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November 10, 2022 |

ConnectWise RMM to Gain Network and SaaS Management Functionality

Ameer Karim (pictured right) and other executives discussed those plans, a slew of additions to the ConnectWise security portfolio, and the company’s ambitious vision for its next-generation Asio platform during this week’s IT Nation Connect event in Orlando.

ConnectWise has network monitoring and management, SaaS management, and expanded mobile device management via Microsoft’s Intune application coming to its ConnectWise RMM platform.

The managed services software and services leader discussed those plans, a slew of new additions to its security product family, and its ambitious vision for Asio, the next-generation platform it unveiled a year ago along with ConnectWise RMM, during conversations with ChannelPro and a product innovation keynote today at its 2022 IT Nation Connect event in Orlando.

Collectively, the RMM updates are designed to turn what is today a traditional remote monitoring and management solution into a “unified monitoring and management” (UMM) platform with integrated, automated support for everything from conventional endpoints to mobile devices, IoT hardware, virtualized resources, cloud infrastructure, SaaS applications, and networking gear.

“We do aspects of endpoints and we do aspects of applications [today], but what I want to be able to do is the full stack,” says Ameer Karim, executive vice president and general manager of UMM at ConnectWise. “Our vision is to be that single source of truth.”

Kaseya outlined plans to incorporate similar capabilities in the next release of its VSA remote monitoring and management solution, due shortly, during its Connect IT conference in June. N-able introduced a SaaS management solution in August and previewed a cloud infrastructure management system last month. Augmentt, JumpCloud, Nerdio, and SkyKick are among a growing crop of cloud management specialty vendors.

ConnectWise’s forthcoming network management system, which is slated to reach users in January, will be based on technology from an unspecified third-party vendor that’s been integrated at a source code level with ConnectWise’s own programming.

“It’s not like you’re going to have to use somebody else’s tool,” Karim says. “You’ll be using [ConnectWise] RMM to manage your networks. You’ll see your firewalls, your routers, your switches, your network topology. You’ll discover it out of the box, everything, and you’re not paying any extra for it. It’s part of the package.”

ConnectWise is still evaluating whether to build, buy, or partner with an existing vendor on the SaaS management system, but is gravitating toward using a proof-of-concept prototype solution built in just three weeks atop Asio and available for viewing in the IT Nation Connect expo hall.

“The progress the team has made in a very short period of time is impressive,” Karim says.

The enhanced Intune functionality will add more robust, bi-directional capabilities to an integration that mostly imports and displays mobile device data at present. 

“Today, the compliance information and all the devices that are enrolled in Intune show up in our RMM tool,” Karim says. “Where we’re taking it is to the next level where you’ll be able to see a lot more of the device details and take action on things.” Examples include the ability to get real-time alerts, manage device security policies, and modify configuration settings.

Intune will remain the foundation of ConnectWise’s MDM strategy going forward. “A lot of our partners are already using Intune,” Karim observes.

Though ConnectWise RMM is the centerpiece of ConnectWise’s UMM vision, Karim emphasizes, the company remains committed to its earlier ConnectWise Automate solution as well, despite reports and rumors to the contrary. 

“We’re fully invested in Automate,” Karim says, noting that the company has recently added resources to the Automate product team and is bringing in a new vice president to lead the group. There is no timeline for eventually discontinuing the solution either, he continues.

“We’re not forcing anybody to get off of Automate,” Karim says, adding that “the community will decide” if and when to retire the system. Some MSPs, he suspects, will have good reason to continue using the product indefinitely.

“For partners that want to have an on-prem solution, Automate is the only answer,” he notes, adding that other MSPs appreciate the system’s robust scripting and customization features.

“There’s still, I’ll call it, more granular control in Automate, and for that reason, I think there is going to be some preference among those guys that are super hardcore technical folks to gravitate towards Automate,” Karim says.

To help Automate users who do wish to change platforms do so, ConnectWise will soon provide a self-serve migration tool.

