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LabTech CEO: ScreenConnect a 'Huge Strategic Deal' for Company's RMM

At its three-day Automation Nation conference in Orlando this week, LabTech executives made clear how important ScreenConnect is to the remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool's future.

ConnectWise, which has an equity stake in LabTech, acquired ScreenConnect in February. Within a month, LabTech integrated the standalone remote control technology into version 10 of its eponymous RMM tool.

In a telephone interview from Automation Nation on Wednesday, LabTech CEO Matt Nachtrab described LabTech 10's support for ScreenConnect as a quick integration that placed buttons for the new technology side-by-side with the company's pre-existing remote control technology, VNC.

Nachtrab makes no bones about how much better ScreenConnect works than VNC. "To remote control, historically they would click VNC. But it would be slow to connect and slow while you're connected. With ScreenConnect, in about 2 seconds you're on that remote computer; and while you're on, it's almost like you're working at that computer," he said.

At the time of the acquisition, Nachtrab asserted that ScreenConnect represented a 95 percent improvement in time to connect compared to VNC. During a keynote this week, another LabTech executive showed some of the conference's 700 attendees a tombstone slide featuring VNC and held a moment of silence for the outgoing remoting technology.

"It's a huge strategic deal," Nachtrab said Wednesday of the importance of ScreenConnect to LabTech's future. "The No. 1 feature used in LabTech was VNC -- No. 1, by far. It just wasn't a very good experience. We replaced the No. 1 feature area of our product, at no additional charge to our customer base, with a very elegant and enjoyable remote control. It's huge for the product of LabTech."

Version 10.5, set for release later this year, will be integrated much more completely with ScreenConnect.

"They're doing a deeper integration of ScreenConnect within LabTech to make it feel like it's more one system," Nachtrab said. Among the items in the roadmap for the ScreenConnect Plug-in for the LabTech 10.5 timeframe are support for Mac agents and an agent-presence indicator, which lights up green to tell an administrator if a device is available to remote in to. Also planned for the plug-in are enhanced deployment options, which allow a client, location or computer to be excluded from remoting capabilities.

"In LabTech for privacy and HIPAA compliance reasons, we have the ability to configure by customer, and even by computer, very granularly what happens when a technician attempts to take control," Nachtrab said. For example, at a hospital computer, a system could be configured to provide an end user a prompt to allow or deny a remote control attempt, or to deny all attempts when a computer is unattended. VNC supports those types of policies in version 10, but ScreenConnect will support them in 10.5.

LabTech engineers are also working to make ScreenConnect the default remote control feature in the 10.5 timeframe for Web Control Center, a lightweight feature set that allows technicians to manage customers' systems while out of the office. The ScreenConnect remoting capability is also being added to Web Portal, an ad hoc support and mobile workforce tool.

The remote control capabilities aren't the only integrations coming in version 10.5. Another major area of improvement is in LabTech Ignite, which is the RMM's engine for application and service monitoring. In an effort to make it more easily customizable, the company is adding Ignite Management Packs, described in a LabTech public roadmap as, "Comprehensive solution packs for application and/or service monitoring enabled with searches, monitors, thresholds and alert actions necessary for management of devices running Exchange, IIS, SQL, etc. These new Management Packs give you the freedom to choose which LabTech Ignite solutions you want to utilize and which ones you do not." Management Packs for version 10.5 will include Web/proxy, messaging, database and network.

Other features coming in LabTech 10.5 include support for Windows 10 and Hyper-V, new Active Directory integrations, a redesigned StorageCraft plug-in for backup, a new HitmanPro plug-in for whitelisting and an ESET plug-in.

The importance of the ScreenConnect addition goes beyond the features of LabTech's future RMM releases, Nachtrab said. Because ScreenConnect is a standalone remote control tool, he said, "It's a nice, light entry point to the LabTech family. It's also fully multinational and multilingual. So strategically ScreenConnect is massively important to the long-term expansion of all the ConnectWise products."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 03, 2015


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