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mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Hey guys!

I've been doing some research over the last several weeks, poking around in threads on tons of forums, signing up for trials, and basically doing due diligence on remote monitoring and management software for managed service providers.

I have a small IT consulting business that I've built up over the last year or so. It started as a part-time supplement to my full time job, and thanks to an awesome employer, I was allowed to work 100% from home in order to focus more on developing my company.

My average client is about an 8 computer site - I have everything from dentist's offices to management consulting firms. Most of the work I do is stuff like manage small servers, do oncall support, coordinate office moves, work on minor database projects, etc.

In any case, that's not really important - what is important is that I'm moving from more of the break-fix model of business I started out with, to developing a MSP 'product' I can sell to clients - which should theoretically help lower their costs, and make my work more predictable. To really deliver on what I promise with this sort of thing, I'm gonna need to move from a simple vnc/logmein/teamviewer type of model, to probably something SaaS based, yet hopefully quite affordable.

So far, I've looked at : Logmein Rescue, Kaseya, Nagios, Spiceworks, LabTech, GFI RemoteMAX, n-able - and am feeling a little bleh. So far, most everything doesn't really look like a great fit except Kaseya and GFI - I really like that both of them have integrated antivirus offerings as an option - but Kaseya is too expensive when I do the math, which I guess just leaves GFI. So, I guess I'm wondering if anyone has any experience working with GFI Max, or might know of any similar software I'm leaving out of my due diligence process.

Things I like about GFI Max :
  • Straightforward, Intuitive Interface
  • Integrated AV (Vipre, as I understand)
  • Easy scripting based on groups or types of machine
  • Easy to roll out to an entire site using group policy - it's a built in option
  • Cheap (basically $13/mo per server, $1/mo per client machine. + extra $1/mo if you want AV - This is basically the price point I'd like to hit ideally)

Things I don't like about GFI Max :
  • Very unpolished use of teamviewer - I like and sometimes use teamviewer, but the way you remote control machines basically feels like it was functionality hacked in to GFI after the fact - and is a bit obtrusive to the user as far as branding/professionalism goes.
  • Relatively unpolished interface : although it's straightforward, it doesn't feel very well put together, and I feel like it's missing some key data by default
  • No built in way to remotely support machines without remote desktoping in - it'd be nice to be able to do stuff like run stuff on a command line, view current processes, upload/download files, etc - without disturbing the user

In any case, what are your experiences working with this sort of thing? Is it worth it to up my budget and try to afford something like Kaseya? Are there other alternatives to my current list of software? War stories from the NOCs of other SMB MSPs? Do you like gummi worms? Did your cat just do something hilarious?

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mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Yeah, when I said Kaseya looked attractive, it was mainly just because it looked capable, the remote control was integrated well, and it had the antivirus thing. I actually didn't spend too much time with the product because the loving sales person never got back to me (not a good sign) - like, she'd send me an automated mail like "Hi! my name is blah blah blah, please let me know if you have any questions!" and I replied with a long list of questions, and then like a week later I just got the same form letter like "Hi, I see you haven't really been using your Kaseya trial - please let me know if you have any questions" - replied to that and still haven't heard back.

Ohwell, fuckem - I just get a bad feeling from their webpage, and I know a couple of my more incompetent 'competitors' here in Atlanta use them - would like to differentiate myself anyways. And did I mention they're goddamn expensive?

I really liked the look of LabTech - the fact that it was more an application and less a web based thing. I like the idea of the interface looking much better and being much sleeker, as well as the response time naturally being quicker since it's a local thing. The three things immediately turning me off from it are A. it needs a server, B. it looks more powerful, but less intuitive, and C. didn't see any mention of it either including any antivirus product, or even supporting 3rd party ones in any sort of integrated way. I also asked them for a price breakdown and haven't heard back - so... I dunno if it's more or less cost effective than GFI, which would be a major factor for my small operation.

I have it installed on my server, but truth be told I was sort of thinking about ditching my in house server, or at least relegating the things it was responsible for - not upping the ante and basing my entire MSP thing off it. Not that that's a deal breaker - just a thought.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Idimmu posted:

dumb question, whats an MSP?

Sorry, I used the full words in my first paragraph, but didn't spell out it was what MSP stood for. Managed Service Provider. Basically outsourced IT, for small to mid size businesses that can't or don't want to afford in house technical staff.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Saliva posted:

I work for a small MSP and we use a combination of VNC/Teamviewer for remote access, plus a combination of DeepMeterix IP Monitor and PRTG for monitoring. The battle between IPmon and PRTG is contentious in my office, IPMon has always been great providing consistent results for us but it lacks the functionality we're looking for that we have with PRTG.

