What is our primary use case?
In the beginning, we were using Atera to go into companies and get them onto a remote management system. Many of the companies that we worked with didn't have any type of remote management.
We also utilize it for invoicing services, when we have to go out to a customer and help fix different things, and that has been very helpful.
How has it helped my organization?
During these past couple of years, Atera has brought out so many extra integrations which have been very helpful in improving antivirus work, such as Bitdefender.
The solution enables us to be very transparent with our customers, which they find very comforting. In our business, we're normally hired by companies that can't quite afford an IT department. We help them with that aspect and with their tech debt analysis, helping to make sure that their equipment is productive for them and that they have less downtime. That increases their productivity and makes them more profitable. That's one reason why we really love Atera.
In addition, if you end up having a lot of tickets about one particular machine, it helps us justify suggestions we make. "Hey, you have this one desktop that for some reason keeps having a fan overheat" or "this machine ends up having ghost files that keep filling up the hard drive no matter how many times you wipe it." We can say to them, "Why don't we go ahead and upgrade the fan?" Or, "Why not change the hard drive?" It helps explain to customers what is going on with the machine. We can tell them, "We've been monitoring it for a few months," and give them something tangible that they can see and understand, whether or not they understand technology.
Using Atera has eliminated quite a bit of frustration, especially in our experience with everyone having to go remote as a response to COVID. A few of our clients had never done that before. It really provided a lot of comfort because they would have support whenever they needed it on various wireless networks. I've had clients that were so happy that they were able to utilize us, their remote IT support company, remotely. If they asked us, "Hey, do you know when this computer might have gone offline?" we could show those trends. We could tell them, "Here's the last user who logged in on this machine."
With COVID, one of our very large clients was able to leave their office and pick up the very next day, without hiccups. There was a lot of anxiety, especially for companies that run a call center or a customer service center. They don't want to have downtime because that reflects badly on their customer service. The fact that we were able to help this large company go fully remote, which is something they had never done, without any downtime, was amazing. We know that was successful because we had Atera.
I've worked with tools before that are locked into domains and if they aren't logged in through a VPN you can't connect. Atera is probably one of the first RMMs that I've used seamlessly on different wireless networks. For example, in my household alone I have two separate wireless networks. If one dropped, I was able to get on the other one and, once it connected, the monitoring would pop back up. That was a very new feature for me, and I've used much larger RMMs. For some of those other solutions, that situation would be a hindrance, and you would have to restart the whole machine. With this one, you end up with less downtime, which I have found to be very helpful.
Using Atera is saving me at least three hours a day, easily, because I'm not having to spend so much time on things like, "How can I access your machine? Can you log in to this one site?" and then having to talk that client through the connection process. Now, it's just, "Hey, do you have time available? Can I remote into your machine so I can show you where this is located or show you how to fix this one setting?" We like to educate our clients a little bit so they don't have to ask the same question a lot. A popular one is clearing the cookies and cache. You can send them a how-to, but sometimes they just need to see you do it. I'll jump on the remote. I love that it announces to the client, "Hey, Kim Basset is connected to your computer." I like that transparency, because I never want our clients to feel like we're spying on them. And then we walk through whatever we're we're trying to fix. And then it lets them know, "Kim Basset has disconnected from your machine." That's been very helpful in saving time. It also keeps us transparent as a company, while showing our clients that they are supported, no matter what day or time it is. It is very easy to connect. Something that might have taken 30 minutes to an hour in the past, might be an under a five-minute fix now.
It has also saved us money because of the way it scales. We had one company that went through M&A and went from about 20 machines to 150, overnight. If we were having to pay per device, even if it was $3 to $4 per device, that would add up to a lot of cost for us. We want to give our clients the best tool, but we also want to make sure that we're not having to charge them so much because they're scaling. You don't want to penalize a company for growing. That was very important for me and was the main reason I really liked Atera when I tried it two years ago. As my business has grown, my cost has stayed the same.
What is most valuable?
Recently, we've been using their Shared Script Library, which has been great for patch updates and other tips to help make transitions smoother.
One of my favorite things that I can use Atera for is giving our customers an end-of-life-cycle tech inventory for their machines that might be getting out of date or might have had a hard drive failure. If they are out of date on a Windows update, we can give them a heads-up: "Hey, FYI, you have four or five machines that aren't responding as far as updates go." Maybe it's because they've been offline. They may say, "Oh yeah, we had some that went down."
It's also great because it's a cross-platform solution. Some companies we go into are very Windows-based and we have others that are very Apple-based. It is a great cross-platform solution for us and our clients.
When they added the Terminal addition on the Mac—because the Mac has a lot of different hurdles when you're trying to add software to many machines—that really made things so much simpler.
Other valuable features include:
- The device lists they have, meaning Atera is pulling data right away, is amazing.
- I love that I can scope it by client. That keeps things very organized and makes it easy to use.
- In terms of the interface, you can white-label things. That is pretty great.
Another aspect is that Atera has visuals, and I'm a very visual person. I love the visual illustrations, even for each device. It shows us that its peak usage is at this time. Is there something that this specific user is doing? Does it justify them getting a more powerful machine? That is a really great example of the ease of use and of being able to take the data that it collects and translate it for our customer.
What needs improvement?
