N-able launches N-central 8.0 remote management platform

Gavin Garbutt

N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt

Ottawa-based MSP tool vendor N-able Monday introduced version 8.0 of its N-central remote management platform.

With the new release, N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt said the company is seeking to be “innovative, sophisticated and simple” with its remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform.

“8.0 is a major inflection point for us,” Garbutt said. “This is the next generation of managed service platforms, and the things we’re going to release over the course of this year will absolutely staggering in terms of technician productivity improvements.

The new release includes a new user interface, and adds support for full access to N-central via a mobile platform for the first time.

Robert Grapes, director of product management and marketing for N-able, said the biggest change is a new user interface, streamlined and centralized under a single-window dashboard that offers at-a-glance status on all customers with managed devices. The new design includes unifying navigation elements on the right side and context-sensitive action items, including the ability to automate actions across a customer’s – or a number of customers’ – managed devices.

The new interface supports much greater levels of filtering, including simple and advanced functionality. Under the advanced filtering, N-central now supports full Boolean queries that allow power users to very quickly get to very specific devices or conditions across the customers they manage.

“It lets a junior technician build a filtered list of just what they need to do, and more senior technicians can create more advanced filters,” Grapes said.

The company previously offered a Web-based UI for use on mobile devices, but for the first time it’s offering full access to the system via a mobile app, in this case on Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. While competitors offer mobile applications, Grapes said N-able has differentiated itself in the mobile world.

“Their mobile UI is about notification and ticket acknowledgement,” he said. Ours is about accessing the network.”

N-central is a moving target, constantly being developed and added upon. Grapes said that MSPs should expect N-able to “harp on automation” over the course of 2011, while Garbutt highlighted the SDK, with which MSPs can develop their own custom services to be delivered via N-central. Grapes said MSPs should also expect more support for virtualization as the cloud becomes much more prevalent.

For more than a year, N-able has been focused on selling MSPs and their customers on its vision of “100 per cent IT management” – the idea that every device on every customer’s network should be under management. Its biggest weapon in that battle has been its freemium model, allowing MSPs to offer free versions of its Essentials and Endpoint Security products when they use N-central. The results have been strong – Garbutt said N-able has seen an 86 per cent increase in the number of SMBs managed under N-central, while the number of managed devices under the platform is up 110 per cent. Still, Garbutt said there’s work to be done.

“Sixty per cent of SMB devices are currently in reactive (hourly) or chaotic (break/fix) coverage,” he said. “[MSPs] may have 30 customers on their dashboard with whom they’re using an RMM tool, but the reality is that 85 per cent of the devices in their customers are still unmanaged. That’s what we’re really trying to solve.”

To continue that battle, the company has added additional modules that MSPs can use to upsell to additional managed services. Already rolled out include the aforementioned endpoint security, as well as Backup, Audit and Netflow, but Garbutt said the company will launch two more in the next thirty says, adding anti-spam through a third-party partner and also introducing a built-in-house Policy Management solution.

The company will be running a number of Webinars detailing N-central 8.0, including live demonstrations. For more information, visit N-able’s Web site.