RMM/PSA provider Atera upgrades performance and release time with move to Microsoft Azure Service Fabric

Atera reworked their own platform to a microservices architecture to take advantage of the new platform, which also greatly improves their ability to work with Big Data.

Gil Pekelman, Atera’s CEO

Atera, which makes a joint Remote Monitoring and Management [RMM], Professional Services Automation [PSA] and remote access platform with a single code base has moved their software to the Microsoft Azure Service Fabric. It has multiple advantages, improving performance, enhancing their ability to crunch Big Data, and making it possible to respond to customer requests for software upgrades much more quickly because of the new platform’s microservices capability. Atera also announced some other improvements together with the new platform, including more granularity in ticketing status, and additional support for Macs.

“We just launched a new platform, which is the outcome of a year-long project done in close co-operation with Microsoft,” said Gil Pekelman, Atera’s Chief Executive Officer. “In our world, Microsoft is the dominant platform in terms of operation and what we did is super-exciting both on the technology side, and from the user’s perspective.”

The key thing was the migration of the Atera software from Microsoft Azure Cloud Services to Microsoft Azure Service Fabric, which Microsoft has had for some time, but which they only opened up to customer access in 2017.

“Our system is a multi-tenanted cloud system that brings big benefits to the user and allows them to improve service and efficiency,” Pekelman said. “It has an enormous amount of data that needs to be managed and crunched. We had to be on the cutting edge to do that, and that is the Azure Service Fabric. The technology of the Service Fabric infrastructure is super-scalable and super-reliable, but to use it, we had to break our software down from a monolith to thousands of single microservices. It took us a year to break down the software into microservices, testing all the connectivity and doing a beta.”

Pekelman said that this new architecture makes it much easier to respond to customer requests and provide new updates of the software.

“Breaking up the software into small bites means that if you add a new feature, it only affects that small part,” he stated. “It makes it easier to enhance or add features, without influencing other parts of the software.  You can easily scale up specific elements. We now release a new version of the software every three weeks, and it’s going to go down to two weeks.”

“The new architecture will also improve performance for customers, and allow us to scale to an unlimited number of machines,” said said Oshri Moyal, Atera’s CTO. “The more frequent updates will also make customers happy.”

Pekelman said that the new architecture provides similar benefits for MSPs.

“Now, if an MSP needs something, they can get it very quickly,” he indicated. “If they ask for something, they could see it within three weeks. The ability to crunch big data numbers also allows them to provide more value. And the performance is better. Things work faster and are more responsive and stable.”

Pekelman made a point of highlighting how easy Microsoft had been to work with in getting this upgrade accomplished.

“That depth of co-operation in working with Microsoft now is something that was really exciting,” he said. “We worked closely with a lot of their engineers to get this done – such close co-operation, such dynamism in working together. Microsoft really is a different company today – not that evil company we remember from the old days. We could never say they were such nice guys in the past!”

In addition to the move to the Microsoft Azure Service Fabric, the new version of the Atera software has several other enhancements.

They have added a new integration with ConnectWise Control, formerly ScreenConnect, which provides remote support, remote access, and remote meeting capabilities.

“We have had an integration with SpashTop for this, to provide anywhere access to remotely control devices, but this will give users a choice of application,” Pekelman said.

Mac support has also been beefed up with an improved patch management tool for Mac management. It provides more visibility, organization, and a faster way to send patches and updates to customers.

“50 per cent of our MSPs are managing Macs,” Pekelman noted. “It’s a huge number, so we are investing a lot in that.”

A new interactive in-app command prompt adds the ability to use cached commands from the command line, without the need to open a remote tool.

“When an MSP wants to do actions using a command line, it’s easier for them,” Moyal said. “Now, instead of connecting to a remote tool, they can just open a browser. It also allows more than one person to be working in parallel on the same machine.”

More statuses have now been added to tickets, for better visibility. The categories now include Incident, Problem, Request, and Change.

“It allows them to designate the status of a ticket with more granularity,” Moyal noted. “This came from a customer request to provide deeper visibility into status. This was one of those things that we were able to deliver in three weeks.”