Ask a Mentor: How Can I Compare Managed Services Software?

Ask a Mentor: How Can I Compare Managed Services Software?

Each Tuesday, MSPmentor’s Ask a Mentor service publishes a reader question and invites you to weigh in with recommendations. This week’s question comes from a reader in Europe who is seeking information about managed services software -- options and recommendations. Here’s the question and our reply…

Question: The reader states: "Please provide a comparison between MSP vendors: Kaseya and its competitors -- for example IBM Tivoli, Ingram Micro Seismic, HP Openview in terms of product and pricing."

Answer: Ah, the old "which tool should I choose?" question. We get this one all the time... and I never take the bait. Fact is, MSPmentor's team doesn't run MSP-related software. Nor have we ever paid for such software. It's sort of like being a baseball writer who isn't qualified to step into the batter's box and hit a Nolan Ryan fastball.

Our Views

That said, we still have some strong opinions and clarifications. Let's start with the companies you mentioned, their market segments and their potential rivals.

1. Lots of Options: First, you mentioned Kaseya -- a well-know solution in the SMB channel. But there are plenty of rivals worth noting such as Apparent Networks, Citrix GoToManage (formerly Paglo), GFI Max, IT Control Solutions, LabTech Software, Level Platforms, LogMeIn, ManageEngine, N-able, Nimsoft, PacketTrap MSP (from Quest Software), Zenith Infotech and Zyrion. Plus, new solutions are on the way. We're keeping a close eye on Microsoft Windows Intune for example.

2. Enterprise: Then you mentioned IBM Tivoli and HP OpenView: I'd add BMC and CA Technologies to that list. Those offerings are more enterprise-centric, though I do hear about Nimsoft displacing some of those solutions from time to time.

3. Master MSPs: Then you mentioned Ingram Micro Seismic. That's not really a managed services tool. Instead, think of Seismic as a Master MSP that offers a range of tools, training and technologies for MSPs and VARs. To the best of my knowledge, Seismic offers Level Platforms and Nimsoft to partners. Potential Master MSP alternatives include Cloud Services Depot, Do IT Smarter, MSP Services Network (MSPSN) and Virtual Administrator.

Of course I've missed a few companies. Key upstarts worth watching include CentraStage, GroundWork Open Source and Naverisk.

Your Choice

So, you've dozens of options. How do you find the right fit for your company? A few random thoughts in no particular order.
  • Test Drive: Like buying a car, you should take some time to test drive the managed services software. Most of the major MSP software providers offer free trials.
  • Ask Six Questions: MSPmentor has an archived webcast that describes six questions MSPs need to ask before choosing a RMM (remote monitoring and management) software. The webcast archive should be available until around May 1. Please note: The event was sponsored by Nimsoft, though Nimsoft VP and GM Phil LaForge avoided the temptation to pitch his own software during the webcast.
  • Ask Peers: Check in with HTG Peer Groups and other peer groups. The groups span dozens of VARs and MSPs. Surely the members have strong opinions about specific tools for specific business needs. Also, ask peers who attend events hosted by CompTIA, MSPAlliance, MSP University and/or Robin Robins. Lots of MSPs with strong opinions attend those conferences.
  • Attend a PSA (professional services automation) summit: The tree major PSA conferences -- hosted by Autotask, ConnectWise and Tigerpaw Software, respectfully -- provide fertile ground for learning. Remote monitoring and management software plugs into PSA systems. So, the PSA events offer you the opportunity to meet with a range of MSPs who run a range of RMM software. Just note: ConnectWise Capital has an investment in LabTech Software, though the ConnectWise event strives to provide a level platform for all of the RMM software companies to be heard.
  • Ask a Coach: Managed services coaches like TruMethods, Stuart Selbst Consulting, MSP Excellence, and Transformation Strategies cater to different types of MSPs. Some of the consultants have contracts with specific software vendors. But in my experience the consultants do a good job disclosing their relationships up front. Even if you're not working with the coaches directly, perhaps you can engage with them for a specific project, surveying their clientele about the tools they use and why.
Potential Conflicts of Interest: I've thrown lots of names around in this blog post. For the sake of disclosure, all of our sponsor and financial relationships are disclosed here and here.

But once again: I've avoided the temptation to directly answer a reader question. I'd be foolish (and irresponsible) to pick a tool for a business I've never personally managed. Follow some of the starter steps above and you'll find the tool that best fits your business needs.

Readers: Admittedly, I'm just a blogger. You're the experts since you're dealing with the service provider industry every day. Feel free to weigh in with a comment below. Or, to submit your own question, simply visit our Ask a Mentor page. We’ll post a new reader inquiry each Tuesday. And we’ll reply privately to you as well.

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