In the three years since Autotask acquired the remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform formerly known as CentraStage, the focus has been on closing a features gap with competing products.
That largely done, Autotask Community Live 2017 this week represented a milepost of sorts, an inflection point where the toolset’s designers are pivoting to more heady capabilities for their cloud-native RMM.
In a world where feature sets are increasingly nearing parity, the solution now known as Autotask Endpoint Management (AEM) is aiming for the next frontier in RMM functionality.
“The ability to apply policy-based patch management at the global level,” CentraStage co-founder Christian Nagele said of their ambitions.
Negale is the former CEO of CentraStage and now holds the title of general manager of Autotask Endpoint Management.
“Our view is, none of the RMM vendors deliver a world class patch management,” he said. “It’s one thing to be patching your customers. It’s another thing to report to your customers that they’re fully patched.”
Creating “something different” was part of the original idea behind the SaaS-delivered solution that hit the market in 2007.
At the time, the major RMM players weren’t yet leveraging cloud.
That made CentraStage a favorite among larger customers, who wanted the ability to monitor and manage many thousands of endpoints and scale efficiently.
Aside from corporations, the solution gained interest as an early play in Internet of Things.
The tool was hosted on Amazon Web Services so instead of adding more and bigger servers when the number of endpoints increased, enterprises could simply spin up more cloud resources.
“It was important that it was cloud based,” said Ian van Reenen, the other co-founder, who now works as vice president of endpoint engineering at Autotask. “That was probably the key differentiator.”
“(Selling) almost got easier the larger the deal,” he recalled.
From the start, the software was intended to allow administrators to actually make use of the enormous volume of data the system collects, helping them to efficiently manage 20,000 endpoints – or just one.
“There’s just too much data for people to make sense of it,” van Reenen said of the pain point they’re solving for. “We are collecting about 45,000 performance metrics per second.”
Their latest vision for the product follows in that tradition of helping users to manage large networks.
They offered an example scenario in which a vulnerability is discovered in a series of devices.
“Show us all devices with that particular vulnerability,” van Reenen said of the aspirational functionality. “Layer on top of that, search; then you drill it down and (identify) devices based on geography.
“I’m not looking at 20 pages; these are your 20 vulnerable devices.”
“In the future we can say, should the system just do it automatically,” he went on. “It’s a big data play.”
Armed with such information, an MSP could engage a customer and advise them to replace devices deemed too vulnerable.
That same philosophy flows into the user interface, which aims to help administrators to quickly get all of the information they need without becoming overwhelmed.
He contrasted AEM’s user interface with the treetop structure used by Windows and other tools.
“There’s a limit of what you can actually show,” van Reenen said. “We weren’t going to have this huge table of green dots. We decided we were only going to show what you need to do something about.”
“That’s the approach we took to designing the UI,” he added. “Take it away. Don’t show me the green stuff, show me the red stuff.”
The founders said they have great respect and empathy for their competitors, but readily proclaim that their RMM is the best on the market because they’ve never lost sight of their original objective.
“If I’m an admin for MSPs,” Nagele said, “can I manage 10,000 endpoints as well as I can manage 1,000?”
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