I have been fortunate enough to cover the technology space – literally since the 80s and 90s – being immersed in the latest and greatest tech in the world and reporting on it to you. Back when magazines were all the rage, I was fortunate to launch one called CTI – which focused on the convergence of voice and data and later Internet Telephony Magazine which focused on IP communications and VoIP.
One thing missing in my decades of being in the media business was real-world experience. In other words, the hands-on knowledge you can only glean from installing and maintaining systems yourself. Sure, we have TMC Labs which review products and has done so for decades but deploying a product in a lab is not the same as a production environment for a million reasons such as network latency, the variable nature of production environments, etc. We do our best to simulate reality but every environment is different so you can never ever test for every real-world permutation.
The thing that’s helped me the most in writing content and knowing which products work correctly and don’t is launching an MSP which primarily services New York City, White Plains and Fairfield County, CT.
Case in point is our equipment monitoring solution. The category can be referred to as known as IT Management or IT Service Management Software (ITSM) or Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). When working correctly, it lets you know if any equipment you monitor is malfunctioning in any way and can serve as a proactive warning of impending issues. Is your hard disk about to fail? Based on the diagnostics, it may. So, it’s time to order a new one… Before it actually goes down for the count. When Apex Technology Services started some years back, we opted to go with Kaseya agents. They worked fine but we had issues with remote access connectivity. The company didn’t resolve the problem to our satisfaction and coincidentally, we hired a few new techs at the time who liked LabTech and convinced us to switch.
Fast forward some years. We have over 100 customers with hundreds of devices in total and we’ve run into a big flaw with LabTech.
Occasionally, the software effectively stops working. This is the precise message our tech sent them a few days ago:
Every few months, our Offline Servers monitor becomes disabled without warning or notification. This is a huge detriment to our business; we absolutely need to know when our clients’ servers are offline. I have reset the monitor for now, but we need to know why this is happening, and how to make it stop. Without this alert working we might as well close our business.
He isn’t being overly dramatic. We have a Fortune 200 customer and who’s who of financial companies who’ve chosen to work with us. We need to be the absolute best to ensure our customers can perform at their best. Downtime is something we must avoid at all costs.
In fact we haven’t ever lost a customer and we want to keep it that way!
This is obviously a very important communication yet it took the company two days to respond.
Think this through. LabTech is in business because it allows IT service providers, VARs and MSPs to monitor their hardware so they can theoretically know the instant something goes wrong. The turnaround time on a support response? 48 hours.
Let’s put this aside for a moment. The original response alluded to the fact that the server monitoring our equipment had a high level of disk defragmentation… 14%. Their tech support rep thankfully ran a defrag – in case this was the issue.
Let’s pause once again. This is their server! This is an IT monitoring company – shouldn’t the disk defrag be done proactively? Isn’t that the business its customers are in? How can they not be in the same business?
In addition, the company told us we made some changes to our Remote Services Monitoring settings and we should go back to the default, the question is, what good are the settings if they cause the entire value of the solution to plummet to zero? My team advised me the only reason we had to customize the settings is because this offline notification failure issue occurred once before and they advised we make these changes. In other words, they’ve sent us in circles.
Other challenges with LabTech? The solution is more manual than Kaseya according to my techs.
My team is looking to switch back to Kaseya and it’s a shame. We are growing quickly and think we’re a really good customer that shouldn’t have to deal with these problems. Having said that, like all companies that want to keep growing quickly, Apex provides the best possible support and can’t do so if our vendors let us down. Switching vendors is a pain but sometimes you have no choice if you want to do right by your customers.
The lesson here is for vendors supporting MSPs – these companies rely on you a great deal and a single mistake can literally cost an MSP a million-plus dollars or more per year – just from one large customer. Vendors suppling channel partners and MSPs have to be better than this. They need to provide the 5 nines often popularized in the telecom space. If they don’t, they obviously shouldn’t be in this business.