Transitioning to remote work is a significant change for any department, but even more so for the IT team. Shifting an entire company to remote work environments can be time-consuming and can pose stressful security concerns. And we know a good majority of companies were not prepared for how quickly this came on. How do you effectively monitor employees’ computer activity from a distance and ensure overall company security? That’s where remote monitoring and management (RMM) comes in.
What is RMM?
Remote monitoring and management is deployed via a platform provided by managed service providers (MSP) to provide management visibility of your devices from a remote location. RMM reduces the likelihood and impact of an unwanted technology failure.
To deploy RMM, an MSP installs a client agent onto your workstations, mobile devices, and servers. The agent links your endpoints to the RMM center, establishing a feed of data about machine health and functionality. This proactive monitoring allows your MSP to identify issues before they become a problem and provide remote maintenance when necessary.
Through the RMM platform, MSPs can:
- Monitor information about client hardware, software, and networks
- Automate maintenance tasks
- Provide asset inventory
- Receive activity reports
- Administer software patches
- Install software or upgrades
The agent software also allows your MSP to establish remote access needed to provide desktop support. MSPs usually set up workstations to require end-user approval via a screen prompt before the remote support session is allowed.
MSPs recommend limiting the installation of the client agent to company devices as personal devices could pose potential security risks for the network.
Software patches resolve issues found in a software package after its initial release, usually pertaining to security and functionality. Patch management includes testing and deployment of software patches. Through RMM, MSPs can remotely push patches to a network of computers to maintain optimal performance.
Patch management is available for various endpoints and operating systems, and can be automated depending on your network environment. Status updates on patch deployment are visible to your MSP as they monitor your devices.
An essential part of successful remote IT management is antivirus management. Similar to patch management, managed antivirus features allow your MSP to install antivirus software on the network devices and routinely scan for issues.
Daily antivirus monitoring gives your MSP visibility on the health of your devices, while quarterly reports from this data show larger measures that must be taken.
How to select an RMM provider
Bringing in an outside party elicits fear and uncertainty for many IT leaders. With how much time and effort you invest in your network, handing it over to an MSP can feel like giving them your firstborn child. The key is to find a managed service provider that makes you feel comfortable.
1. Assess overall knowledge
Identify three to five MSPs to compare. If you’re unsure of your goals, find a varied group of size, experience, and price. Assess their knowledge of RMM to the best of your ability. You can also discuss professional topics outside of the job at hand to get a feel for their overall expertise.
2. Consider soft skills
Besides the technical aspects of the job, also consider the soft skills of the MSP. Discuss how often you would like status reports and for what levels of issues you would like to receive notifications. For example, you likely wouldn’t want to hear about every patch test, but you would like to hear about a security breach. You can also address the main point of contact on your team and the best mode of communication by which to reach you.
3. Trial the contenders
If your need for RMM isn’t immediate, consider offering other trial jobs to the top contenders. For example, trial something low stakes but sophisticated enough that it’s a good test of the MSP’s capabilities. Be sure to still go through the work of writing a service level agreement. This way, you have expectations against which you can assess the MSP at the end of the project.
If you need RMM immediately, ask your top prospects for case studies and customer references. Take the time to reach out to these clients to ask about security, professionalism, and overall experience with the MSP.
Benefits of Remote Monitoring and Management
RMM allows complete visibility of your devices, even when your team is entirely remote. With comprehensive monitoring and automated processes, RMM is efficient and effective in providing endpoint protection.
The value of proactivity cannot be understated, especially in the case of your network health and security. With the help of a qualified MSP, you can continue your daily tasks and projects and monitor your most important asset.