That's interesting, thanks for sharing. I've often wondered how many MSPs (like myself as it stands) just come up with their own monitoring stuff via open source programs. What all do you use PRTG to do?

In the end, patch management and the like is too big of a deal for me to just go with a network monitoring tool, but still glad to hear from other people in my shoes.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Regex posted:

Have you considered an outsourced SaaS provider? There's quite a few companies that offer patch management, a centralized management/login portal, antivirus, etc.

I've used Zenith Infotech (http://www.zenithinfotech.com/) before - a pretty standard Indian MSP company. There's a few like them, but that's the only one I have experience with.

They whitelist and push out patches, have a scripting interface, you can push out agents from a central location, etc. It includes a license to Vipre, remote access is LogMeIn, all that good stuff. You can schedule alerts, and have them call you if a server goes down or whatever. It's all white label, too - so you can rebrand it with your logo/name.

Quality can be a little spotty (likely because it's cheap) - probably one in twenty agents have to be manually fixed, and it can take them 15 minutes to call about a server down, but it works okay for most things. YMMV.

A larger MSP will outgrow them pretty fast, but it's a decent way to get started until you've grown large enough to put together something custom.

Cool, no I haven't really considered this much. I know a few of the providers I've looked at offer this sort of thing, but it always just seemed a little shady to me. How is their support, other than the small lagtimes, etc? I've actually had clients who have had outsourced support like this (mostly for very specific applications, like strange proprietary healthcare software), and they all just are constantly banging their head against a wall while dealing with some dude in India. I'm not sure that's what I wanna offer people paying me good money, but if it's fairly unobtrusive and cheap, it might be worth considering I guess?

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Well, I've added Naverisk and Centrastage to my list and scratched them off. Naverisk is too expensive. Centrastage looked loving amazing : really nice interface and displayed all the system info I would expect, but their automated task thing is a nightmare to figure out. You have to 'buy' task packages (like "reboot this computer into safe mode!") that don't cost any money? and then apply task packages to computers or something I don't know it made 0 sense which was a shame.



The more I look at other packages the more I keep on coming back to clunky old GFI Max in all its horrible UI glory. It seems to have everything I want to do, and maybe not be the most eloquent at getting it done, but... feature wise I think it's pretty much all there.

Still interested in hearing more from other IT shops though, thanks for all your guys replies thusfar.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


NotWearingPants posted:

Vipre was one of the things that turned me off when I looked at Zenith Infotech. Why are they including a crappy anti-virus that nobody's ever heard of and that sounds like a car alarm manufacturer?

Packaged anti-virus in general turns me off from MSP software providers, just like the crappy managed McAfee helped turn me off from Sonicwall years ago. I want to be able to tell my clients I am providing them with what I think is the best anti-virus solution, not some add-on crap that's included in a package deal.

Yeah, I agree about the Vipre thing. It just sounds gay, and the client is pretty shady. Systray icon pops up and the window just says "Managed Antivirus!" I swear if I saw it on a computer where I didn't already know what it was, I'd think it was one of those fake AV products.

To be fair though, I have a repository of viruses, and I threw a couple of them at Vipre in a VM. It found all of them, but they were pretty blatant like trojans etc. No idea how it fares in the real world.

I'd kill for one of these that implemented MSE - I know GFI supports it (why am I starting to sound like a walking talking advert for gfi?) so I'll probably just end up scripting the MSE install out and using it as a policy for all desktops.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


You guys who have used Vipre - I'm having a bit of trouble with GFI's client. On about 1/5th of the machine's I've deployed it to, it just seems not to be installing. Anyone had any problems with that?

Thanks again for all the replies thusfar, I'm still a bit annoyed I haven't found anything more suitable than GFI - the more I use it the less I'm convinced that's even the best option.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


weeks later, still sort of disappointed, and just sort of beginning to accept that even if nothing out there can even do what I want (I'm not even sure what I want a MSP package to do any longer, that's how ridiculous this search has gotten), at least GFI is cheap enough to where if I dump it 6 months out, it shouldn't be the end of the world.

A horrible way to make a business decision, but I just don't know what else to do. I've logged probably 40-50 hours researching this poo poo at this point.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


thanks for the encouragement everyone. I was about to just sign the GFI service agreement (still might) but I decided to check this thread first, and think I'll do some more looking. I didn't really give labtech enough of a chance, and hearing it's getting NOD32 is a huge deal to me - it's the one antivirus I really like.

studebaker - I'd love to chat some time. I haven't really met anyone else in my line of work recently, it'd be fun to shoot the poo poo and hear a little about why you went with kaseya.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Just thought I'd post an update, since I'm still interested in hearing from others doing the same thing.

