Can anyone recommend the top performing Network Management software for a small IT service company?

So I was asked in the comments…


 

Can anyone recommend the top performing Network Management software for a small IT service company like mine? Does anyone use Kaseya.com or GFI.com? How do they compare to these guys I found recently: <a href=”http://www.n-able.com”> N-able N-central helpdesk software

</a>? What is your best take in cost vs performance among those three? I need a good advice please… Thanks in advance!

The best resource is to read up on the comments in the smbmanagedservices@yahoogroups.com listserve.  The answer is “it depends”.  Some people like Kaseya for it’s robustness, but some people don’t like it because it’s expensive and can be time consuming to do right.  Some sign up for hosted solutions to begin — http://www.virtualadministrator.com/   Then there are folks that sign up for the remote management tools provided by http://www.mspsn.com/.

I wouldn’t say there’s one “best” in the pack, each one has pros and cons, but my best advice is to lurk on that list.  See the likes, dislikes, the rants and the raves.

13 Thoughts on “Can anyone recommend the top performing Network Management software for a small IT service company?

  1. It really depends on what is important for you, but here is my perspective. We’ve been providing managed services since 2003 and have used OpenSource/Free products, N-Able, and (most recently) Kaseya – and I’ve kept an eye on all the players as part of my duties. Take the below with a grain of salt, but I think organizations like MSPU, MSPAlliance and other may have guide (or blog posts!) on how to evaluate an RMM for your specific needs. I know Eric Simpson’s book specifically speaks RMM (and PSA) selection. 

    Top 4 players in the SMB game are from my perceived viewpoint of their popularity.

    Kaseya
    NAble
    Level Platoforms
    Nimsoft

    Kaseya: Agent Based, powerful scripting, good Remote desktop, good asset tracking, does a ‘middle of the road’ job for monitoring (SNMP, WMI or ICMP). Offers add-on like EndPoint Security, Imaging (BUDR), and User State Management, and the investment isn’t cheap. Recently announced a SaaS offering in partnership with ASCI. Platform is Windows based. They offer MSP and Non MSP versions. Latest version (Kaseya 2) is more mature than previous iterations, a little late in the party for my taste. Full disclure: We’re active partners.

    NAble: Agent + Probe implementation, solid monitoring/notification platform (SNMP, ICMP, WMI), and add-ons are needed for Remote Desktop, asset management, and advanced reporting. Platform is a closed Linux based (last I checked), but they to have separate editions for MSPs and non MSPs. The product has matured substantially over the years, but I don’t believe they offer add-on like AV or backups. They we in the high price range when we were partners. Stopped using them in late 06/early 07.

    Level Platforms: Have not actually used their products, but I keep an eye on them. Interesting that seem to have feature parity across Kaseya & Nable combined. Ingram chose them as their exclusive vendor, and they have a large following, so that speaks to their legitimacy. As I recall, they were more price aggressive than the above.

    NimSoft: Have not used the product yet, but continue to hear and see great things coming from this org. One thing I can tell you is their clearly targeting the Cloud in their offerings, which is personally appealing as we share the same focus. Gary Read (CEO) is a thought leader in the space.

    What I have found equality interesting is the availability of other contenders in the RMM space including GFI (GFI MA), Labtech Software, Karisoft, PacketTrap (recently acquired by Qwest), and openSource folks like Nagios, Ospera, and others. I don’t fewel the OpenSource comminty has unified/centralized enough resources for an MSP, but a hudge-podge of solutions may work well for a in-house shop.

    Hope this helps…perhaps you’re thoroughly confused now…?

    Niv Dolgin
    Director of IT Services
    http://www.sadasystems.com

  2. It’s important to join the lists and keep up with other people’s opinions. Every product has pros and cons and trying to find the perfect solution for you by reading about ‘em will just drive you nuts. Analysis Paralysis.

    After you’ve done that you just need to TRY the products, see how they work, and figure out which is the best for you. Find out what your local peers are using and ask if you can watch them work or try out their systems a bit.

    You will probably find that one of the systems seems to “feel” better to you and the way you work. A lot of the folks on the forum really do split hairs and you probably won’t care about some issues that are deal-breakers for other businesses.

