Remote monitoring and management (RMM), also known as network management or remote monitoring software, is a type of software designed to help managed IT service providers (MSPs) remotely and proactively monitor client endpoints, networks and computers. This is also now known as or referred to as remote IT management.
To deploy RMM, a small software footprint often called an “agent” is installed on client workstations, servers, mobile devices, and other endpoints. These agents then feed information about machine health and status back to the MSP. This gives the MSP insight into client networks, provides the ability to keep machines maintained and up-to-date, and proactively stay ahead of issues and resolve them remotely – without the need to go out to a client’s office.
When one of these agents detects a problem on the machine it’s monitoring, an alert (or “ticket”) is created and sent to the MSP, prompting them to take whatever action is needed to resolve the problem. These tickets are often classified based on severity, problem type, etc., helping the MSP prioritize and identify critical vs. non-critical issues. In best case scenarios, MSPs are able to identify and solve issues before the client even realizes there’s a problem.
RMM technology gives IT service providers the ability to manage more clients than traditional break/fix IT providers, and to do so more efficiently. Through RMM, technicians can remotely install software and updates, administer patches, and more – and this can often all be done from a single, unified dashboard. Technicians can administer tasks simultaneously to many computers at once, and no longer have to travel from office to office to handle routine maintenance.
Computers were developed in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the first standard network management tools were used widespread in conjunction with the first Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Up until this point, on-site servicing was required using a break-fix model – when something went wrong, the clients would call their IT technician to physically go to the server or computer to troubleshoot the problem. As this process continued, support technicians developed procedures to proactively visit clients’ onsite environments to check the health and status of IT running on the network. They usually used elaborate checklists to record information about machine and disk usage. Unfortunately, this still did not give IT the complete picture of ongoing health and status of the network.
The first managed IT solution tools used with SNMP could feed information back to the IT technician, but these were complex systems that were difficult to manage, and could only be afforded by huge companies with huge networks. And many MSPs sunk small fortunes into developing their own service delivery platforms with their own infrastructure and network operations center (NOC). Venturing into managed IT services was cost-prohibitive for both small businesses and the MSP.
In 2005, systems began to mature, allowing smaller companies to take advantage of the same type of managed services that Fortune 500 companies had access to. RMM technology and expert staff could now be leveraged by the MSP to service the small and medium size business (SMB) market. Thus began the managed services movement as we know it today.
MSPs today are largely pricing RMM services using a flat-rate, monthly recurring revenue model. Pricing is usually based on the number of devices and services included, with tiered packages priced at graduated levels. A la carte pricing for additional services allows customers to choose specific offerings that work best for them. For instance, on-site customer support may be offered as an extra fee.
MSPs must also determine whether to employ a “per-device” or “per-user” pricing structure, which charges clients a fixed price for managed services based on either the number of devices or the number of users in a given environment. Both approaches have their own respective pros and cons.
Modern managed IT services and RMM software continue to shape the technology side of today’s SMB market. SMBs increasingly need IT to keep the wheels turning, and to compete with larger organizations. To ensure long-term growth potential and opportunity to scale, MSPs today should consider: