What is RMM?

| By:
Vernon Southmayd

Grasping what RMM is and how to improve it can go a long way toward your efficiency as an MSP. Since your job, as a managed service provider, is to protect and manage the IT systems of various clients, RMM may just be the most critical tool in your toolbelt.

Exactly what is RMM? In short, it’s the technology that makes the work of modern MSPs possible. Read along with us to learn the ins and outs of this technology and how it can improve your MSP business and the lives of your clients.

RMM definition: what is remote monitoring & management?

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is a process designed to help managed IT service providers (MSPs) remotely and proactively monitor client endpoints, networks, and computers. RMM can also be referred to by other names like remote IT management or network management.

A small footprint, often called an “agent,” is installed on client workstations, servers, mobile devices, and other endpoints to deploy remote monitoring management. These agents then feed information about machine health and status back to the MSP. 

What RMM is capable of is invaluable to MSP providers. By using this agent, MSPs gain insight into client networks, provide the ability to keep machines maintained and up-to-date, and proactively stay ahead of issues. MSPs can also resolve these issues remotely – without the need to go out to a client’s office.

When one of these agents detects a problem on the machine it’s monitoring, an alert (or “ticket”) is created and sent to the MSP, prompting them to take whatever action is necessary to resolve the problem. These tickets are often classified based on severity, problem type, etc., helping the MSP prioritize and identify critical vs. non-critical issues. In best-case scenarios, MSPs can identify and solve issues before the client even realizes there’s a problem.

Additionally, RMM technology allows IT service providers to manage more clients than traditional break/fix IT providers and do so more efficiently. Through remote monitoring and management, technicians can remotely install software and updates, administer patches, and more. 

All these tasks can often be done from a single, unified dashboard. Technicians can administer tasks simultaneously to many computers at once and no longer have to travel from office to office to handle routine maintenance.

Main functions of RMM:

Here is a more detailed look at the daily IT tasks RMM can help you to accomplish for your clients:

  • Gather information about client software, hardware, and networks
  • Supply the MSP with activity reports and data
  • Create appropriate alerts and tickets when problems arise
  • Track network and device health
  • Monitor multiple endpoints and clients simultaneously
  • Automate scheduled maintenance tasks

Leveraging RMM to handle these tasks frees your MSP team to focus on higher-level IT tasks. Now, you can provide your clients with much better service by keeping an ever-vigilant eye on system metrics in your RMM dashboard. You can use this newfound freedom to consult your clients on business growth and expansion.

History of RMM

Computers were developed in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the first standard network management tools were broadly adopted in conjunction with the first Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Until this point, on-site servicing was required using a break-fix model – when something went wrong, the clients would call their IT technician to physically go to the server or computer to troubleshoot the problem. 

As this process continued, support technicians developed procedures to proactively visit clients’ on-site environments to check the health and status of IT equipment running on the network. They usually used elaborate checklists to record information about machine and disk usage. Unfortunately, this still did not give IT the complete picture of the ongoing health and status of the network.

The first managed IT solution tools used with SNMP could feed information back to the IT technician. These complex systems were difficult to manage and could only be afforded by huge companies with huge networks. 

Many MSPs sunk small fortunes into developing their own service delivery platforms with their own infrastructure and network operations center (NOC). Venturing into managed IT services was cost-prohibitive for both small businesses and the MSP.

In 2005, systems began to mature, allowing smaller companies to take advantage of the same managed services that Fortune 500 companies had access to. What RMM is, as we know it, began to take shape.

Expert MSP staff could now leverage RMM technology to service the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Thus began the modern-day managed services movement.

Challenges with break-fix

Before the innovation of RMM solutions, MSPs relied on the break-fix model to make their living. While we can’t knock it too much since it laid the groundwork for the modern MSP industry, early-stage IT professionals faced some uphill challenges with this model:

  • Inconsistent workflow for the IT provider made staffing and maintenance scheduling a challenge – IT demands are episodic, yet labor costs are fixed
  • Inconsistent and unreliable income for MSPs with no recurring revenue model
  • Clients can become unhappy after experiencing multiple problems
  • IT service providers need more clients to keep busy and reach financial goals
  • When problems occur, clients can lose their trust in their IT systems and provider
  • Clients may defer updates or maintenance to avoid associated costs 
  • Minor issues that go unchecked can cause grow into bigger problems
  • Systems can become outdated without regular updates and upgrades – making them more susceptible to breaches and other disastrous events

In the early stages of the IT industry, organizations may have been able to skate by and ignore some of these flaws in their system. But, as computers and networks grew more complex, IT challenges did as well. 

Along with this fact, society at large entered into an information economy. As data management and cybersecurity became pivotal to almost all businesses, it’s easy to see why the MSP industry was ripe for a new service method.

RMM benefits

So, why use remote monitoring and management? The break-fix model is dying, but it’s not dead yet. Proponents of that model cite the “buy here, pay here” pricing and lack of ongoing expenses as benefits of this model.

While that may be true, those benefits are dwarfed by the benefits MSPs and clients both receive from transitioning to RMM. Here is just a small list of positive impacts both parties can expect:

  • SMBs can enjoy the benefits of RMM like enterprise-level automation and monitoring
  • Issues are detected before they become major problems and avoid system failure
  • IT service providers can decrease site visits and associated costs
  • Clients pay a fixed monthly price to keep their IT up and running – there are no surprises for the client and reliable revenue for the IT provider
  • Proactive maintenance achieves optimal network stability
  • The fewer problems that occur, the higher the profit margin
  • End-users enjoy increased uptime without disruption during servicing
  • The life of devices can be extended with improved performance and scheduled maintenance
  • High-valued techs can be focused on preventative maintenance rather than break-fix issues
  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty are increased
  • Increased technician and end-user productivity
  • Issues are often resolved before clients experience them in their environment
  • Allows MSPs to scale, expand their client base and provide true 24/7/365 coverage
  • Reduces surprises and maximizes uptime

These benefits and more allow both MSPs and their clients to get the most out of their IT resources. MSPs also receive the added benefit of more straightforward scaling and reaching many more clients.

RMM services

Now, the big question: what is RMM’s pricing model? Many MSP clients may cringe at the thought of managed IT services. Some business owners hear the words server, network, cybersecurity, or managed IT and automatically think they’ll need to spend a fortune.

Fortunately, most MSPs today are pricing RMM services using a flat-rate, monthly recurring revenue model. Pricing is usually based on the number of devices and services included, with tiered packages priced at graduated levels.

A la carte pricing for additional services allows customers to choose specific offerings that work best for them. For instance, on-site customer support may be offered as an extra fee. 

MSPs must also determine whether to employ a “per-device” or “per-user” pricing structure, which charges clients a fixed price for managed services based on either the number of devices or the number of users in a given environment. Both approaches have their own respective pros and cons.

Modern managed IT services continue to shape the technology side of today’s SMB market. SMBs increasingly need IT to keep the wheels turning and compete with larger organizations. To ensure long-term growth potential and opportunity to scale, MSPs today should consider:

  • Partnering with a provider who offers centralized leadership, supporting their business with training, education, and expertise
  • Choosing a platform that supports diverse environments, including fully virtualized and hybrid cloud infrastructures
  • Leveraging remote monitoring management and connected tools via a single interface to streamline daily operations and eliminate the headache of managing multiple dashboards
  • Automating what RMM is handling, such as patch management, antivirus definition updates, and script scheduling so that you can focus on core operations and business growth
  • Finding a solution backed by a strong network operations center (NOC) by finding a partner with a strong technical staff and infrastructure in place, you can redirect your most talented technicians toward your most important projects

MSPs who implement these recommended tips and tricks will start to see tremendous growth in their business. They’ll be able to offer the best products and services and leverage the true power of RMM to scale their business to any level they wish.

The future of RMM

What RMM has done for the IT industry is revolutionary. SMBs have access to IT services that system administrators would have only dreamed of 25 to 30 years ago. And, as amazing as it’s been, the future of RMM is only looking brighter. Here are some exciting stats on RMM from ConnectWise’s MSP Industry Trends Report 2021:

  • Roughly 100% growth in MSPs using fully integrated professional service automation (PSA) and remote monitoring and management (RMM) software is anticipated in the next 3 years
  • There is an expected 94% in the number of MSPs employing RMM platforms in the next 36 months

Here are a few statistics that give you a good idea of the future trajectory of the MSP industry at-large. With these increases, it’s essential that MSPs invest in areas like RMM to best serve these new potential clients:

  • 48% of business executives surveyed by the Wall Street Journal plan to increase spending on cloud-based services in the coming year
  • Global spending on IT services is predicted to reach $4.5 trillion in 2022
  • 52% of SMB owners feel they’re spending too little on IT and IT services
  • Modern MSPs are currently experiencing an average client retention rate of 90%
  • SMB spending on managed IT services through 2026 will grow at a 14% CAGR compared to a 6% CAGR for total IT spending
  • Over 90$ in new spending will be created in managed services between 2021 and 2026

With so many businesses already reaping the benefits of MSP offerings and society becoming more dependent on technology by the day, things are looking up for the remote monitoring and management of IT infrastructure. 

Making modern IT happen

If you came into this article wondering what RMM is, we hope you finish this article feeling much more comfortable with the topic. In short, RMM is what makes the job of modern MSPs possible. The break-fix model may have worked before, but IT infrastructure is becoming too complex and too vast for that particular model to keep up.

The upside is now, thanks to RMM, MSPs can not only keep up with the pace of IT growth, but they can also scale their managed IT businesses to heights never before thought possible. If you’re looking to transition from the break-fix model or want to improve and unify the remote monitoring management of your IT services, you may want to take a look at our article on selecting the right RMM solution for your MSP business. Connectwise also offers RMM software for MSPs. For more information, watch a demo today.