Review: Under The Hood Of 5 MSP Platforms - InformationWeek

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Review: Under The Hood Of 5 MSP Platforms

The CRN Test Center takes a look under the hood of some popular vendor platforms.

Review: SilverBack Technologies

SilverBack Technologies is known for the unique policy engine in its MSP suite, which simplifies IT management. The policy-based architecture allows MSPs to offer many services to multiple customers without having to re-create management rules for each customer. By standardizing policies in a network operations center, MSPs can add many customers and devices without having to hire more technicians.

Policies also can be inherited so that unique rules applying to specific customers are the only rules technicians need to observe. This enables MSPs to add customization without starting from scratch. For instance, MSPs can create a gold policy that covers the most common devices and link customer-specific devices with a smaller policy.

 1. SilverBack Technologies
 2. LPI Level Platforms

 3. N-Able Technologies

 4. AdventNet

 5. Nagios
Since general policies are shared among customers and require the most observation, technicians do not have track individual faults per customer and instead can perform remediation based on policies. What's more, the grouping of policies is far more effective for tracking many problems at once rather than just relying on single views of each customer. Because the main policies put in place by MSPs and SilverBack remain mostly unaltered, new customers that come on board can be serviced in a matter of hours.

Out of the box, SilverBack's Datacenter server arrives with monitoring rules for many network devices, including enterprise-scale devices such as Cisco routers, large Canon printers and Check Point firewalls. Some of Datacenter's monitoring capabilities cover network latency, SNMP traps, CPU utilization, memory buffer overflow and various log files from Linux, Unix, Novell and Windows. In addition, Datacenter arrives with extensive support for entire facilities and can monitor power lines, heat, moisture and temperature.

Datacenter relies on an agentless client software to manage customers' LANs. The agentless software, called SilverStreak, communicates by initiating an SSL tunnel back to an MSP site. Some SilverBack MSPs also like to use VPNs to communicate with customers.

During a remediation session, technicians can quickly launch a SilverStreak management tunnel back to an MSP site. Once a tunnel is established in a LAN, devices and applications are accessible via Telnet or VNC. SilverStreak also can initiate vulnerability scans, check perimeter access at firewall zones and distribute and monitor patches so that systems are kept up to date.

A unique feature in SilverStreak is its internal database, which maintains a log of every action it is performing on a network. Armed with this data, technicians can conduct detailed forensic analysis. The log also is important to customers that need to maintain some government or industry compliance.

Datacenter arrives with about 1,000 predefined conditions. The conditions are general events that SilverStreak checks for on any device and application. Some of these events are not specific to any operating system and cover any Windows or Linux server. For instance, by setting up general server alerts for "system out of virtual memory" and "system not accessible," Datacenter is intelligent enough to cover specific operating systems and server technologies. Conditions can be overridden as well.

SilverBack offers seven different packages that start from a $3,000 Quick Launch up to a $99,500 Business Builder Plus package. As packages go up, SilverBack increases the number of licenses and network capabilities. SilverBack's licensing model is based on the number and types of devices, which range from 35 to 450 licenses per customer.

In addition to supporting the basic Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) interface and MSRPC protocol, Datacenter arrives with an integrated patch-management system that automatically updates Windows patches, including hundreds of other products. VARs do not have to purchase a separate Microsoft Software Update Server.

NEXT: LPI Level Platforms

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