AVG Expands Capabilities Of Managed Workplace As It Strives For A Uniquely Integrated Remote Monitoring and Management Solution

AVG Technologies has a grand vision of becoming the market leader in Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions, and the company's channel is crucial in its plan to get there.

The security vendor has branched out in recent years from its core business of antivirus software. Now AVG is beefing up its RMM flagship product -- Managed Workplace -- with new capabilities, including remote control functionality, integrated disaster recovery and support of the Macintosh OS.

Those additions, released Tuesday, will help AVG's partners serve a broader range of customers more effectively and efficiently while boosting their own businesses, Francois Daumard, AVG's vice president of global channel development, told CRN.

[Related: AVG Reveals New IT Management Solutions At Cloud Summit]

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Daumard, a veteran of Microsoft, Apple and IBM who has spent his whole career working with the channel, said AVG has transformed itself from being only a consumer software vendor to a business-to-business company with a focus on the SMB market.

Last spring, the company launched a new brand -- AVG Business -- to make sure the consumer side of the company didn't confuse partners.

AVG Business consists of two lines of products: security, encapsulating the antivirus applications it made its mark with years back; and the remote management solutions. AVG sells those business products exclusively through its global channel, which now consists of some 10,000 partners.

Around the time the company introduced its business brand, it updated Managed Workplace with a totally redesigned user interface.

"We have the sleekest user interface in the entire industry. And that matters a lot. We're not just talking about cosmetics here. We're talking about a fully intuitive user interface," Daumard said. It's so easy to use "channel partners don't have to worry about training."

The latest release, 9.2, advances the product's capabilities beyond an attractive and intuitive interface.

The new remote control functionality embeds technology from ISL Online at no additional cost, allowing channel partners to remotely service their customers' IT problems without paying more for the product.

Partners using Managed Workplace today get an improved product for the same price, and potential new partners looking for an RMM platform can get one without also shopping for a remote control product, he said.

"It was the next big check box in our road map," Daumard said.

Another partnership, this time with Infrascale, enables the business disaster and recovery capabilities.

Previously, AVG partners could resell Infrascale as a bridge between the recovery software and the RMM platform. The latest release integrates the two products.

Because Apple's Macintosh computers are winning share in the SMB market, Daumard said, it was also time to fully support the Mac OS.

"What that means for a channel partner is it's no longer a Windows-only world. They need their RMM solution to be fully compatible with the Mac," he said.

Bob Ascherl, director of managed services at Advanced Technology Services, a global AVG partner headquartered in Peoria, Ill, said the new release further simplifies the complex web of technologies that solution providers must currently juggle for their customers.

"We're looking at it as kind of, hopefully, moving in the direction of a single pane of glass for all the products you would need to basically service either yourself or an external customer," Ascherl told CRN.

AVG is in a unique position to ultimately integrate those related technologies: remote monitoring and management, mobile device management, anti-virus, content filtering, online backup and remote control.

If it succeeds, it will make possible for customers an enterprise scale solution at a small-business price point, he said.

ATS uses AVG's remote management solution to service its own customers, and also hosts Managed Workplace for some smaller MSPs. The company, a spinoff from Caterpillar that also has an industrial parts division, has been participating in the beta program for the 9.2 release.

"The new remote control stuff is going to potentially help us not only decrease costs in delivering the service, but decrease costs on the back end," Ascherl told CRN.

The reason is, ATS currently uses LogMeIn to achieve that functionality, but if "everything goes well, we'll be able to stop using the LogMeIn software in the future."

"It's a pretty significant play for us," Ascherl said. "It reduces time, effort and energy in trying to manage external customers from a help desk, service desk agent, where they only have to log in to one platform instead of potentially six or seven, with the synergy of having the same look and feel in a cohesive unit."

To help its partners gain expertise with its tools, Daumard told CRN, AVG this week launched its Partner Academy, a free program through which partners can learn more about sales, finance, marketing and best practices for business.