies, and Organizations throughout the world have continually invested in the products, people, and processes that Microsoft solidified as the standard. There are significant challenges associated with managing massive end-user populations that always become more prominent when change is present.
But it’s also safe to say that we cannot read the future, it’s fairly safe to say that change is at its peak right now, causing opportunity and friction like never before. Fortunately, teams and companies that have leveraged Microsoft Azure services such as Teams, PowerBI, Sharepoint, and Office 365 have experienced a great deal of increased productivity.
For large companies, basic needs must be met including safety, security, seamless adoption by your team, simplified billing, and cost exposure are critical.
So, what are the most prominent elements available on Azure?
- Azure AD—Cloud-native MS Directory Services that are Secure.
- Instant Scale—Azure is available throughout the world.
- MS Graph API—Enjoy easy integration with all other existing MS services
- Ease of Deployment—Simply right-clicks to deploy to up to 100,000 users.
- Easier Billing Solutions
- Scale Economy –Zero upfront capital costs for hardware—simply pay as you go.
- Roadmap Visibility thanks to their closeness to the future of Microsoft & Windows
- Enterprise Adoption
- Accelerated growth and closure of MS business
- Improved Admin Experience with Azure Services
- Easier Azure Active Directory Integration, Context within Organization & Deeper User
- Office 365 Integration
- Increased Performance
- Daily Morning Health Check in Device Configuration
- Office 365 OneDrive whole disk backup
- Microsoft Graph API (Viva, Glint)
Common Functionality of RMMs
Monitoring in Real-Time & Alerts
Users should never have to deal with breakdowns or downtime. While often challenging end users are the lifeblood of our organization either contributing directly to revenue or working to manage the costs in delivering that revenue to the business. The model changes slightly as the size of the organization shifts. MSPs remotely supporting the infrastructure on a remote client site should have complete knowledge of potential problems long before any issue stop’s the functionality of the business For those smaller companies. Channel partners and value added resellers (VARS) together with system integrators tend to work with medium size and small enterprise organizations on integrating on Prem and cloud resources. One interesting phenomenon in the enterprise market is that while a great deal of attention is paid to the challenges remote workers are facing, very little is spent talking about the monitoring and alerting challenges of sysadmins. We envision an entirely new system or fabric that is always on, always aware, always ready to report an alert and yet most importantly always available to take action and automate the mundane. Taming scale.
The best part of using this feature is that the awful cycle of break/fix models is tossed out and replaced with a system that fights off problems before they become disasters. This also frees up resources to save money and attracts new opportunities to create and consume content on the part of our end users instead of trying to manage their own security or storage or application lifecycles
Scripting & IT Automation
Another benefit is scripting and overall IT Automation. Automation is a great way to free up time and resources for routine maintenance tasks, giving your IT team more opportunities to focus on more complicated jobs. PowerShell along with some other solutions have become increasingly popular for it pros enterprise mobility experts and MVPs everywhere. These automated tasks include:
- Internet History Deletion
- Reboots + Shutdowns
- Temp Files Deletion
- System Restore Points
- AntiVirus Live Config
- Running Scripts + Powershell Commandlets
- Run Checkdisk, backups, etc
Scripting, too, is critical. A script execution module that makes automation flexible can be critical in the enterprise when multiple teams are working and collaborating across regions looking for similar solutions to similar problems period. A focus on PowerShell is a powerful benefit to the modern enterprise that has selected windows along with other operating systems for their end users. modern RMM solutions should support scripts written in multiple types of formats including CMD files, PowerShell scripts, Bash files, and MSI, as well as remain open an flexible for new data formats like XML and Json Any library that includes pre-written scripts is a green flag for properly developed RMMs. In some cases, software houses encourage user communities to share their scripts. while this can have security implications that will be the subject of a follow on article libraries and repositories clearly have their place.
Automation features associated with high-quality RMM monitoring software reduce your staff’s needs. These cost savings are a critical element to MSP support software advantages.
Analytics & Reporting
RMM’s do more than monitor your business. They also include reporting options that help you achieve your data-driven goals for all your IT support activities. Reports are available and can be run through a scheduling system. You can also set reports to be delivered via email, this prevents technicians from having to distribute information. Most reports include:
- Agent health
- Specific customer health
- Overall System health summaries
- Patch and automation feedback
- Software inventory
- Microsoft licensing
- System inventory audit
Keeping up to date with regular reports empowers you to easily track activities while accessing supporting documents for billing needs & also feedback for task completion.