I went with GFI Max, and though it's not nearly as polished or capable as I'd like, it's sort of cheap, and gets the job done. I have set all sorts of alerts, automated stuff I used to do manually, etc, etc. Still though there's about a billion things missing from it. :/ is a system-idle time counter too much to ask for? it'd be nice to know if my clients are using their computers before I jump on their system with a giant non-branded very indiscreet 'TEAMVIEWER' systray popup.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


I sort of wanted to bump this, just because I continue to really be interested in the topic, and hope to maybe catch some new people.

But, I have an additional question, also along the MSP line : do any of you guys or your companies make any money off of reselling virtualized services? IE, 'cloud' exchange servers, sharepoint, webhosting, etc.

I don't know if I'm doing it wrong, but most of my clients are smart enough to do a cursory google search for like, 'hosted exchange' and see that the going rate is like 7-20$/mailbox. if I were to turn around and resell a hosted service to them at any price point that made sense for me (maybe $350 for a "10 mailbox virtual exchange server" and then bill hourly to support it), I feel like they'd be like 'what.'

as a consequence (and this is the same for web hosting, or anything else really that my clients already do in-house and I support) I feel sort of ... obligated? inclined? not to suggest companies I do work for move to virtualized services, even though it'd be much more cost effective for them to do so. just to throw it all out there, I bill 300-500/mo for server maintenance, monitoring, remote support, etc.

I mean there are really good reasons to not use virtual servers, but most of those reasons don't apply to the typical 2-10 person companies I support.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Ein posted:

Also, we don't make any money on reselling services like hosted exchange or any hosted services really. We just recommend different providers to the customer and they make their own choice. The time it takes to talk them through all that at their office if, of course, billable.

yeah, that's basically where I'm at. the margins are so slim on reselling stuff that I just explicitly state in my service agreements 'I sell all 3rd party services at cost to pass the savings on, I bill only for my time, blah blah.' seems to work ok I guess, since half an hour of billable time is usually 4x what I could make off resold cloud poo poo. blah. same goes for hardware - messing with sales tax and wholesale accounts nets so little money it just doesn't seem worth it - but I just feel like I could somehow be doing better there.


Maniaman posted:

Hosting's not as big of a deal. We usually bundle hosting with website maintenance and then just use our server. It's much easier that way, and it's one less thing for them to worry about. (Maintenance is more expensive if they don't use our hosting)

just out of curiosity, and if you don't mind my asking - how do you present the 'maintenance being cheaper with our hosting' thing to your clients in a positive light? I'm redrafting all my service agreements and products in 2012, and that's one thing I've been sort of wanting to do. like, make service hours more expensive if the customer isn't on a contract, or like you say, make web maintenance more expensive if not on our hosting, etc. But, I'm a little worried my clients will poo poo bricks - or at very least I'll ruffle some feathers when in the end it might just be a marginal increase in revenue.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Trinitrotoluene posted:

So I received some pricing from GFI but I don't think I can justify the granularity of the costs.

The pricing is per server per module (test). Some are worth it (Backup check) but others aren't (I'm not paying 0.50p a month per server for a "ping test"). I am seriously tempted to write a basic agent/server in VB and just test it myself.

don't look at it that way. just assume you'll use everything, and price it at the cap. $13.95/mo for servers, $1/mo per workstation, and $1/mo per machine that uses their AV product.

13.95 isn't cheap for servers, but $1 per workstation is cheap, and $1 for an antivirus product that works on servers is also pretty good.

edit :unless they gave you vastly different pricing than what I'm getting... :/

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Feb 14, 2012 around 17:44

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Maniaman posted:

How do you have your service agreements structured if you don't mind telling?

I charge per workstation and per server. I'm gonna be vague about my pricing because I haven't finalized it yet for all my clients, but usually I charge several hundred a month per server, which includes 'network support' (ie routers, telco vendor, etc) and then around $40-80 per workstation per month. This includes unlimited business hours remote support, and they pay per hour if I have to come on site.

I'm flexible about my terms though - I have one client who didn't want to pay per workstation, so I instead gave them a set price (similar to what they would have been paying for their 9 workstations), but instead just gave them the same unlimited support, and X hours of onsite support. hardly any difference in my mind, but in theirs, I think they just wanted it on their own terms.


St0rmD posted:

You could, and in 5 years you might have a web site that does half of what a GFI or Continuum (formerly Zenith Infotech) does, half as well, with less support. Instead of thinking "I could get a full-time programmer and a cheap tech for this", think "I'm getting a whole team of programmers who have already built the application and are in support mode, and a whole NOC staff for this"

Also, why aren't you just factoring the cost of your monitoring platform into your pricing and passing it along to the client the way every other MSP does?

