It’s pretty common for managed services providers (MSPs) to feel like they have to be two places at one time to keep up with their clients’ demands. The good news is you can. Remote access/remote control solutions allow you to take control of a user’s computer to transfer files, install new applications, and troubleshoot problems — just as if you were sitting at the user’s desk. Your technical team can assist multiple users at one time, without ever leaving your office.
Remote control solutions enable you to provide immediate service in a cost-effective manner, which can add up to greater profitably. Remote control/remote access solutions can also be a valuable tool when you train clients to use new software or acclimate a new employee to a client’s system.
There is a wide variety of remote access/remote control solutions available, including both cloud and on-premises systems. Some are built into remote monitoring and management tools, and some are standalone solutions. Different remote control solutions also offer various integration options.
But with so many choices, you may need some guidance finding the best remote control solution to suit your needs. To help, we’ve invited 4 RMM providers to share information about how they include remote access/remote control solutions in their products. Companies that provided information are:
- Atera: Splashtop built into Atera
- ConnectWise: ConnectWise Control
- Datto: Datto RMM integrated VNC, RDP, or Splashtop tools.
- SolarWinds MSP: SolarWinds Take Control
In the coming months, we’ll be looking at additional and standalone remote control solutions from vendors that didn’t make the deadline for this edition of the comparison.
Note: XaaS Journal product comparisons aren’t about rating products or choosing “the best.” And they aren’t paid listings that some websites publish. Our objective, as always, is to provide MSPs with unbiased resources to help them make the best decisions for their businesses.
We also recognize that each business is unique, so a single remote access/remote control solution may not be the best choice for every managed services provider. We’ve organized information on each product by feature so it will be easier for you to compare and contrast those that are the most important to your MSP.
For more details provided by the vendors, download our “Overview of Remote Control/Remote Access Software” spreadsheet.
Because you are connecting with your clients remotely, security is a vital feature of remote control/remote access solutions. Here’s an overview of the security features of each product in our comparison:
Connection to cloud-based Atera is via SSL/TLS cryptographic protocols, using global step-up certificates, ensures that users have a secure connection from their browsers to the service. Individual user sessions are identified and verified with each transaction, using a unique token created at login.
All traffic is automatically encrypted with AES-256 block encryption and RSA provided by the Microsoft RSA/Schannel Cryptographic Provider. These particular implementations of the AES-256 and RSA algorithms have been designated as FIPS-compliant for ConnectWise Control servers on Windows. Cloud instances are automatically secured with an SSL certificate and enabled with an HTTP-to-HTTPS redirect. ConnectWise Control also features role-based permissions, auditing, video or “extended auditing,” and two-factor authentication.
Sessions are encrypted from agent to server over HTTPS using TLS 1.0/1.1/1.2. In addition, custom security profiles with granular security controls enable or disable the use of specific remote access functionality. You can restrict access to the entire account, site location, or specific devices. Every remote action and command that is executed via Datto RMM is logged and timestamped in a non-editable history log.
SolarWinds Take Control:
Take Control supports FIPS (140-2)- certified Open SSL modules, Elliptic-cure Diffie Hellman key agreement encryption, and AES-256 and TLS encryption for data security in transit and at rest. SolarWinds Take Control also features an ISO 27001-compliant global server infrastructure, multifactor authentication, and a proprietary “double secured” Secrets Vaults feature. Granular permission and access levels can be set by a technician or customer, and all sessions can be recorded and accessed for auditing. Take Control also supports GDPR and HIPAA compliance.
Remote control/remote access reporting gives you a record of remote sessions and the work that technicians completed, which you can use for invoicing or monthly or quarterly business reviews with your clients. Reporting features of remote control solutions also give you greater visibility into your technicians’ productivity.
Each of the remote access/remote control solutions in our comparison provides their MSP users with reporting capabilities:
Atera offers both standard reporting with intuitive design as well as custom reporting options.
ConnectWise Control lets you review reports based on both sessions and connections, including information on who is accessing machines and the type of activities performed.
Datto RMM reports all remote user activity, including time spent connected and job performed.
SolarWinds Take Control:
Take Control features continuously updated dashboards that monitor current sessions and technician performance. Standard reports include session history, missed sessions, technician performance, session reports, audits, scripts run, customer feedback survey reports, and deferred requests.
We gave each vendor the opportunity to share the unique value its product offers MSPs. Their responses follow:
“Splashtop is built-in with Atera, an all-in-one solution. It’s the only product that has a single code base and a single database for RMM, PSA, and remote access.”
“ConnectWise Control offers lightning-fast and secure remote access.
- Security: Best-in-class security features with granular permissions and user management. ConnectWise Control ships with single sign-on capability, two-factor authentication, AES-256 block encryption, brute force prevention, SSL cert, and more. Our role-based security architecture allows administrators to assign permissions for each user role at a granular level.
