Let’s face it, those of us who are still playing the “line-item” game with invoices are playing in a commoditized area and are probably complaining about thin margins. The game has changed, and if you’re charging extra for each item you add, you probably didn’t do a good enough job selling, and you’re prone to be shopped elsewhere.
So how does this apply to providing remote control/remote access to clients? Simply put, you should be doing this by default, already baking in the cost, and using a brandable solution from the beginning. The best RMMs are now including the ability to extend remote control to clients via their tools. Also, the option remains to use a VPN or Remote Desktop Gateway to grant remote access via RDP. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each and how to go about selecting the right items for your client offering.
Extending Remote Control
Using the tools already provided within your RMM for doing remote control can be beneficial when the client wants to have that “On Desktop” functionality. An additional benefit is when the client is training other employees and would like to see what is on their screen. This is particularly useful in larger or distributed organizations. Another key is that it is usually available on Macs and PCs under the same tool.
Alternatively, setting up some of these solutions can be cumbersome, and there is a great chance of dual-authentication (inconvenient for the end-user). Once to the remote-control tool and a second time to the desktop. Also, this could tie up a remote control license for you, depending on how your RMM tool works with this.
Enabling Remote Desktop
This is our de-facto go to for granting clients remote access to their systems. The reasons for us are simple, for the majority of use cases it is:
- Broadly understood by clients
- Authentication is simple
- Securing it with a VPN is easy
- Supporting it across devices is simple and predictable
Downsides, however, include the added complexity of a VPN (unless using a Remote Desktop Gateway), printing challenges (if you’ve set up RDP, you know what I’m talking about), it is wholly unsuitable for training or supporting employees, and limited multi-monitor support depending on the Windows Edition.
Which One Do I Use?
I dropped a hint earlier – it depends. You have to look at the use case carefully, consider end-user sophistication and experience, look at the big picture, and then choose. A word of warning, though, you’re running an MSP – so consistency inside your own office is essential. Don’t make it a case by case decision if you can, take a client-based approach for flexibility. Reserve exceptions for use cases but hold to the standard as much as possible so your team can support it. Finally, DOCUMENT IT! Nothing will make a client more frustrated than being unable to receive support because your techs don’t know which remote solution is in use.
There are more options for remote control/access to client systems available– one of which is a Remote Desktop server, but the bottom line here is to be consistent, flexible, documented, and client-focused when selecting the right solution.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.