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7 Tips for Buying Managed Services Software: Page 2 of 2

Too many managed services providers end up replacing their remote monitoring and management software. Here's expert advice for making the right choice the first time. By Rich Freeman

3) To Host or Not to Host
Most RMM tools are available as hosted solutions or traditional on-premises systems. Which option is right for you depends on how much start-up capital you have. Hosted solutions don't require hefty up-front infrastructure and licensing outlays, and they usually deploy faster too. However, a hosted solution's monthly subscription charges can add up quickly. "If you've got enough resources to purchase a tool outright, in the long run you'll be more profitable," advises Erick Simpson, vice president and CIO of Intelligent Enterprise Inc., a managed services consulting firm in Garden Grove, Calif.

4) Explore the Extras
MSP tool vendors increasingly sell more than just RMM software. Many also offer managed security and backup add-ons, or interfaces for interoperating with third-party security and backup tools. Buying an RMM system with built-in security and backup software is usually cheaper and simpler than integrating with separate applications, but it also reduces your flexibility. "If you're locked into a proprietary solution, it limits your ability to change with the market," observes Amy Luby, a principal at Mobitech, an Omaha, Neb.-based MSP, and CEO of the Mobilize SMB Private Services Network (MSPSN), an MSP membership organization.

Many RMM vendors also provide leased access to outsourced network operations centers (NOCs) and help desks. This can free you from running your own NOC and help desk, or provide supplemental staffing on evenings and weekends. "If I were going to start over today, I would only look at [RMM] services that had some back-office support," says Karl Palachuk, CEO of KPEnterprises Business Consulting Inc., a solution provider and MSP in Sacramento, Calif.

5) Talk to Your Peers
Don't rely solely on your own impressions of RMM systems. Other MSPs can be a great source of input too. Organizations such as the MSPAlliance and MSPSN, local peer groups, and online user groups (such as Yahoo's SMB Managed Services group) are all excellent venues for finding veteran MSPs to consult.

6) Take a Test Drive
Never purchase an RMM system before thoroughly testing it--and not just with simulated customers. "Everything is going to work in your lab environment. Give it a real-life test," says Tony Williams, vice president and CTO of Riata Technologies, an MSP in Austin, Texas.

7) Go Bargain Hunting
Found a product you like? Don't be too quick to sign on the dotted line. Even small MSPs without serious bargaining leverage can occasionally talk an RMM vendor into sweetening the deal. "Whether they admit to it or not, they will sometimes bargain on price and they will sometimes bargain on terms," says Palachuk. Additionally, he notes, both MSPSN and the ASCII Group Inc., an IT reseller association headquartered in Bethesda, Md., offer discounted rates on popular RMM solutions.

Palachuk's most fervent advice, however, is not to let the challenges of finding the right RMM tool keep you from entering the managed services fray. "The biggest tip I give is just don't delay," he says. "Sell that first contract and get going, because this is the future."


About the Author

Rich Freeman's picture

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Founding Editor

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