    Seriously, you’re not going to go catastrophically wrong with any of the major players. One of them will probably be “more right” for you.

    Good luck!

  3. We vetted them all except Nimsoft, so can’t say much about that. We took a look at Kaseya, Packet Trap, Level Platform, and N-Able. We chose Packet Trap, here’s why:

    We are finding that the network issues for our customers are becoming that main problem. Packet Trap seems to do better on monitoring network gear and describing the network traffic between the gear. Kaseya, N-Able, and Level Platforms didn’t offer this functionality. PacketTrap seems be solid on the other stuff to, but they need go get custom scripts into their product. They promised it soon.

    Kaseya seems to be the most functionality platform and they have an agent based approach as someone mentioned. If you dont like agents Kaseya is not your platform. However, it’s the most full featured platform we found – with the price tag to go with it. Kaseya support during our trial was really poor.

    Level Platform is agentless and we found it to be weak on the network. Their support was the strongest of the bunch, with PacketTrap a close second.

    N-Able was the most troubling of the platfroms. Difficult to configure, but their remote control features were the best of the bunch. N-Able, like Packet Trap offers both an agent and agentless product.

    Overall, you need to choose a platform that’s right for you. I’d look mostly at PacketTrap and Kaseya.

  4. We (try to) use level platforms and have had no end of problems. A couple of months ago their detection routine was so flawed we had to wipe several of our installs and start again as duplicate devices were being detected.
    There is no changelog or auditing of the changes made to the system so if there is more than one of you using the system you need another process to audit changes you make.
    There is a new version coming our real soon that doesn’t have as many issues, the feature set is good, and the big plus for me is having one wsus console to update that then pushes out updates to the customer sites (although level platforms has to be installed on the same machine as the wsus server at each location – a nasty gotcha i’ve only just discovered).

    LPI is a lot cheaper than N-Able

  5. As an addendum to Niv’s post, Kaseya isn’t just Windows-based but has Macintosh agents as well. A Linux agent is in testing now and as soon as it is a bit more complete Niv, you’ll be one of the first to get on the beta.

    Also unmentioned for Kaseya is a built-in ticketing system that is integrated with monitoring and the desktop agent (your customers just click your branded logo in their system tray to submit a ticket). This is great for a service provider who has yet to go the full PSA route, though, for those who have, there is integration available for Connectwise/Autotask/Tigerpaw.

    As far as the new version goes, it is in release candidate stage now and has been baked in an increasing number of production environments over the past 6 months. With over 1 million agents deployed and 4000+ customers, that’s a lot to be responsible for. I would expect it to be generally available only when it is fully stable.

    For John Parsons who mentioned an issue with support, Kaseya’s 24/7 technical support team is built to handle an existing partner base and doesn’t cover the hundreds of people evaluating Kaseya every month. If you need support during your evaluation work with your sales rep. If there is anything beyond them they will pull in a sales engineer to help you.

    For any existing Kaseya partners reading this, drop me a line to get the latest version of my script pack, now up to 450+ scripts. I just added some stolen laptop scripts including remote webcam capture and desktop screenshot capture, along with updated scripts for silently deploying the latest versions of Java, Adobe, Firefox, Flash, etc.

    Benjamin dot Lavalley at Kaseya dot com, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Kaseya

  6. Good thread. Kaseya is clearly a good platform. I think the bottom line with this discussion is that Kaseya has the most features and it’s also the most expensive. Level Platforms is the cheapest, their support is really poor (although Kaseyas was poor too during our trial which they extended to 8 weeks for us), and Level Platform has had lots of technical problems. Packet Trap is probably the best value for your buck in terms of features versus what you pay. The unkown with Packet Trap is what happens with the Qwest aquisition. We’ve been told by our rep at PacketTrap that Qwest is investing large into the MSP space. They are a big big company, so it should be a positive, but you never really know.

    All of the platforms claim lots of partners, lots of nodes managed etc. Our N-Able rep used pretty much the same numbers as benjamin from Kaseya did in this thread.

