Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is a core function of any managed services business. By leveraging this powerful automation tool, IT solution providers can efficiently and remotely monitor and manage their customers’ IT assets. Thanks to the intelligence of the software, you can proactively attend to many customers and receive alerts if, or even before, problems arise.
There are many RMM platforms to choose from today. In an attempt to give you a jump start in your evaluation, DevPro Journal rounded up a handful of the most popular products:
- Barracuda Managed Workplace RMM
- VSA by Kaseya
- Continuum RMM
- ConnectWise Automate
As with our other comparisons, we won’t be selecting a “best” product or “editor’s choice.” There’s no way we could pick one product that fits the needs of all our readers. Rather, we’ve broken the data down by key attributes to make it easier for you to compare and contrast the features and aspects most important to your business. Additionally, we have made a spreadsheet available that contains more details and information than would fit in this article.
SaaS vs. On-Prem Delivery?
All of the solutions in this comparison are available via a SaaS model. There are, of course, instances when you’d prefer, or are required, to have your software running on-premises. Dedicated IT infrastructure, security, and administration costs aside, on-prem still has its place. Barracuda, ConnectWise, and VSA by Kaseya are your only solutions with available on-prem versions among the products in this comparison. Vigilix reports that while the platform is offered as a service, the company is willing to discuss on-prem under special circumstances with enterprise level customers.
Agents vs. Agentless
To monitor your customers with an RMM tool, you’ll need to somehow “connect” to the devices/services to see what they’re up to. There are two methods of establishing the monitoring — agents and agentless. There are pros and cons to each.
Agents are software provided by the RMM tool that create the connection between the RMM tool and the objects being monitored. Agents must be installed. They are more secure than agentless implementations, typically use less bandwidth, and can provide more comprehensive monitoring.
Agentless setups can be configured without additional software, making it easy to get up and running quickly. They rely on functionality that already exists in the objects being monitored to share information about the device/service status. Unfortunately, this also limits their capabilities.
All the RMM products in this comparison offer agent-based monitoring. Additionally, Barracuda, ConnectWise, VSA by Kaseya, and NinjaRMM offer agentless capabilities, providing extended monitoring functionality that might be desired in some circumstances.
Supported Operating Systems
Today, customers in all markets have shown an increasing interest in Macs. While Microsoft still holds most of the market share, the fact remains that Mac devices on the network must be accounted for. Also, most networks are now loaded with mobile devices as well, whether supplied by the company or “bring your own.” The result is a need to monitor many different devices.
NinjaRMM is the only RMM platform in this comparison that doesn’t support the monitoring of smartphones/tablet devices. ConnectWise supports mobile device management through an integration with IBM MaaS360 while Avast relies on an integration with Centrify.
Concerning MacOS, all the RMM products except for Vigilix, which is built specifically for retail and restaurant IT environments, can monitor Mac devices.
A must-have for any serious MSP, a PSA (professional services automation) tool allows you to centrally manage your customers, including functionality such as CRM, ticketing, billing, and reporting. Due to the critical nature of a PSA, it’s equally critical that your RMM platform and PSA are tightly integrated, allowing for a complete exchange of information in real-time.
With the many acquisitions that have taken place within the IT services world, it’s possible to find many instances where the RMM provider also offers a PSA option. For example, ConnectWise has an integration with its own ConnectWise Manage product. It also has an integration to Autotask.
VSA by Kaseya is similar. It has an integration with the company’s own Kaseya BMS (business management system), but can also work with Autotask, ConnectWise Manage, and Tigerpaw.
Avast has integrations with Autotask, ConnectWise, Tigerpaw, Salesforce, and many more. The company shares that if there is a third-party PSA solution that has been developed in-house or currently not supported by Managed Workplace, Avast Business will provide an API to allow development teams to integrate it into the RMM.
Atera is unique in that it was built from the ground up as an all-in-one solution that contains RMM, PSA, and remote access from a single code base.
Continuum has integrations with Accelo, Autotask, CommitCRM, Computicate, ConnectWise, Kaseya BMS, Promys, Tigerpaw, and Vorek.
NinjaRMM has integrations with Accelo, Autotask, Computicate, ConnectWise, Promys, and RepairShopr.
Vigilix has integrations with Autotask, ConnectWise, and Tigerpaw, among others.
Recognizing the value a third-party NOC (network operation center) can provide, such as offloading mundane and repetitive monitoring tasks, some RMM providers include the service as an option.
For example, Barracuda, ConnectWise, Continuum, Kaseya, and NinjaRMM all offer NOC services. Avast, ConnectWise, and NinjaRMM rely on third-parties (IT by Design and Live Virtual Helpdesk, respectively) for the service. Both Continuum and VSA by Kaseya have their own NOC services. Pricing varies.
Pricing and Commitments
We asked each vendor to share details of their pricing models. Here are the results:
Atera: With Atera, you only pay per technician. You can have unlimited devices and agents. Pricing per technician starts at $79 per month for RMM, PSA, and remote access. There is no commitment and no contract.
Barracuda Managed Workplace RMM: Managed Workplace is priced based on the device type (workstations and servers). The company has additional integrated services that are available such as Antivirus, Backup and Disaster Recovery, NOC, and Help Desk.
