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Since last year, N-able has made significant improvements in its rollout features and procedures. When the improvements are combined with two new excellent support tools, N-able's solution provides one of the most comprehensive feature sets in the managed services market.
Under the hood, the portal's engine is essentially N-able's Momentum software. Now at version 6.5, Momentum has been reworked from the bottom up to dramatically decrease the amount of time required to roll out new customers by taking advantage of deployment templates. Version 6.5 is also addressing cost of ownership by significantly improving the time to train new technicians.
N-able's technology combines probe-based and agent-based architectures into a single product solution. While probe-based systems do not need agents, any mobile asset outside a network—such as a laptop—becomes unmanageable. N-able encourages MSPs to use probes inside a network and only place agents on mobile devices.
N-able now provides a support tool specifically designed to administer Windows-based machines and devices remotely. Unlike terminal services, Remote Desktop and VNC, Remote Support Manager provides full remote management capabilities without having to take remote control of a machine. In addition to Windows, N-able supports Linux, Novell and MAC OSes. Furthermore, N-able offers a Remote Environment Manager, which is a policy-based desktop-management product.
For Windows devices, Momentum can do TCP port availability, WMI and SNMP-based monitoring, SNMP trap monitoring, Syslog monitoring, and can monitor event logs, including read text files, and execute ODBC queries. What's more,
Momentum uses WMI to filter any new software installed on machines. The only caveat to this process is that software must be registered with Windows.
When working with the Windows Remote Desktop, technicians have to disturb end users whenever they need to fix a problem on a PC. With Remote Support Manager, however, technicians can connect to a machine and start or stop processes, read event logs, install software and delete files without interrupting users. The tool also includes a chat Window to alert users whenever technicians need to gain complete access and reboot a PC.
Engineers found that Remote Support Manager is the easiest support tool to use in this review. Remote Support is an attended access tool that works like the LogMeIn Web tool. After downloading a plug-in, an SSL-encrypted tunnel is created, pointing back to NCentral. The technology requires no agent because the tunnel is only created when users request support. When technicians disconnect, the plug-in will be uninstalled or turned off.
Support Manager also provides basic support for Intel VPro and plans to add complete support within 12 months. In addition to turning power on, Intel VPro can provide asset management information even when devices are off. The technology will improve the way devices are discovered and managed.
Environment Manager's policies are assigned to users, so MSPs can define complete PC configurations once and apply them across entire enterprises. Configurations are enforced, so PCs become self-healing. For instance, if a drive mapping is deleted, Environment Manager will restore the correct mapping after a certain time.
In addition to mapping drives, Environment Manager can recognize printers, maintain security and group policies, change backgrounds and e-mail signature files, and institute power settings.
Because Environment Manager can automatically remediate many settings, MSPs can allocate fewer resources to PC support, which also equates to having more junior staff working on PCs.
N-able is somewhat weak, however, in providing a knowledge base or links to connections to information located at external knowledge bases. The company feels that System Essentials will be providing this information in future Windows OSes.
N-able claims to be 100 percent channel-focused—even in all of its enterprise deployments. NCentral can be rebranded and it is specifically designed for those MSPs that are not in a position to make up-front financial commitments to fully host a licensed product and are only interested in servicing small to midsize enterprises using a managed services environment.
Momentum is sold on a per-customer, per-month basis with no up-front commitments. MSPs get access to technical training and Q&A sessions with N-able's solutions architect. They also get access to a partner center, which includes programs and tools to help them go to market.