    I wouldn’t view any of these posts as the gospel. Try each platform yourself. Look for what you want. We chose PacketTrap. You may chose them or someone else. We’re happy and I am sure you will be too.

  7. I work for a small MSP shop here in San Fransisco whose been using PacketTrap MSP for 3 months now. I personally handle sales & marketing so I’m slightly removed from the technical side of things however, our owner, who has used other RMM tools in the past has been extremely pleased with the tool. Our observations so far are as follows:

    PacketTrap is comparable on server & desktop monitoring to the so called leaders in the space (LPI, Kaseya & n-Able). It also ranks pretty even with additional features like patch & reporting. But where we found it completely left the others in the dust is on the network side of things. PacketTrap MSP goes really deep on routers, switches and other network devices and gives you metrics other tools can’t.

    What I like personally about PacketTrap MSP (or what our tech’s now call PT-MSP;) is the ability to monitor our clients traffic and bandwidth. Having sold managed services for 4 years I know how difficult it can be to get end-users to appreciate proactive services. However, when I show them we can save them over $2K a month on web surfing, it makes things a lot easier!

  8. Like several others in this thread have mentioned, its “different strokes for different folks.” All the products mentioned here are good, and each have loyal followers. Another one not mentioned that’s worth looking at is ITControlSuite. They have a very different approach which is appliance-based, and is very affordable and has some advantages that the others don’t have.

    Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, be sure that you have a solid back-end system in place to manage all the alerts you are going to get from these systems. We use Autotask, and I have to say that it running the RMM system we had before we got Autotask was a nightmare. We had all these false alerts and duplicates coming in, and no real way to track our time against the tickets or bill them. No matter which of the RMM solutions you pick, Autotask can grab the incoming e-mail alerts and turn them into service tickets. It has a built-in workflow automation engine that will triage the tickets and put them in the right queues based on the rules we set up. It also has a great Service Level Management feature that ensures that we are working on tickets based on the next SLA event, rather than first in, first out.

  9. Hello Folks,

    Just wanted to bring to your attention a relatively new network management product that handles many of the challenges being discussed here.

    Full-disclosure, I am the product manager for dopplerVUE, which was recently acquired by Kratos as part of its network management family. We developed dopplerVUE as an agentless platform that very effectively monitors both network equipment (routers, servers, and non-standard devices) and traffic. The dashboard lets you easily customize views, display key metrics and set up alerts.

    dopplerVUE integrates fault, performance and automated discovery and features good data integration – SNMP, WMI, Event Log, Netflow, IPSLA all in one, with no add-ons necessary.

    The product is very affordable, and we offer a 30-day free trial at dopplervue.com that’s easy to use.

    Here’s an interesting case of its use by an MSP. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Kratos-NASDAQ-KTOS-1091904.html

    Happy Holidays,

    Ken Heller
    dopplerVUE Product Manager

  10. Not perhaps the best performing, but an awesome value considering it’s free (ad supported): Spiceworks http://spiceworks.com/

  11. Feature parity aside, I appreciate Kaseya for staying engaged, and listening to what the community is saying, and contributing to the dialog. I think it speaks volumes when partners offer insight as part of the culture they bring to the table – a difficult thing to quantify during pre-sales for those still evaluating options or considering a switch.

    Thanks Benjamin!

    Niv

  12. Yep..
    Zyrion’s Traverse system and network monitoring software is built on a powerful, fully-distributed architecture which improves scalability and performance.
    http://zyrion.com/technology/

  13. Great thread. We use a few, but itControl Suite is really a great tool. That coupled with Autotask or Connectwise and you can offer a fantastic level of services to your end-customers. We are a master MSP, with 250 partners and need to be agnostic, but a bunch of our partners are running ITCS and it is very cost effective. Two quick things: itContro has an applet as well in addition to their appliance. Nice to be able to do either or…or both in one environment. Also, to the comment on back end systems, I can’t agree more — it is all about the setup, and as we offer 7×24 NOC and help desk to our partners it is REALLY critical that everyone is taking a similar approach and using the PSA tool to drive the business. Good luck to all — all the tools described are far superior and more cost effective than the $500K investment we made in the mid/late 90’s. Best – Gerard

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