A. you don't get a NOC staff
B. I hate the argument 'why don't you just factor in the cost?'. I mean, of course you factor in the cost! no one ever doesn't factor in the cost - but it doesn't matter when you get to the bottom line.

with the average small business client though, there's X amount in their mind that they're comfortable paying per month for IT support. Could be $300, could be $1500, who knows. But that budgeted amount exists. As a support company, its your job to figure out and skate around that budget. The cost of your MSP software is going to be the same to you for any client you take on, no matter what. So, the more the MSP software costs you, the less profit you can make off selling a managed solution to your client. The client gives two rats asses if your invoice says $500, managed server & workstation support, or $200 - GFI fees and $300 IT Company Support fees. They just care that their bill for IT is $500.



granted, to your point StormD, I think GFI is cheap, and it shouldn't matter how many servers and workstations you put it on, so long as you're charging per workstation per month. With my pricing model and the numbers trinitrotoluene provided, I'd be taking in about $130-165,000/mo, with GFI costing me $3600-4750/mo. I mean hell, hire the programmer and low level tech, and keep GFI too, with those profit margins!





edit: $130k/mo... god, I need to pick up some new clients

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2012 around 18:39

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


KuroKisei posted:

I'm in the same sort of boat here as mindphlux was to begin with.

My question is, how do the people that mentioned they switched to Labtech earlier find it when using a local server and what do you think of it now? Do you regret leaving Kaseya? Or are there any new contenders in the market that are worth looking at?

Labtech requires (pretty much) dedicated servers though, right? I guess this isn't really a downside given the shitstorm of uncooperative tech you're dealing with now, but is this at all a concern to you?

sanchez posted:

Zenith, now continuum will do what you want as far as remote access and alerts/monitoring go. It's fairly clunky too but very powerful once you figure it out for scripting/deploying software and patches. They use logmein components for desktop access.

We reviewed Kaseya recently and were unimpressed. The remote desktop access was slow, the sales guy was an idiot and the whole product didn't seem very polished.

Agree about Kaseya - the price isn't an inherent turn-off so long as it's polished as gently caress and works exactly how you'd want it to - but kaseya seemed downright horrible.

so, someone earlier in this thread was talking about zenith/continuum offering outsourced NOC stuff - do you use that? is it mandatory? I can't really get over the idea of some random tech of an unknown skill level touching the servers/workstations of my clients. I didn't know they used logmein for their remote access though, that's a huge plus. I absolutely adore logmein, I just wish their 'central' product was more like a RMM MSP tool, and less like a tool to aid inhouse IT teams.

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Mar 19, 2012 around 07:28

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


sanchez posted:

You don't have to use it at all.

I guess I should at least get a continuum demo... I read back over this entire thread and actually none of the people who use it seem to be complaining. What's the pricing like? Done per seat? Just curious to get some real life numbers to compare to what they quote me...

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Well, I was quoted a baseline of $4/ per workstation and 15-20 per server, depending.

that's about 4x what I'm paying per workstation right now, I'm not sure if that's a worthwhile leap to make.

a lot of my clients use logmein on their machines, and having to tell them they they'd have to give it up might be a bit of a problem. Also, I'm not 100% sold on this whole NOC thing, but I've been told the $4/workstation includes "proactive NOC services", and that there is no way to separate that out.

guess I'll try the demo next week...

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Temiko posted:

I'd certainly be interested in a detailed comparison if you can find the time.

We're not an MSP but have about 150 computers at over twenty small offices on isolated networks that I manage alone, so an agent-based system like Labtech (or Continuum if they'll sell it to us) that is an all-in-one solution to centralize management/support and automate processes is very appealing to me. Right now I just use LogMeIn Pro and almost everything else is done manually (inventory, updates, etc).

With that said, I have a general question: Since I'm an IT department rather than an MSP, would you guys recommend looking at any particular product over the others?

If I were a IT department rather than having to deal with multiple clients/sites, I'd probably just use a single seat of logmein rescue, or if I were on a budget, logmein free and spiceworks/thedude? I guess?


I'd be interested in temiko's comparison of labtech vs kaseya if he ever has time to write it up, sounds like an excellent read.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


alright, I'm officially loving done with GFI. At this point, I hardly even ever use it for the clients I have it deployed to, despite paying a bucketload of money a month - for the following reasons :


  • the monitoring software has caused at least two systems to memory leak / BSOD, which I've gotten angry calls about - even though I have the systems set to reboot after a BSOD, for whatever reason they don't, and aren't remote accessible until someone onsite resets the machines.
  • monitoring is useless - things like "hacker check" report thousands of false positive CRITICAL ERROR events, while things like "event log monitoring" fail to catch drive access errors that would indicate an impending HDD fail.
  • remote access loving sucks - it's all done via teamviewer, which I'm officially also fed up with. it doesn't work half the time, and when it does - I don't want my remote access thing to pop up with TEAMVIEWER.COM every time I remote in to a client computer. I want it to be <my company name here> - or at very least a neutral nondescript thing.
  • patch management is completely lol. I get weekly error messages like WSUS has X number of client computers missing Y number of critial updates!!! (all having been installed with GFI's management software, set to update patches on workstations daily.). Also, I'll log on to servers and find that critical patches haven't been applied, despite the fact that I have it set in GFI to apply all critical level patches and reboot servers if necessary every Sunday morning at 2am.
  • a million other tiny details to do with reporting and things generally not working as they should, also I've outlined all these problems on their 'ideas'/support site, and noone has ever given me the time of day.