With companies and organizations making significant investments in and across Microsoft technologies, solutions like Microsoft powerBI play a significant role in visualizing data across the business. Simple alerts telemetry and reporting take on additional dimensions where data can be manipulated and what if scenario building can be modeled truly enabling organizations to consume not simply observe their data and metrics
Patch Management Functionality
A patch manager module empowers you to shut down operating system and software exploits through automating patch management. Ideally, you should be able to select when updates are installed and opt for minimum disruption. After you’ve installed the update, you can trust your roll to your RMM. Your system should be able to:
- Run Windows Update
- Install driver updates
- Install Microsoft Office updates
- Install Java updates
- Exclude patches
- Install Adobe updates
- Reboot if needed
In addition, a solid RMM should have a display patch run status while logging all actions, allowing your technicians to check the existing status on software.
As modern organizations, agencies and enterprises begin to adopt solutions like Microsoft intune and Microsoft endpoint manager on a larger scale we believe it is important for any RMM solution to work directly with them via API and in an enterprise grade way. This includes solutions like Azure Active Directory where security access and optimization all stem from as a standard user directory.
Reliable Device Management & Monitoring
An RMM tool typically includes two elements. The first is the management console. This allows technicians to access RMM functions. The second is called an “agent”. This gets installed on the client’s device and enables technicians to directly access remote equipment.
When the agent scans equipment for any status change, it reports back to the central monitoring console via the network or internet. Because it takes a proactive approach, RMM agents allow the system administrator to spot service level issues long before they have a negative effect on performance. Instead of waiting on the alarm to be raised, the MSP staff can act right away. Smart agents are now capable of doing smart things. First and foremost, aside from sharing relevant configuration, security, and usage metrics – the agent can take actions – either automated, scheduled, remote controlled, or otherwise triggered.
The convenience of easy access for remote agents enables central and now truly remote technicians to easily access on-site equipment for easier fixing, reconfiguration, system installs, and updates for client software. Performed either by individual devices or implemented overall, this makes for an easier process across the board. The next few years should provide a wonderful event horizon for organizations to optimize processes and begin consuming new solutions that enable their users to be secure and supported at a distance.
Benefits You Can Expect from RMM Software
There are and always have been legacy ways to fix unreliable computer systems even those that are separated from the primary campus at a distance. What truly is important these days is finding a platform and solution that integrates the investments and standards you have made for example around Microsoft and Azure with the needs of your remote users. With the proper due diligence into the needs of your organization it's highly likely RMM software might offer your IT department a unique way to transform their operations, making them more efficient, effective, and even profitable. Here are a few other benefits of using RMM software.
IT Management In a Single Control Panel
Integrations with endpoint backup, security, ITSM, Help Desk, PSA, and even other software solutions make it easy for RMM dashboards to serve as your central focal point. It also reduces the number of screen techs and admins that go back and forth to solve problems.
With the prolific adoption and consumption of cloud based solutions like zoom ServiceNow slack Microsoft Teams Microsoft Office and Microsoft OneDrive we believe a single control panel makes a tremendous amount of sense for sysadmins managing users at a distance. Additionally in the mission to secure and support those end users security antivirus malware and configuration control must be at the admin's fingertips as well
As we often say you cannot manage what you cannot measure however the good news is with telemetry data and sensors everywhere there never has been more information to process. For this reason taking data streams from both end user location configuration machine type and usage patterns together with consumption of cloud based resources like Office 365 begin to paint a complete picture of the digital day for the end user. It is by and through this level of visibility that we can begin to make smarter decisions. I'm not only the technology we provisioned to and users but also how we secure and support them.
While monitoring and alerts are key to visibility taking actionable measures based on triggers or observation is the new frontier
Streamlining and automating workflows allows techs to be more valuable to your team by reducing the number of time-consuming manual tasks required of them. This frees up their time to support users and endpoints!
