What is RMM: Everything you need to know about remote monitoring and management

n abstract image of a remote desktop,
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Access to more robust network and internet connections has enabled all sorts of technologies. An interesting one is remote monitoring and management (RMM), which also goes by the name remote IT management, or network management. This RMM is a technology for an enterprise to be able to monitor connected devices such as PC’s. Organizations of all sizes need to deal with the challenge of a remote workforce, and RMM is designed to serve that need, as the performance of the device can be monitored, and maintenance can be performed from afar. 

As the name RMM implies, there are two aspects to the technology: monitoring, and management. Let’s break it down, and look separately at the two aspects.

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What can be monitored? 

Unlike in the past, these days, much can be done from an offsite location, when it is configured appropriately. For starters, computers can be monitored, starting with if they are offline or online, or how they are using system resources to determine if upgrades are needed such as with storage. Beyond the computer, remote monitoring can also keep an eye on the network, to tell if it is at capacity or not, or how many devices are connected and what kind of data throughput is occurring. Insights can be gained into the machine’s health, with the possibility to generate support tickets for resolution. 

What is remote management? 

Furthermore, this is not just for an eye pleasing pie chart or bar graph, but rather so intervention can be done, namely that the network and devices can be managed from a remote, secure location. For example, users on their own cannot be relied upon to install the latest OS, browser, antivirus and driver updates, which will result in gaping security holes in short order. This monotonous and mundane task is one in which RMM excels, as it can easily accomplish this across a multitude of devices efficiently to ensure that all devices are fully up to date and protected.

Why do it?

As this RMM introduces cost and complexity, it is easy to wonder if the benefits are worth this effort. With that in mind, let’s look at the pros of introducing this process.

One plus is that geographic restrictions in choosing a vendor to manage the network get bypassed. For those that only have a limited number of vendors to choose from in their area, and would still have to worry about a response time, this is ideal. As the network gets managed remotely, it can really be done from anywhere on the planet, and there is no concern about how far the RMM company needs to travel to get to the business, which can impact the response time where there is an issue.

Another benefit of RMM is the uptime for the monitoring. Through remote monitoring, a network and devices can be monitored on a 24/7 basis, which would be virtually impossible via more traditional approaches, as no vendor is going to move in. This allows problems to be identified in real time as they occur, as otherwise threats such as viruses and ransomware can compromise a network, and there would be a significant delay in response.

All of this translates to have a network that is far more secure. With alerts ready to be sent out for any cyber attack, you can rest assured that a network has a high level of security, with vigilant monitoring, and a ferocious response ready for any attacks that would be attempted. This is a far better approach to security of a business network than to base it on less specialized, and not always in-house IT employees. It is also more convenient to have the network remotely monitored, which frees up the existing IT staff to devote attention to more pressing company tasks that can be accomplished more efficiently without the constant distractions of network and device monitoring.

Multiple devices also can be managed by a RMM provider. Not limited to only desktops, this approach can also support mobile devices such as smartphones, and laptops as well. Additionally, even devices such as printers and routers can be supported via the appropriate software download. Once enabled, patches can be applied to these devices to keep them more secure.

Why not do it?

While the benefits outweigh the issues with RMM in most cases, there are still some downsides to keep in mind.

The first is that a trustworthy RMM provider needs to be chosen. This is because they need to be relied upon to manage the network and devices, and their software is being installed throughout the network. As you are literally turning over the network to the RMM provider, a good way to verify their trustworthiness is via a longstanding reputation, along with complete transparency to what they are doing with frequent updates.

Cost is another issue to consider. There are plenty of options to monitor a network and update devices, from in-house staff, to a local vendor, or a remote vendor. In many cases, the last option makes the most sense as it is cost comparable considering that the monitoring can occur 24/7/365, and is a significant, in some cases insurmountable challenge via the other two methods.

Finally, the last downside is reliability. No system is ever 100% reliable, so be sure to inquire about the historical uptime of a potential RMM provider. After all, Murphy’s Law will inevitably hit, and just when the network is most vulnerable, nobody needs the RMM to not be ready to protect. Going with an established company with a longer track record is once again the way to go here.

Conclusion

RMM is an important tool, ideally suited to keep a network and devices safe at a business. Understanding the advantages, and leveraging the potential for 24/7/365 monitoring, at a competitive price point, are crucial keys to keeping a company’s network secure, while offloading from the in-house IT staff. 

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Jonas P. DeMuro

Jonas P. DeMuro is a freelance reviewer covering wireless networking hardware.