RMM Upgrades A Continual Path For Continuum

Continuum got off to a late start when it came to revamping and expanding its RMM platform and expanding its feature list compared to competitors, but the Woburn, Mass.-based company, expects to catch up quickly with regard to mobile device management, help desk support, virtualization security and more, said executives.

CRN's Scott Campbell spoke with Continuum CEO Michael George and Vice President of Marketing Steve Ricketts after the company unveiled its newest help desk service offering to talk about Continuum's growth strategy. Here's what they had to say.

Last March, you talked about being able to monitor and manage "anything that is plugged into the wall in an SMB environment." How close are you to making that happen?

George: It's a little further out, but not a lot. We're on a "forced march" to get to those things. We want to [manage] everything that goes into the wall, into a network. You'll see us broaden the things we support, and the next frontier for us is in VoIP services and print services. We already do some level of this through SNMP [simple network management protocol], but we'll provide more comprehensive control and access through our portal for all these devices. This isn't years away. We chew through this quarter by quarter. We've done a great job achieving parity [against competitors] quickly, and now we're [leading] in areas and will continue to do so.

Sponsored post

You recently came out with support for Apple Mac environment. How has that been received in the market?

Ricketts: That's been received very well. Most of our clients have some Macs, and the ability to provide full endpoint coverage is very important. More recently, with our July 30 release, we've announced mobile support. Now, you access the [RMM] portal from a mobile device, such as an iPhone. You can look at [service] tickets, alerts. You are able to log in through LogMeIn into the end client's computer through the mobile device.

Another key enhancement has been the upgraded anti-malware. We have Vipre and Malwarebytes. Adding Malwarebytes [is] a direct response to some surveys we did of what the preference was for anti-malware and anti-virus software. Malwarebytes was the clear winner. We're excited to be able to offer that at no additional cost. It's included in the cost of a desktop agent. That also includes LogMeIn capability. Today, we're the only ones that offer LogMeIn remote access bundled with an RMM agent. No other RMM provider provides that as part of their software license.

NEXT: Mobile Device Management Coming In addition to being able to use an iPhone or iPad to manage a client's device, when will you be able to manage those mobile devices as well?

Ricketts: Full MDM [mobile device management] support is something we will be delivering the second half, later this year. I don't have any exact time, but we expect late Q3 early Q4 to have that functionality.

George: It would have been easy for us to come up with something of parity that others have in the market today. But, we made a conscious decision not to do that. We wanted to have a meaningful MDM offering that allows you to do more comprehensive provisioning, partial wipes, full wipes, things that no one else is doing today. We are upping the ante. We could come up with something to put a check box on the list but, that's not our style. What you will see from us when we do launch is very comprehensive.

Where does Continuum stand on providing support for virtual environments, including both Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix?

Ricketts: We've got the full VMware support today. So, we're really expanding that into other hypervisor areas, including Citrix Xen. That's something we should have by the end of the year.

From a bigger picture perspective, how many of your partners are providing really full functionality and using most of your products versus just one or two products but not a full, comprehensive solution from Continuum?

Ricketts: Our big philosophy is we want to bundle in premium tools as part of the RMM license. Relative to the applications we've been talking about, whether it's anti-virus, remote access support, it's all part of that. Now we have Continuum Network Detective. Bundling in that premium capability as part of that software license is our philosophy. From that standpoint, that's usually where we start with a client. Typically, we talk to them about our service offerings, and Service Desk is something we usually do right after we onboard them. That's something that we've had good pickup with. We've had a service desk in the market since 2006. That's something a lot of partners don't know, how long we've been in the market with a desktop service [desk] offering. We have well over 10,000 end-user desktops that we support through that offering.

NEXT: MSPs Want NOC Support, Survey Finds With your new Continuum Service Desk offering, are you targeting guys that don't provide any sort of call center solution now, or guys who do it during business hours but want additional help after hours?

George: The answer is all of the above. For people that haven't offered it before, it's a fantastic service that allows them to deepen and further their relationship with end users. For people that are using other vendors for service calls, we show distinct advantages of unifying all aspects of remote monitoring and management under one portal. All the ticketing, alerting, monitoring. Nobody is doing it that comprehensively. We know people provide help desk support, but nobody provides full end-to-end support. We think that will be very exciting for people using somebody just for help desk that's not integrating back [to their own platform]. They're spending lots of time and money transferring things that are not supported into their own PSA or CRM. This is all fully integrated.

For people that don't have an [outsourced] service desk solution, they have to come to the realization that that's a poor use of a skilled, expensive resource [to use an in-house technician].

They'd much rather have that tech doing higher-value work and be out in the field and selling and promoting and dealing with on-premise customer activity. I have a fixed, low-cost comprehensive support to do Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 support and work within my ticketing and CRM system, that's really valuable. That frees me to expand and grow. I can use my technicians in my operation to do more valuable customer touch work while having service desk to answer the phone the way I want to. We can look, sound and feel like them.

Ricketts: If I could add some statistics to this, prior to launch we did a partner survey and asked about the need for an integrated environment. We asked how many provide a service desk now, and 98 percent said they have service desk capability. Of that, 87 percent said they were interested in outsourcing that coverage. The real interesting stat is 43 percent of that 87 percent are interested in [24/7] support, [while another] 31 percent want it for business hours, and the remainder was for after hours.

We also asked what features were critical, nice to have and not needed. For RMM, 57 percent said it was critical, and 63 percent said NOC [support] was critical as part of a service desk. That's our sweet spot. Those [respondents] are looking for an integrated experience.

Those companies offering some service desk, 55 percent are doing it with their internal staff today. Fourteen percent are using an outside vendor, and 28 percent use a combination of internal and outside vendors. They might have some critical clients they handle on their own and for others do third-party support. You look at those numbers, and there's clearly a big opportunity for more MSPs to come to an outside vendor.

NEXT: Continuum Gives Back To Veterans Finally, Continuum plans to give 8 percent of its service desk revenue to charities and organizations that find jobs for veterans. Why is that important to you?

George: We're excited and motivated to do something with a higher purpose, something that is culturally important. It's a culmination of things facing our nation. In our industry, I think there's a disproportionate amount of people in our industry that have served in the service or the National Guard. In our own company, more than 20 percent of our Service Desk employees are veterans. There are more than $1 million veterans returning from the longest two tours of war we've had in the last 10 years, and they're entering the job market [when] the economy is bad. That's a disservice to those people. There's also a benefit [having] these people ... trained in our industry. It serves our industry well, and it's important to help people that sacrificed their lives for people like you and me every day. We've really embraced this.