If you’re a new or growing MSP, discovering tools and processes that will let you do more with less is a prime focus. You’re always looking for ways to boost that bottom line by cutting costs, driving more revenue, and improving overall efficiency.
If you have more than a handful of employees, you’ve likely already implemented good RMM (remote monitoring and management) and PSA (professional services automation) tools. After all, studies show that service providers running business systems such as RMM and PSA tools command higher rates, renew more clients, spend less time on data management, and are more profitable overall than companies without automation support.
Now you’re wondering about the next level. Maybe you’ve been worried about your lack of infrastructure visibility. Or maybe a network infrastructure failure has already bitten you.
Quite possibly you’ve been hearing rumblings in the industry about how infrastructure RMM can help you deliver complete network management, and now you’re curious — What is it? And do you really need it?
What is network infrastructure RMM?
Network infrastructure RMM is like the RMM you know and love but specifically for infrastructure devices. Where a traditional RMM helps you manage servers and endpoints, a network infrastructure tool gives you visibility and control over devices like routers, switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers.
Network infrastructure RMM does things like:
- Automatically map and take inventory of the network
- Monitor and alert on network elements
- Back up network configurations, and give you the ability to quickly restore a previous config
- Offer secure remote access to infrastructure devices
But we already have an RMM tool
That’s great! But as I’ve pointed out, traditional RMM tools focus on endpoints and servers. They just don’t give you the management capability you need for infrastructure. A network infrastructure tool works as a complement to traditional RMM by extending its capabilities across the whole network.
But we already monitor the network
Many monitoring tools provide great alerting. But how do you troubleshoot with the data you get? Only network infrastructure RMM combines alerting with documentation, automated mapping, configuration management, remote access, and more.
OK, but is a network infrastructure tool really necessary?
Let me answer that by turning this around and asking you a few questions:
- How do you react when there’s a failure that takes a client down?
That’s a trick question — because if you’re reacting, you’re already behind the eight ball. Downtime is bad for your clients and puts your relationship with them at a risk. The more it happens, and the longer it takes to fix when it does happen, the worse the erosion of client trust.
- How often do you send a network engineer on-site?
Every truck roll is an expense that eats away at your profit margin. Once your tech arrives, the clock starts ticking. Now — do they have up-to-date documentation? Do they know the problem they’re looking for? Or are they on a blind hunt to figure out what’s causing the issue?
- How do you handle complaints about the internet being slow?
Maybe the culprit is the ISP, maybe it’s the guy in the corner streaming Netflix, or maybe it’s a pegged firewall. It’s hard to know where to even start looking. And if you don’t know where to look, you’re wasting time.
- How do you document your client networks?
In a troubleshooting situation, it’s critical to know what you’re managing and how it’s connected. Otherwise, you’re wasting time. Again.
- How do you pitch new business?
It’s important to get an accurate picture of the environment you’ll be dealing with before you sign that contract. Once you build your quote and the client signs off, it’s nearly impossible to dig yourself out of a mess.
- How do you onboard new clients?
Does it take days, weeks, or even months?
- How do you perform network configuration backups?
Do your techs scramble to recreate the configs from scratch while your client fumes over the outage?
If any of these questions got you thinking about how much time your techs spend managing a client’s network and whether there’s a better (faster) way, then a network infrastructure tool could be a profitable addition to your business.
Photo: jseliger2 via Flickr.com. Used under CC 2.0 License.