RMM software (remote monitoring and management software) is a type of application that IT service providers use to maintain their clients' IT infrastructure and systems. The software is a cornerstone application for managed services providers (MSPs), in particular, whose business model is based on the ability to deliver services remotely. RMM software products provide the mechanism for doing that.
An RMM platform is one of several IT management and business operations products a channel partner might use to run its business.
A number of vendors target channel partners with RMM software products. Some are stand-alone products, but vendors also offer remote monitoring and management software as part of a broader, integrated package of offerings for automating a channel partner business.
Functions of remote monitoring and management
RMM software products can offer various tools but have two main functions. RMM software enables service companies to keep tabs on their clients' IT systems, including servers, desktops, applications and mobile devices, by supplying performance data and other reports that service technicians can review. Service providers can also execute management tasks, such as patching, updates and service configurations, on the client's systems. Both of these functions can be done remotely rather than on-site, which is an important benefit to service businesses.
To connect RMM software to a client's systems, a service provider must install agent software on the client's servers, desktops and mobile devices. The agent's job is to collect data on the monitored device's health and status and then report that information to the RMM product's portal, dashboard or console, through which the MSP can observe and manage the client's systems.
RMM software vendors' management consoles aim to provide a single-pane-of-glass view of the IT service company's portfolio of clients. This centralized console can also display details like the number of client devices and cloud services, as well as open help desk tickets and alert tickets for each customer.
Typically, RMM software will automatically detect devices on client networks. Once devices are discovered, the software can automatically perform onboarding and configuration tasks for the new devices.
RMM software agents, however, usually can't be installed on devices lacking an operating system (OS) -- switches and routers, for example. In those cases, RMM software vendors may offer network management capabilities that enable device management via the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).
RMM software is central to running an MSP business because it enables service providers to keep labor costs down and operate efficiently. Furthermore, since MSPs can serve their clients remotely, they can reduce the amount of time they would otherwise spend visiting customer sites.
Some RMM products may also be used to automate otherwise manual processes, providing an additional efficiency boost. RMM tools may offer prepackaged automations, such as run check disk, and provide the ability to create customer scripts to automate tasks. Automation and scripts can address IT infrastructure issues before clients become aware of them, enabling MSPs to offer customers proactive maintenance.
In addition, MSPs can also use RMM software to acquire and manage clients that are located outside of their local markets.
A variety of vendors offer remote monitoring and management software. A 2017 survey from managed services pioneer Karl Palachuk identified five companies as RMM market share leaders: Autotask (acquired by Datto Inc.), Continuum Managed Services LLC, Kaseya Ltd., ConnectWise Automate and SolarWinds MSP.
Other RMM software providers include Atera, Avast Software Inc., CA Technologies, Comodo Group Inc., Naverisk Software, NinjaRMM and Pulseway.
RMM software products can come with numerous features and typically integrate with a range of third-party products, including professional services automation (PSA) software, backup and disaster recovery (DR) software, and security products.
Vendors such as Atera, ConnectWise, Datto and Kaseya offer integrated product suites that include RMM software, PSA, remote control software and, in some cases, backup technology.