N-able's N-central 9.0 Adds Automation, Remote Control Tools

N-able Technologies launched the latest version of its RMM and service automation platform Tuesday, N-central 9.0, for managed solution providers.

The new version offers an enhanced technicians' "runbook" of designs, new remote control capabilities and a new automation manager that should make N-able partners very happy, said Gavin Garbutt, CEO of N-able.

"It's wildly sophisticated but simple. We used the 'Keep It Simple Stupid' philosophy. We've had techs using, and they've been so excited," Garbutt said.

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N-central 9.0 is N-able's first upgrade since April's release of 8.2 and its biggest upgrade since 8.0 was released in May 2011.

The new Automation Manager is a drag-and-drop tool that automates best practices captured in N-able's MSP Technician Runbook, which provides hundreds of pre-tested automation processes and policies for numerous IT maintenance, remediation and diagnostics functions.

Automation Manager should allow junior technicians to perform what were more complex script-writing and management functions formerly assigned to senior technicians. Now those senior technicians are freed from more administrative duties, Garbutt said.

"It really is a cool tool, and it's something the business owners have wanted," Garbutt said. "They've never been able to get their techs [to work] in a standardized fashion. It causes chaos when someone goes on holiday or leave. Now, they have a solution to standardize service delivery."

The drag-and-drop tool can perform automatic service functions by device class, by customer and across all customers, as well as other highly customizable tasks, Garbutt said.

"You can say for all Exchange 2003 servers, perform this check, update these patches. If backups did not happen, you can do as much by running that particular task at this service level," Garbutt said. "The whole point is if you have a reactive customer and a notification comes in, you can have a very junior technician drag the automation policies into place in order to fix it."

N-Central 9.0 will allow Cohn Consulting, an Atlanta-based MSP, to be more consistent in how it delivers services, said Jon Czerwinski, vice president and COO, who has been beta testing 9.0 for a couple months.

"Up until now, we had been very checklist driven, still relying on people to follow checklists and do it according to our process. Now, 9.0 puts the process in place, verifies it's happening and that it's going to happen every time," Czerwinski said.

NEXT: Remote Control Manager Features

Robert Grapes, director of product management and marketing at N-able, noted that previous visual basic scripts could be "lengthy lists of gobbledygook," but unfortunately they had to be maintained in order to ensure service quality. Now those scripts can be written or updated in minutes with Automation Manager's user interface.

"It's like when you're using a blank canvas in PowerPoint, and you drag items to it. It takes away the underlying complexity of the system by the user," Grapes said. "You filter automation policies, and N-able will deliver best practice standards-based policies that are made available right out of the box through our Runbook."

Meanwhile, N-central 9.0 also features a new Remote Control Manager that allows MSPs to remotely access attended and unattended devices through NTRglobal's cloud-based technology, according to N-able. The management console includes backup and recovery, endpoint security, antispam, audit, NetFlow, GPO and policy management tools.

"From a management and reporting perspective, it offers MSPs an incredibly cost-effective solution. It's so cost effective that the unattended [functionality] is a 'freemium' application for all existing partners," N-able's Garbutt said. The value of Remote Control Manager is about $10,000 per partner, Garbutt added.