bleh. continuum is at the top of my list for replacement vendors (though 3-4x as expensive), but just wanted to bump this thread to continue to get feedback from you all.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


vty posted:

If any of you are using Connectwise I'd suggest you contact me immediately. I've been auditing the software for the first time after a recent "invoices are viewable!" issue was discovered and that isn't even half of the concern. Software like this is specifically why I despise working in Windows environments where "admins" just click next>next> to get things configured, aren't actual system designers and never perform audits (I walked into using CW). And that's the prime environment for Connectwise users (small tech shops).

I'm on freenode as vty.

hey, I'm sort of interested, but don't use connectwise. was debating it vs autotask, but came to the conclusion that neither brought enough value to my small shop to be worth the price. still though - are you talking about the connectwise 'cloud' version, or the onsite? etc? sounds like some pretty serious vulnerabilities...

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


hey guys, would anyone be interested in having either a online groupchat meeting or just an e-mail exchange to discuss your MSP's service offerings? or just sending me a brochure/pdf/whatever of your service levels (and pricing structure if you're willing to discuss specifics)

I've been offering MSP type services to about 20-25 clients for almost 2 years now, but have never really formally set my pricing structure or advertised or anything. my levels really vary by what each company needs, and is willing to pay, but I need to get away from that. I'm about to start work on rigidly "productizing" my services just to make billing and poo poo easier on myself, but I'd love to hear what is working for some of you guys (and your companies), as well as share what has been working for me market wise. I really have no bones about sharing any and all information, I doubt any of you guys are local competitors, and even if you were, I still don't think I'd care!

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Studebaker Hawk posted:

This is insane. Get a real RMM, automate and do things properly.

yeah, I mean - by all means it's admirable that you've put together a set of tools, but my head hurts thinking about trying to use teamviewer without GFI's tools. I hate teamviewer enough as it is!

I'm guessing this is a single company's IT department, and not a MSP you work for? because I think my head would just explode if you're a MSP.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


So, in other news, I'm liking the Continuum demo thus far. Some of the script stuff that is just built in is blowing my mind with how easy it is. I was mulling over buying some automated install product and writing scripts to do things like install MWBAM on computers to use with GFI Max - but with the realtime script execution in Continuum it's like BAM. Already got the script, and by the way we installed MWBAM on your client desktop 5 minutes ago.

There are parts I don't like as much, like the UI and having to use IE, but I think I might be able to get over it. It's probably worth the higher cost vs GFI too. I mean I'm billing enough, I should probably just not be cheap and man up to the plate.

I'm about to pull the plug on my internet connection and see how fast they call me letting me know my server is down. ^_^

edit : 25 minutes before an unintelligible and breaking up over VoIP guy from India gave me a rang. v_v

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Jul 13, 2012 around 21:04

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


tuned414 posted:

mindphlux,

I too am an IT consultant looking for an RMM system. I paid the $10 just so I could post and follow-up with you...

Did you purchase Continuum and are you actively using it? If not, what are you currently using?

I'm using it on a trial basis, paying for it just on a single client site right now. I like it well enough, but am really hesitant to go full throttle, because I have a ton of computers on my logmein free account that I'd have to commit to throwing a continuum agent on (and thus losing access to on my LMI free account).

The biggest last hurdle for me is the lack of logmein ignition app for continuum, as I remote in to computers pretty regularly from my android phone. They just released an iOS ignition app last week, but nothing yet for android. once they do though, I think I've decided to move all my clients over - I think the value I'm getting vs GFI is probably worth it.

St0rmD posted:

We have continuum and other than for a few specific functions that only seem to work in ie, I use chrome to access it almost all the time.

yeah, I think there was some specific issue with the dashboard not functioning properly under anything but IE - but it was brought up and resolved. I'm using firefox most of the time to access it, and it works fine now.

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Sep 30, 2012 around 09:18

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Stugazi posted:

I own an MSP in San Diego. Our nine year anniversary is in March. We've gone through a lot of ups and downs.

We use Kaseya. I estimate we paid them ~$70k before ending our subscription. We looked at renewing but they are so scummy I decided to pass. Powerful product, horrible customer relationship management. On the bright side the agents we have we actually own so we still use Kaseya but when Windows8 becomes popular we'll likely need to update our RMM.

