In a move past its roots as a provider of provisioning and management tools for virtual machines, Nerdio has released a new edition of its Nerdio Manager for MSP (NMM) product that draws on physical device administration services in Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM).
The goal is to give MSPs looking to use Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop as a platform for delivering secure work-from-anywhere services greater control over a critical component of the AVD stack.
“If your employees are working from home and they’re working on personal devices, you can no longer ignore the endpoint,” said Nerdio CEO Vadim Vladimirskiy today in a conversation with ChannelPro. “It has to be fast and it has to be secure, and MEM really brings all of those capabilities to the MSP.”
Nerdio Manager for MSP version 3.0, which officially debuted today, also includes a variety of new application management and cost optimization features. Nerdio unveiled the product on the opening day of its NerdioCon 2022 partner conference, which takes place this week in Cancun, Mexico.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager is a centralized management interface incorporating capabilities found separately in Microsoft’s Configuration Manager and Intune solutions. Technicians can use it to provision and administer Windows PCs and servers, Apple Macs, and mobile devices running Android and iOS; manage encryption, antivirus, firewall, and other security settings on those devices; and apply zero-trust security controls to them.
Companies that use the Business Premium edition of Microsoft 365 already own an MEM license, making it an appealing candidate for managing the physical component of an AVD environment. “But the management experience really hasn’t been that easy for MSPs, so not a lot of them are using it today,” Vladimirskiy says.
Building MEM functionality into NMM is designed to make benefiting from the Microsoft product’s capabilities simpler. Among other things, MEM features available in NMM 3.0 enable MSPs to view and control which applications are deployed on each of the endpoints they’re responsible for, monitor the performance of those endpoints, and enforce compliance with policy-based security requirements.
First unveiled last January, Nerdio Manager for MSP became generally available in April. Nerdio has been steadily enhancing the product’s ability to support successful AVD deployments since then by adding features for storage management, backup, network management, and more. Layering endpoint management into the product is the latest step in that evolution.
It’s also an important step toward turning NMM into a new kind of management tool for the cloud computing era that MSPs can use either alongside or potentially in place of traditional endpoint management solutions.
“I think the function of an RMM in a cloud-first world is different. It’s lighter. It’s not really as complicated as the current RMMs that are out there are today,” Vladimirskiy says. “Those are necessary for the current environments, but we think in the cloud-first world there’s going to be a wider set of functionality [needed], and we think that we may be able to play that role over time.”
SkyKick, Augmentt, and JumpCloud are three of many other vendors looking to arm MSPs with cloud era management tools. Datto, Kaseya, and other RMM vendors are developing cloud administration functionality for their products too.
New in NMM 3.0 beyond MEM integration is an application access management feature that lets technicians selectively whitelist or blacklist apps within multi-session Azure virtual desktops for specific sets of users. The new functionality aims to reduce the number of desktop images MSPs must support for their AVD customers, potentially down to just one.
New Azure Active Directory join functionality in NMM, meanwhile, lets MSPs add “cloud PCs” via Microsoft’s Windows 365 Enterprise offering without assigning those endpoints to a domain controller. “The promise here is that you no longer need an Azure footprint of any kind to deploy cloud PCs,” Vladimirskiy said in today’s keynote.
Also available now in NMM is cost management functionality designed to help MSPs more easily compare real-world Azure consumption to the estimates approved by their customers before deployment.
“In a cloud-first world, costs can feel a little elastic,” Vladimirskiy said in a NerdioCon keynote address this morning. “Cloud pricing is based on consumption, and customers really don’t like surprise bills. Often we see MSPs can get caught in the middle of that.”
Nerdio’s new “margin optimization” report visually highlights specific instances in which actual usage in an Azure environment varies from expectations, so MSPs can in turn see where their margins are higher or lower than projected and reprice services appropriately.
A further cost-related upgrade in NMM 3.0 lets MSPs assess the financial impact of transitioning customers onto Microsoft’s controversial New Commerce Experience via Nerdio’s Azure cost estimator tool.
According to Vladimirskiy, Nerdio has rolled out 15 updates for NMM with 180 new features in the last 12 months. The product has supported Windows 365 since the day after that solution’s debut last July, and gained new BDR capabilities last December.
Together, NMM and Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, a single-tenant solution for corporate IT departments, now support some 2 million endpoints globally, up from 1 million last September.