Monitoring and RMM tools

April 7, 2013 — 1 Comment

Sorry for the delay in posting, I’ve broken my 3 posts a week rule, but I’m back now!

As part of the Labtech rollout we’re in the middle of, I’ve spent a LOT of time with our automation team (thanks Peter M, you’ve been awesome!)reviewing the types of monitors that are important to us as MSPs and to our clients. It’s very hard to distinguish between what is truly important and what is ‘noise’ and if you don’t get the balance exactly right you risk missing an important alert for a client or a trend which may lead to a client issue.

Labtech has an interesting approach to the alerting/monitoring part which is new to me, as part of their “Ignite” functionality there are a number of monitors turned on out of the box – some of which are useful, some not so much.

For instance, we’ve had one machine create (and fortunately auto-close!) nearly 10000 tickets in Connectwise just from an alert which I think could be better tuned so keeping an eye on this during a rollout is very important. Conversely, other alerts built into the Ignite functionality like knowing if a client machine is on a RBL can help troubleshoot mail flow issues and virus infections, so you take the good with the bad I guess.

But I can’t help but think there’s a lack of higher level thinking on monitoring and I think it’s because we focus on individual problems (like a service being stopped, or a disk being out of space) and we don’t look at outcomes.

I’ve had a bit of a discussion with Tim Brewer about outcome monitoring rather than individual issue monitoring and we’ve come up with a list of things we think that individual monitors should be ‘trued up’ to reflect. The main one is:

UXM – User Experience Monitoring

We spend a lot of time wondering about whether our clients are happy with the performance of their network, but what do we do to actually ensure that they feel like their machines are responding in a snappy and expected way. I liken this to the type of Benchmarking that tools like 3DMark complete for gaming machines etc, you need to test real world applications and their performance on a PC/Server/Internet/everything basis to truly understand how a client is experiencing things in their world. Wouldn’t it be great to give an ‘experience score’ to a clients network? I believe that the below experience monitoring is required to be trued up into this figure to give a true cross section of performance across all elements of a clients network.

In our opinion, these are:

CXM – Cloud Experience Monitoring

If your client is using cloud services (and who isn’t nowadays) measuring the performance of these services is essential to understanding the “UXM” of a clients network. The performance of a clients network may be amazing, but if they’re using a poor cloud service provider, or there is a misconfiguration their UXM may be well below what is expected.

CEM – Client Endpoint Monitoring

This is traditionally actually something MSPs do poorly at monitoring, how many of you are using monitors to check the RAM usage, or processor performance of your clients workstations? I’d venture to say not that many, but this can more often be the cause of client problems than any other issue and is essentially money for jam if you are monitoring it – you can easily go to clients are say “these 4 machines are consistently being used beyond their maximum, can we quote you a new one?” – ready made demand generation!

MDM – Mobile Device Monitoring

Another area for growth, most MSPs aren’t monitoring mobile devices and this is a easy add-on for most MSP contracts. All of the major RMM vendors have MDM now with agents for most of the mobile platforms so why not get it out there as a ‘value add’ to your customers?

CNM – Client Network Monitoring

This is more in the traditional realm of MSP monitoring tools, but again I think we can improve in this area. Checking simple things like pings between WAN sites, or utilisation on internet/switch/router links can identify issues before they happen which are often blamed on other aspects of the network or are difficult to identify.

CAM – Client Application Monitoring

This is one of those key things that need to be monitored to give you a holistic view of the network – what if a client has blazingly fast internet, cloud services and server/network but still has the pain of every time they open Office on their PCs it takes a long time because they have a plugin for a legacy application installed which is slowing it down markedly? This can be heavily affecting a clients productivity and happiness but these are the sort of things easily missed that can be blamed on other aspects of the network if not carefully monitored.

IEM – Internet Experience Monitoring

I’ve seen this happen 100s of times for a variety of reasons. A clients internet seems fast, they’re never actually using any more than 10% of their bandwidth but accessing a particular site is slow for them because of it’s design, or routing, or any number of a dozen reasons for a particular site to be slow. I think this could be tailored per client for an MSP to ask “what are the top 10 websites your staff use for business purposes?” and monitor these with rigor to give an experience score.

CSM – Client Security Monitoring

This is one that we actually do pretty well as MSPs because we know the consequences if we don’t – but a simple ‘score’ based on Updates installed, Antivirus installed (and up to date if you’re still using a Signature based AV), and open ports/network scans clean would be helpful to give a holistic view of the network

Maybe as an industry if we move away from the “C Drive is down to 10% of available disk space” and onto “Client XYZ has a poor Internet Experience Monitoring score” monitoring might be a little more valued by our clients.

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One response to Monitoring and RMM tools

  1. 

    Great post Rob. Industry tools need to move this way and quickly! We’ll do our part at BrightGauge.

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