We used ConnectWise but no longer. They do a great job but the Server/Client got so bulky and slow that we moved to Zendesk, Freshbooks and Solve360. If you have ConnectWise go to the summit and do their educational stuff. I found it valuable but maybe less so now that EVERYONE is following the same game plan and delivering the same services via the same tools. Leads to commoditization and lower margins if your customer presentation is almost word for word match with your competitors.

We looked at GFI. It had a lot of promise but wasn't quite ready for primetime for us. Simple things like scheduling a reboot were a big deal. Hopefully it's changed.

To address your GFI concern - no, it hasn't changed. It's not ready for primetime for me, and I'm probably under 1/10th your size if you were paying Kaseya 70k.

But this is a great segue into a topic I was going to post today. And I'd love to talk with you more personally if you have any interest in chatting a bit.

I keep on thinking about using autotask, but it's just so expensive for what it is. What do you all (the thread at large) use for CRM/billing/accounting? I just use quickbooks/toggl/zendesk right now, and each thing does its task ok, it just sucks the amount of manual entry and figuring stuff out come invoice time every month.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


vty posted:

I assumed that it simply didn't have this feature, but I found a press release at some point that specifically says it has SMS text messaging for alerts.

Anyone?

yeah I think they just introduced this, I've played around with it, but so far haven't gotten it to work.

I'm a little discouraged because I've been using continuum basically the same way you are - a server alert tool, and I've been letting their NOC do proactive poo poo to my server just to try them out. Desktops are being patched on a weekly basis and the logmein pro is nice but...

Every time I go in to do something like 'update approved patches on all machines on a site, then reboot', I end up spending like 45 minutes trying to figure it out, get frustrated, and then just do it manually using logmein.

The scheduled updates feature seems to work ok, and I spent a lot of time customizing the escalation templates - it's just a lot of simple stuff seems more complicated than it needs to be. I might just need to spend more time with the product or do tutorials - but it's hard to motivate myself to do that when the things I'm trying to do don't seem like they should need tutorials.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Trinitrotoluene posted:

What's the pricing like on continuum? Any rough guide?

$4/client which includes antivirus, malwarebytes pro, and logmeinpro. not horrible considering logmein pro is expensive as gently caress itself - but too expensive for me still. GFI is $1 a client w/o antivirus, or $2 with.

Servers are like $13 with GFI, which doesn't include any extras, and like $15-20 for continuum, which includes their proactive 'critical alert' poo poo. Basically if an exchange store or something shits bricks or a server goes offline, some dude in india will do his best to log in and fix the problem, or give you a call after ~30 mins.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


vty posted:

Yeah seriously.

Simple example- Something as simple as setting up "QUICK Suppressions" is a damned pain. Not only do you have to ALWAYS set the timezone, you have to manually enter in times and it will NOT allow you to set a time in the past, as in, if it's 5:13 right now my suppression can't be 5:00, or 5:12. Probably not even 5:13. It has to be 5:14+.

I won't even get into the Escalation Templates. There's NO way to set layered triggers.. as in, if this server generates an alert, test again in 3-5-10 minute intervals and at minute 5 send an email, minute 10 send a text/call. It's way too basic.

Stupid, stupid UI.

thanks, glad to hear someone else say it. I thought I was just being lazy and/or stupid. but yeah it's pretty horrible. have you found anything better?


edit : maybe I should just go into the MSP vendor business, hire some people, and make a goddamn tool myself. it can't honestly be *that* hard, can it?

I guess I feel this way about tons of products though :/

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Nov 4, 2012 around 05:02

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


vty posted:

No I really haven't looked for anything better. I rolled out N-Able years ago (geez, like 2005) and it was pretty awful as well.

I still haven't figured out how to SMS text message via SAAZ!

I swear, between Connectwise and SAAZ I'm tempted to go back into the hosting business.

How is everyone's year going? We hit 1MM rev! Growth has been slow though, I really need to make some connections.

mine is going pretty well, I'm getting close to 100k revenue, which I think is pretty decent for basically my second year doing this, and about a 2x growth for me. hopefully 2013 will be the year of hiring someone and ramping this on up!

if only I had a decent tool to do it with


thanks stugazi for reminding me I should be using webapps. I got unlazy and set up zendesk, which seems pretty worthwhile. but, inadvertently when I was researching zendesk, I came across Harvest, a time tracking app.

my god.

