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LabTech Bolsters Interface, Stages Patching As It Tightens Bond With ConnectWise Suite

LabTech is integrating more comprehensively with ConnectWise's product suite, instituting updates such as staged patch deployment and visible data summarization.

Staged patch deployment and visible data summarization are key updates to LabTech's remote monitoring and management tool as it integrates more comprehensively with ConnectWise's product suite.

Improvements to the Tampa, Fla.-based remote monitoring and management vendor patching capabilities will minimize risks for end users, according to LabTech General Manager Brett Cheloff, by improving integration with third parties such as Adobe, Java and Chrome and allowing managed service providers to gradually roll out patches to clients.

"You can catch an early warning sign before a patch goes into production," Cheloff told CRN. "People were tending to just approve everything and let it go."

[Related: ConnectWise To Bring Four Technologies Together On Single Platform]

LabTech is also rolling out huge improvements to its user interface, in conjunction with its Automation Nation conference in Orlando, that are focused on getting all the meaningful information for technicians onto a single pane of glass, Cheloff said. The adjustments are intended to help MSPs quickly determine what's wrong at a client site without having to click through multiple tabs.

"From a quick glance, they can effectively see everything about the machine," Cheloff said.

This is a vast upgrade over LabTech's previous home screen, he said, which Cheloff described at a "data dump" of voluminous amounts of information about all the services and processes at a client site. This meant that technicians had to manually go through all the event logs and every bit of data to identify or diagnose problems.

Like some competitors, LabTech uses a color coding system, with green signaling satisfactory findings and red signaling unsatisfactory findings. But, Cheloff said, LabTech will go beyond an "eye chart" of colored dots, and instead will offer systematic, summarized data on its main dashboard with easy access to more information about the problem.

LabTech's staged patch deployment process will be similar to how Microsoft handles new releases, Cheloff said, with patches being unrolled in three phases: testing, pilot and production. MSPs will be able to easily select which machines are included in each phase of the rollout, Cheloff said, as well as how long to wait for feedback after the testing and pilot phases.

"The level of ease will enable our partner base to use this staging methodology," said Cheloff, who said MSPs can save themselves hundreds of hours by spotting potentially bad patches early on.

ConnectWise is also working to create a unified framework and interface for all four of its products, Cheloff said: its namesake professional service automation (PSA) tool, ScreenConnect remote connect technology, Quosal quote and proposal tool, and LabTech.

The concept is akin to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint being part of the Microsoft Office suite, Cheloff said, meaning there will be a bar on the left to navigate between programs, all of which will look the same from a design perspective. LabTech also plans to integrate more ConnectWise capabilities into the RMM tool so that technicians can do common PSA actions without ever having to leave LabTech.

"Our products are blurring together," Cheloff said.

The next version of ScreenConnect will have the beginning of the integrated "shell" (ConnectWise's internal name for the unified framework), Cheloff said, while ConnectWise, LabTech and Quosal will provide a progress update on their integration at IT Nation in November.

Liberty Technology has to maintain an older version of Java for one of its clients so that it can run a piece of line-of-business software, according to Ben Johnson, CEO of the Griffin, Ga.-based LabTech partner. For this reason, Johnson was very excited to hear about the improvements LabTech has planned for third-party patching.

"It's been a chink in LabTech's armor," Johnson told CRN. "An easy button for third-party patching will save us a ton of time."

LabTech's commitment to simplify its user interface and movement toward a single pane of glass will save technicians at Liberty Technology time, Johnson said, and enable the solution provider to serve clients faster.

"Any improvements to the interface would be a godsend," Johnson said. "They're grossly overdue."

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