ConnectWise Automate: ConnectWise Automate’s MSRP is a tiered agent-based pricing that is $1 to $6 per agent, depending on discounts for volume and commitment terms. Automate’s biggest pricing differentiator is that a workstation agent is priced the same as a server agent. There is no difference in pricing between servers and non-servers. Additionally, Automate doesn’t charge for agentless functionality, such as virtualized hardware and network devices. There is no minimum spend requirement for Cloud. There is a 100-agent minimum for the on-prem version of the software.
Continuum: For Server Care, price is by endpoint per month and available at either Essential or Elite service tiers (additional volume discount are also available).
For Desktop Care, price is by endpoint per month (additional volume discount are also available). For the addition of Help Desk, the price is determined by endpoint and service hours requirements. Help Desk is only available to Elite Server Care partners.
For Network Care, the cost is determined by active device licenses with a tiering of price by quantity per month.
For Mobile Care, the price is per device per month with optional add-ons also available based on mobile management needs and security requirements.
The minimum investment is $250 monthly and an annual commitment.
It should be noted that Continuum also bundles in LogMeIn remote access and Webroot endpoint protection. Those cost savings could either be passed onto your customers or contribute to your profitability.
VSA by Kaseya: Pricing is not published publicly, however there are no minimum commitments.
NinjaRMM: Pricing is per device, month-to-month. There are no contracts, however, there is a minimum commitment of 50 devices.
Vigilix: Pricing is subscription-based, by device or by location licensing/pricing. There is a minimum commitment of $100 a month.
“What’s your competitive advantage?”
With so many baked in features and functions, we asked each vendor to share what makes their product stand apart from the competition. Here are their responses:
Atera: “The all-in-one Atera platform is born-in-the-cloud, affordable, easy to use, and does not require a contract. Atera’s unique IoT architecture, combined with big data algorithms in the cloud, enables Atera’s unique business model, simplicity, and sophistication.”
Barracuda Managed Workplace RMM: “Managed Workplace RMM’s competitive advantages include its built-in security assessment, agentless architecture, integrated antivirus with award-winning Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus (rated as top product from AV-Comparatives and AV-Test), free remote IT support tool, flat-fee pricing, and our partner program with a dedicated sales engineer and account manager to help our MSP partners to grow their business.”
ConnectWise Automate: “Flexibility and integration. ConnectWise Automate is flexible enough to monitor and automate nearly any IT process or task you can think of (aside from MDM). And our ecosystem provides more integration options than any competing vendor, so customers can choose products that best fit their business need. Not to mention our community of innovative partners, who are constantly creating and sharing. Beyond all of that, we also offer the most comprehensively integrated suite in the RMM industry. It’s more than syncing tickets and computers, we streamline device counts, identify upsell opportunities, run scripts from ticket workflows, and keep all of that data aligned between ConnectWise Sell, Manage and Control.”
Continuum: “At the Essential (basic level service) tier, we provide visibility into the entire client environment (servers, desktops, network devices, mobile devices), 24×7 support for the service provider and end clients through our NOC + Help Desk, and seamless integration with other IT management tools, including Continuum BDR, Continuum Security, and many PSA offerings.”
At the Elite (Premium level service) tier, we include proactive NOC services that allow IT service providers to offload routine management activities and project work to Continuum to focus on more profitable opportunities to help scale their business, increase revenue, and be efficient.”
VSA by Kaseya: “Kaseya’s VSA is the only RMM that natively integrates the management of both the endpoint and the network in one solution, including a single pane of glass visualization across the environment. Additionally, Kaseya improves the power of the technician with deeply integrated documentation and a comprehensive automation exchange of pre-built automation.”
NinjaRMM: “NinjaRMM is very popular for its ease of use, yet being very powerful at the same time. We have no contracts, and we provide free onboarding and U.S.-based support. A recent Reddit survey ranked Ninja #1 in patching, customer support, and stability.”
Vigilix: “We are the only RMM platform exclusively focused on the on the nuance and unique needs of the point of sale market. We are flexible. We ask our customers what they want their sandbox to be instead of dictating limited options for what we think it should be. We are the most secure RMM platform in the world. We are channel focused and allow our resellers to resell our platform to their end-user customers in all areas of the POS market: hospitality, retail, grocery, hotels and resorts.”
[April 10, 2019 update] We reached out to each of the vendors that participated in our original RMM comparison to see if there were any updates on their products since Nov. 1, 2018. Barracuda (which acquired Managed Workplace from Avast earlier this year) and ConnectWise shared the following updates to their products:
Barracuda Managed Workplace now includes:
- The ability to secure weak points with multi-layered defense.
- Apply service plans for all managed customers to standardize service delivery.
- A free remote IT support tool to allow MSPs to securely connect with their customers’ machines from any location to remotely resolve issues, perform tasks, reboot, transfer files, and chat with customers.
- 135 pre-built reports for MSPs to demonstrate their value to their customers.
Barracuda also revealed that it will offer 3rd-party patching, called Advanced Software Management, during the summer 2019 timeframe. This feature will allow MSPs to manage patches across hundreds of vendors and thousands of revisions of software.
ConnectWise shared the following update for ConnectWise Automate:
“In recent releases, we’ve added new actionable dashboards for Patching & Monitoring. These give technicians a quick glimpse into alerts, offline devices, and even offline probe machines. We’ve also made more functions like the Control Center and Computer Management screen accessible from the web, providing faster access and greater agility for technicians to remotely access information on any device.”