- Extension Marketplace: With more than 100 integrations and extensions in the Extension Marketplace, ConnectWise Control empowers you to work in the most efficient way possible. We integrate with popular tools like Freshdesk, Freshservice, Passportal, Zendesk, Outlook and more. We’re also fully integrated into ConnectWise Manage and Automate.
- Configurable: Just about every option on the host page, host client, and guest client can be fully configured and customized. From allowing auto consent by session type down to the number of characters returned for commands.
- Compatibility: ConnectWise Control is compatible with Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS and Linux/Unix/*nix operating systems and nearly every major browser. Support your clients’ Android and iOS devices or use your own Android or iOS mobile device to provide support on the run.
- Customizable: White label ConnectWise Control with hundreds of appearance options. Personalize the Guest page and client with your business’s logo, brand colors, and more. Build trust with your clients by keeping your brand front and center.”
“Datto RMM is a full-featured remote monitoring and management platform capable of offering robust remote support, but also policy-driven device management in a non-intrusive or disruptive manager. Being a 100% cloud-based solution, we have unrivaled scalability and security that are not possible with self-hosted solutions.”
SolarWinds Take Control:
“Take Control provides a full-featured solution for IT providers and MSPs of any size with two solutions. Specifically, Take Control excels in:
- Connection speed
- Security for both products
- Visibility into organization operations via great dashboards and reports
- A powerful set of tools for technicians to resolve issues quickly”
Vendors also highlighted their products newest features and what to watch for in the coming months:
“We have recently moved to Microsoft Azure Service Fabric infrastructure, a platform designed to facilitate the development and management of highly scalable and customizable applications. We’re always upgrading our technology through R&D, and by leveraging big data methodologies. You can expect major, industry-leading features added to the Atera platform in 2019.”
“Recent updates include:
- ConnectWise View: Guides clients or junior technicians through onsite issues using the camera of the end user’s mobile device. This is a new product that the ConnectWise Control team developed and is fully integrated into ConnectWise Control.
- Backstage: Hosts can run scripts and commands using fully-featured Powershell and Windows command terminal windows without disturbing a user that may be working on the machine.
- iOS screen sharing: Provides attended support to iOS mobile devices with the new iOS screen sharing feature — it lets you see the screen of an iOS device.
- Redesigned host client: Modernizes the look and feel of the host client, streamlines menus, and makes the host client more intuitive.”
“Datto RMM is committed to heavily investing in constant and rapid development of new features across the entire platform. Users can expect to see meaningful updates to the platform on a monthly basis that improve usability, enhance the user experience, streamline workflows and optimize performance.”
SolarWinds Take Control:
“We have several major new features and product variations coming out in 2019.”
Just as the delivery and features of a remote access/remote control solution can vary from product to product, you’ll find that pricing structures also differ, giving MSPs options to suit a wide range of budgets. Pricing information for the products in our comparison includes:
Atera offers three different packages to its users; RMM, PSA and remote access with unlimited devices are available with each. Atera charges per technician, and you can have unlimited devices and agents. Pricing per technician starts at $79 per month. There are no minimums and no contracts.
ConnectWise Control has tiered packages that include on-demand support sessions, meeting capabilities, and unattended access. The features and number of sessions available are based on the license package. Licenses are based on concurrent technicians, for example, if you have five technicians but only two will be working at a time, you can purchase two licenses and still have user accounts and permissions for all five users. ConnectWise Control also offers Access-Only licensing, priced per unattended access agent or endpoint, with unlimited concurrent sessions and technicians.
ConnectWise Sell also offers a free license for personal use. The minimum commitment for a paid license is $19/month (paid annually) for one user to make one connection.
Datto RMM subscription pricing is per device/per month. Remote Access Service is part of a comprehensive toolset. The minimum commitment for a partner is 50 devices, two-year minimum.
SolarWinds Take Control:
Solar Winds MSP offers two products: Take Control and Take Control Plus. Both are sold per license, and each license supports one concurrent technician user at a time. Each technician user can be running as many simultaneous remote sessions as they like. Both products are available on a month-to-month basis or annually.
Along with the other automation tools available to MSPs, the greatest ROI from investing in a remote access/remote control solution will most likely be time savings. Remote control solutions allow you to eliminate much of the time your technicians can spend traveling to clients’ locations, enabling them to provide service to more customers. Remote control allows you to do more with fewer employees — and to keep customers satisfied with prompt attention and to their problems.
Have you seen positive results from implementing a remote control solution in your MSP operation? We’d like to share stories of how using automation tools have helped MSPs operate more efficiently and profitably. And if you’d like additional information on remote access/remote control solutions, let us know. We welcome your feedback.