New security products unveiled this week include ConnectWise Access Management, a privileged access management solution, based on technology in the ConnectWise Control remote access solution, that lets MSPs create temporary administrative logon accounts on demand for their end users.

“If somebody wants to launch QuickBooks or run an install and they don’t have privileges to do that, we can elevate their privileges for that action and then remove them, and all that can either be automatically approved or manually approved,” says Jeff Bishop, executive vice president and general manager of platform at ConnectWise. 

The new system is credential-less, he notes. “You don’t have to share a username and password.”

ConnectWise Access Management was developed by ConnectWise Labs, a recently formed product innovation unit. “We’ve got a handful of developers and product managers that are in there dreaming what’s the next things we should be building,” Bishop says. 

ConnectWise Vulnerability Management scans end user environments automatically for defensive lapses and weak points. ConnectWise foreshadowed plans to release the product in June when it shipped the new system’s more modest predecessor, ConnectWise Risk Assessment.

Two additional newcomers to the ConnectWise security portfolio draw on strategic alliances with third-party vendors. SASE by ConnectWise and Exium, a maker of integrated networking and security software, offers a suite of secure internet access tools. A separate identity and access management solution from ConnectWise and Evo Security combines MFA, single sign-on, elevated access, and unified directory service functionality to provide zero-trust access to cloud and on-premises resources.

ConnectWise Access Management and Vulnerability Management, along with ConnectWise RMM and new ticketing, project management, subscription management, and other modules coming soon to ConnectWise PSA (formerly known as ConnectWise Manage) are among the first batch of ConnectWise products based on Asio, with more set to arrive in a steady procession. According to Bishop, sharing Asio’s underlying service architecture enables those systems to raise technician productivity while reducing duplicated and inaccurate data.

“We no longer have to sync data between applications,” he said during a keynote today. “Now when a device is discovered by our security product, it’s immediately available inside the PSA. As we start to onboard a new company inside of the PSA, it’s immediately available inside the RMM.”

Asio is more than just a set of application microservices, however, according to Raghu Ram Bongula, who became ConnectWise’s CTO last month. “It’s very strategic,” he says, likening it to an extensible platform-as-a-service offering that links software and other components from ConnectWise itself, outside vendors, and MSPs. 

“Our goal is we’re going to have a single pane of glass across all the different problems a small business has to solve,” Bongula says.

“Asio is not just the foundation for your solutions,” Bishop adds, “it’s more of how you’re going to support and interact digitally with the entire ecosystem.” The platform will eventually include a knowledge store, for example, that MSPs can use to share everything from invoice templates and workflow automations to scripts, patches, and integrations with co-workers, peer group members, or even the entire ConnectWise partner community. 

“Right now, as an industry, we’re making everybody rebuild everything,” Bishop notes. Machine learning and business intelligence functionality, he continues, will allow the system to correlate activities and identities across ConnectWise and third-party solutions in ways that can strengthen security.

“If you see somebody logged in from a foreign country at 2:00 a.m. but they’re logged in over here in this other product at 2:00 p.m. from Cincinnati, there’s a problem, but when they’re completely disparate products, that’s hard to match,” Bishop notes.

Asio’s “foundational pieces” are in place now, he continues. Creating the platform’s UI and automation engine are among the development tasks scheduled for 2023. Bishop expects Asio to be 85 to 90 percent complete by this time next year.

Completing that process and similar work on other solutions even faster is among Bongula’s priorities in his new post. “We have a great roadmap,” he says, “so my goal is to accelerate the delivery of that and make sure that we deliver those solutions for our partners as soon as possible.”

Bongula wants to use continuous delivery methodologies to get updates and fixes out to partners on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis as well. “There’s just so much happening” in the world of IT, he observes. “We need to be able to react quickly to that landscape.”

IT Nation Connect, which presented a complete agenda as scheduled today despite the passage of Hurricane Nicole across Florida, concludes on Friday.

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