Our theory has always been in a large organization if common problems are observed with common solutions satisfying them these should be logically incorporated into the workflows and tools available to admins moving. We are interested in always and at all times in allowing technology to be a differentiator, an enabler versus a burden on the company. we believe that not only will individual improvements manifest themselves in anna cross most organizations there will also be a great degree of learning and collaboration from multi tenant environments that will be explored in the coming years
Eliminates Reactive Support—Replacing it with Proactive Support
RMM software empowers service providers to get out of the death cycle of continually putting out fires and enables them to get ahead of potential issues. This, in turn, can help individuals avoid downtime and disruption while increasing their revenue, while pushing down costs.
All too often modern IT department's are in neverending fire drill mode the hope is that now by engaging in security and configuration assessments a large part of the triage work of the helpdesk is now automated away and when truly specific issues are observed can be immediately fixed no matter where the user or admin or machine or service is.
How RMM Benefits Large Enterprise Companies
Large companies need larger solutions. Building your own solutions can lead to financial, productivity, and security risks that simply aren’t sustainable. Network Operating Center (NOC) is the command center for data center and campus control, but the tides are changing. No longer do we solve things from a singular location and distribute them to end-users. RMM is transforming this process for larger companies.
In speaking with the largest companies across the world over the past year it became very clear that what we used to solve with our most brilliant minds in and across our primary headquarters now needs to be extended across unstable unreliable and often insecure networks. An entirely new category of cloud centric distributed device and user aware solutions where security is not an afterthought but a core provisioning principle are needed
RemotelyRMM is purpose built for the modern Enterprise.
Assessing RMM Software for 2022
The needs and priorities of your company determine whether or not RMM is right for you, and right for you at this time. While reliability and performance can vary greatly from one RMM to the next, the majority of legacy solutions sadly have the same core features.
For example, one tool may do well in certain areas like say for example screen sharing or remote instrument, it may not do so well in others like automation patching or security. Look for solutions that give you the visibility and control you believe you need given your unique remote or distributed team member challenges
We have covered the product features available with most RMMs, but it is also important to discuss areas such as product stability, customer support, and ease of use, cost, and security response time and value, among others.
Simplicity of Setup
Another area that varies greatly is the setup process for RMMs. Some RMMs require extensive training and fees to properly set up and begin using intelligently. You might be surprised to find out that there is an entire ecosystem of implementation consultants available to address legacy RMM options - many of whom would be the first to admit that the move forward has to be cloud first. It's our sincere belief that any modern rmm purpose built for the enterprise needs to take ease of onboarding and ability to get day one value out of the platform seriously. For this reason the primary deployment model for our platform is through Microsoft Azure marketplace making provisioning configuration and time to value rapid and friction free
Reliability & Stability
We likely don’t have to tell you this, but any downtime can lead to extremely disruptive and detrimental outcomes. Not only are the majority of our jobs directly related to finding solutions and delivering successful outcomes, the thing that stands in our way or is a headwind costs us time. RMMs are the central management portal and should work seamlessly With the tools we already know and love the way our users like to work when they like to work, how they like to work and where they like to work as well as the back end standards we have chosen and built entire businesses around like Microsoft.
If you value responsive, knowledgeable, and responsive support, factor that into your list of features for your RMM. If you are in the primary business of supporting your end users, make sure your RMM vendor takes its responsibility to be available for you 24/7 365 very seriously. The availability, access and uptime of the platform should be taken into account as well as feedback in forums, wikis, social media etc. There are two things you should never be too frugal on, one is toilet paper and the second is customer support :)
Ongoing Administrative Needs
Managing your software is just as important as the licensing fee. The time, expertise, and effort it takes to manage it are equally important. instead of requiring organizations to make large upfront capital costs we decided the first administrative need is to pay as you go. Upfront investments in time personnel and training work against the primary mission of keeping admins budgets and users productive
Taking a step back and beginning to think about how to re-architect the new normal and remote distributed team member can seem a bit daunting. However the chaos quickly quiet when you realize you can now assess secure and support your end users no matter how large the fleet is from one central location in the cloud nested among the core solutions and standards your company already has made
Create new opportunities and innovation and enjoy better performance and outcomes for your end users your staff and your budgets worldwide.
Remotely is a modern enterprise grade remote monitoring, management & security platform built in Azure that provides an all-in-one tool set built to enable frontline SysAdmin superheros.
By simplifying and automating the day-to-day work of IT professionals, they can spend more time focused on complex, value-added services, end-user relationships, and strategic projects.
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