I had been using toggl, which I loved, but toggl didn't integrate with any bookkeeping system really. Harvest not only integrates with Quickbooks, Freshbooks, etc - it integrates with Zendesk, works as well as toggl, and does invoices/billable hours! and integrates with credit card APIs like Stripe, which I already have set up for my web hosting side of the business. AND its invoices look great! AND it will automatically e-mail them, let you track when they get paid, and follow up with reminders as specified intervals.

my god. I just saved myself an ungodly amount of time every billing cycle - a number which grows by like 15-30 minutes with each new client I get.

only downside is that Harvest can't export invoices to quickbooks, so I'm stuck re-categorizing my deposits after they hit my account I think - but still. pretty neat app, and very reasonably priced.



PS - I'm about to begin actually advertising my MSP offerings in a product form, working up a physical brochure to explain pricing, etc - in anticipation of being able to hire someone next year. Had just been going on word of mouth, but just need a little boost to help me finance things going forward. Would love to hear any stories anyone has to share about growing their business past the 1-2 person team level. Marketing and branding are kind of tough areas for me in particular, but I feel like it's gonna be a pretty big leap for me... in a good way I guess!

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Dec 13, 2012 around 02:16

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


don't pick GFI. at this point, even though I'm not convinced I really like continuum, it just does so much more poo poo than GFI that I wonder how I ever really used GFI effectively. and then I realized that I didn't.

I logged on to GFI the other day (for the first time in 3-4 months) to do some support work for a system I still had on the product, and I was pretty floored by the difference/lack of features. I installed continuum's agent on all my remaining machines, and now have it on my todo list to call GFI and cancel my account.

but really, don't take this as any sort of broad endorsement of continuum - I'd ditch them too if I had any decent alternative.

man, sometimes I feel like I should just stop everything, get a small loan, and make my own MSP software. :<

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


sanchez posted:

I find takecontrol to be reliable but still inferior to logmein as far as performance goes. It is much better than VNC.

Logmein is the main reason I prefer continuum over any other RMM solution we've tested, you just need enough servers to get the price break. Once we get there I think we'll switch from GFI.

yeah, I agree with this 2000%.

Teamviewer wasn't 100% with GFI, and that for me was unacceptable. Before I had any RMM software, I used logmein (free) ignition a lot when on the road from an ipad/phone, so not having easy access to machines via mobile was a huge deal. I also had cases where teamviewer would stop working on a machine for no reason, and require me to go onsite or use another remote access program to un/reinstall it. I posted long idea threads on GFI's ideaboard, and they were summarily ignored.

Continuum's implementation of ignition isn't perfect (they only have a iphone/pad client, no android yet), but it's a million times better than teamviewer. If it's worth the $3.50-$4/workstation, I'm not sure, but I'm paying it anyways for the time being.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


bimmian posted:

I'm currently demoing N-able and Labtech, we don't use anything but logmein free here at the moment. I just started here and took over managing the tech/MSP side of the business, so there are lots of areas to improve.


My thoughts...


Thanks for the write up, I enjoyed reading it. N-Able and Labtech were two that I just didn't even get that far into demoing because they were wanting contracts and larger volumes of machines than the ~40-50 I'm dealing with.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


unknown posted:

Tiny thread hijack, but people here would know - I've gotten into the consulting situation where I'm now having to track a lot of general systems/network details on various clients. I don't really want to get into the full on MSP type of work of managing individual computers.

I'm currently storing things (maps, documents, etc) in a wiki, but I'm wondering if there are better apps for doing that, since it's really easy to have the data get unstructured very quickly - especially if multiple people are updating it.

I used OneNote to good effect in the 2007 / 2010 versions, but the 2013 version completely sucks layout wise. Switched to evernote. Just my 2 cents. All client files (documents, scripts, contracts, invoices etc) are on a SBS server with redirected folders and a VPN. Box would work equally well.

I'm sure there are probably CRMs out there that do a better job organizationally, but I haven't found them yet.

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


bimmian posted:

Biggest issue with N-able is quite an important one- remote connectivity. They use a third party solution called Direct Connect. Along with the Remote Support Manager, it is fantastic when it works, but its success rate is pretty bad. Bad enough that some of my techs have all but given up using it in favor of vnc or just plain rdp. Those options are also built-in though, and it uses ssh tunnels to allow you to rdp to a pc in another environment without having to vpn or go to a server first.

Man, that's crazy. Every time I start thinking to myself 'man, are continuum's licensing fees for desktops really worth it?' I gotta just remind myself of how lovely the remote desktop has been on every other MSP software I've evaluated. Logmein Pro is nice.

(I sort of wish Logmein would just do their own MSP offering already)

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


vty posted:

I'm testing Freshdesk and Zendesk right now and I'm blown away that NEITHER of them make any sort of ajax calls to display new tickets going in/out of a queue.

You have to refresh the page on both systems.

I noticed this too, but it didn't really register to me. I updated a test ticket via e-mail, and was like hummmmm wtf, I have one browser window open where it clearly shows a ticket has been updated, but over here in this other browser window it still says 0 open tickets. so I hit refresh and was like 'oh', and didn't think much more of it.

but yeah in a serious production environment, that is pretty unforgivable.

still, zendesk seems pretty spiffy on all its levels, and I like that their base plan allows you to have 3 agents. now if only I could train my clients to open tickets rather than just e-mail me....

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Powdered Toast Man posted:

Hey mindphlux, check your PM inbox (it's full!); I have something I want to run by you.

sorry, I deleted several pms, it should be open now

Stugazi posted:

Hate to necromance this thread but I don't see a backup thread and we're evaluating cloud backup providers which target the MSP environment.


naw, don't feel bad. honestly MSP software is not really a "hot topic" or anything, so probably a bump every couple months is about right.

I'm really fed up with continuum's (internal) billing system. it's completely separate from their MSP product, and straight out of like 1995 or something. I spent well over an hour just trying to give them some of my money electronically last month before I gave up and mailed them a check at their request. then they e-mailed like 3 days later and said they had successfully charged my VISA..... but..... you guys just told me to mail you a check.

fffffffffffffffff

mindphlux fucked around with this message at Sep 18, 2013 around 06:58

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


ElvisG posted:

I'm curious as to what everyone setup is? The MSP I worked at was mainly a citrix environment. We had companies that were on terminal server and just refused to move over to citrix. We also provided just backup /

Tickets = Connectwise
Monitor = Labtech then Level Platforms
Remote = Bomgar
Anti-virus = Vipre
Malware = D7 "all-in-software" because Vipre was crap
"we made so much money with D7 it was crazy. The software cost $200 and we made at least a grand a month extra for on-site visits with viruses."
Backups = AppAssure "we had a little nas unit on-site" where we pointed the backups
Router = Meraki VPN back to our datacenter
AP = Meraki

am I reading this to see that you used software just to convince people to pay for antivirus removals that probably weren't technically necessary?

am I being too honest a guy here or something? if I find a virus during routine scans, I include it with my invoices on my monthly "work done" report - but otherwise, I just let stuff go until a customer complains. If they complain, I try to resolve remotely. If I can't, *then* I go onsite and charge extra.

my setup is :

Tickets : E-mail / Zendesk
Monitor : Continuum
Time Tracking/Invoicing : Harvest
Accounting : Quickbooks
Remote : Logmein via Continuum, Teamviewer for one-offs
A/V : Vipre/Malwarebytes via Continuum
Backups/Router/AP : left to client - I'll make recommendations and charge for our time with advice and setup - IE if it's a NAS or whatever, but I don't technically make money off reselling backup or equipment. Again, am I being too nice here?

Thanks guys for bumping the thread, I've been wanting to hear more from other guys at MSP shops. I'm almost done with my rebranding efforts, and about to set new price points for my monthly service plans, so I really am interested in other people's business models. I might even post my new service plan pricing sheet in here, since I'm debating making it public on my website anyways. (anyone have thoughts about that?)

mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


Stugazi posted:

You gotta dump quickbooks. Freshbooks is ideal for MSP work. Recurring invoices FTW.

What do you think of Continuum? I am starting to think it sucks rear end.

Quickbooks isn't a huge problem. I do all my time tracking and invoicing through Harvest, and it handles recurring invoices, has a web-payment module (I use stripe), generates pdf invoices, can auto send them, it's great. The only thing Harvest doesn't do is sync my invoices with Quickbooks - so I basically use Harvest as my A/R, and then have to manually double enter/categorize payments when they come in. It takes me maybe 2 hours a month, which is a pain, but not the end of the world. I keep on giving feedback to Harvest that I'd love an invoice sync feature between QB and their platform, in which case all problems would be solved.

I think Continuum is a sack of poo poo, and doesn't really do much for me "proactive" wise (which is how I sell my clients on my services). The Vipre AV is functional though, the NOC does call when servers go down and try to remediate, and I do get logmein pro for all the machines I have on it.

In any case, the $4/mo per workstation over the $2/mo I was paying for GFI (which literally actually did gently caress all, and didn't have logmein) is worth it I guess. I swear though, if logmein ever ups their game and comes out with a cost effective MSP offering (which they seem to be moving towards), I will adopt so fast...

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mindphlux
Jan 8, 2004


I'm curious - do you guys publicly post your MSP's pricing levels - even if just a general guide? I'm finishing up the rebranding of my company (http://www.euclidnet.com), and the pricing section is the last bit I need to decide on.

I'm leaning towards publicly posting my service tiers, just because I'm personally really annoyed when shopping for vendors and all I get is a 'request a followup from a sales guy!' when the company is detailing their product offering.

But, thought I'd ask you guys. If not, I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you don't...

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