One caveat is that it's network-dependent. If our customer is having a hard time connecting to the internet, that's the only limiting factor. But that's true with any remote management system, for the most part.
I would like to see more mobile device management. iPad is a big one. I know they've been working on some of that. For me, it would be amazing if I could do tablet devices and even expand it to POS systems or the like. I know that a lot goes into that but I've seen it is an area they're looking at.
In the education area, being able to scope a classroom full of iPads, instead of using Apple Configurator, would be great. Back in the day, when I worked in education, Configurator was my initial jump into remote management with the ability to scope iPads for a classroom. I would love to see that type of functionality in Atera. I would even pay a little bit more for it.
Other RMM solutions are more customizable or have more integrations. I would really love to see the tablet management and iOS management in it. I've worked with a very large RMM that is very popular. I'm even certified with them. While it isn't very cost-effective for what we needed as a company, their integrations included that iOS control and scoping. That is the next area that I would love Atera to jump into.
Also, if they had a Chromebook integration, it could help. We don't have that many clients using Chromebooks, but that is a market that would be very helpful to get into. It would help Atera expand out as well.
Another area for improvement would be the ability to have a one-screen monitoring of actual logged-in devices. If we had a client that has a classroom, being able to see all those devices in real time, like Apple Remote Desktop has, would be a cool integration.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've been using Atera for about two years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We haven't had any downtime with it due to Atera. We've had downtime either due to our network or a machine not responding. I have no complaints about it.
How are customer service and technical support?
Before I became a champion of Atera, I spoke with them about a couple of things when I was first learning it, and they were super-helpful. If they didn't have an answer, they got back to me very quickly, which was great. You don't necessarily get that with other SaaS companies.
I like their documentation and their Knowledge Base. It has good breadth to it. If you were to have a hard time finding support, their Knowledge Base gives a lot of great tips and tricks within the tool. It even addresses aspects around building your business. They will say, "Hey, new MSP, we've asked our community: 'If you could go back 15 years and change something, what would it be?'" As a new business owner, that was super-helpful. That information gave me some great ideas that I hadn't thought about.
They really do keep their clients in-the-know.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was very straightforward. They had a wizard along the way. It told us, "You've completed 10 percent of your initial setup," et cetera. That included everything from adding your logo into it, to deploying it on devices, and adding information. It was very simple and it was displayed on a sidebar until it was completed. It was one of the easiest RMMs in terms of setup. In general, the software as a service set up is very easy to walk through. I've done it in a couple of iterations from one company to another. It was just very easy to scale and to do. It always has that little pop-up that says "Hey, if you have any questions, I'm right here." That is a good support tool.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Our company is a startup. The initial reason I looked into Atera was the fact that you pay by the technician, not per-device. That means you are able to jump right in with a service without having a large overhead. That proved very helpful for us, given that we have a very small startup budget. Their service doesn't discriminate on whether a company is super-large or not so big. It allowed us to grow quickly, with many different clients, without a hiccup.
This is a really great tool and it's constantly improving. It's not just some open source RMM. Other RMMs have said to us, "Please review our product, or try it out." And I say, "Yeah, it's great, but it's not going to help me with my scalability." I feel that Atera really wants you to know they support you and your growing business. "Trust in us," is what I perceive them to be saying. For me, that's been the savior. We know that if our company is growing and we need more technicians, that's awesome. We know exactly what our cost is going to be, what our overhead is going to be, and what it can support. That is a huge piece for us as a new startup business.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I've used many RMMs in the past, throughout my career, and one thing that is great about Atera is that they have an amazing community. If there's something you're looking to do that you haven't quite learned yet with Atera, there's either another "Aterian" who is using it and who can give you some tips and tricks.
Also, it's so easy to use. With other RMMs that I've used before, it would take a week of training. I didn't need all that extra time when I jumped into Atera. I've actually trained a few people on how to use Atera, from the initial login to installing it on a machine, and monitoring a machine. For a pretty green user, someone who is a new technician or even a temporary hire, it has been very easy for me to explain how to use it. Because I have a technical background, it was definitely very easy for me to jump right on board with Atera. However, it's very easy for other people who aren't as tech-savvy, or who haven't used an RMM before. The longest part is having them install the remote management tool that works with our screen-sharing. After making sure that the technician has that one component, they are off to the races.
It's very easy to use, not just for me, but even for people who have claimed, "I'm not very good at IT." Once you have it installed and you have it set up, it pretty much works by itself. It really helps you do what you need to do. It's easy to use for a beginner, compared to some of the other larger RMMs that are a little bit more complicated.
Even their word choice, the way they choose to label things, is very clear. With some of the RMMs that I've used in the past, trying to figure out how to connect to the machine wasn't so easy. It might be a three- or four-step process. The longest part, with Atera, is just logging in with your two-factor authentication code, if you don't have your phone nearby. Once you're in and that button pops up for connecting to a device, you click the button and then it just drives itself. It's very user-friendly in my opinion.
As far as integrations go, Atera does have an API area where you can go and try to tie it into something yourself, if they don't have it integrated already, which is cool. I've worked with two really big solutions and for that kind of functionality they say, "Oh, you have to be a premium subscriber to get access to these developer tools so that you can tie in with the API." I get it. I understand the business model in terms of making more money, but Atera is close to being as cost-effective as possible for their customers. It just takes a little bit more curiosity and tenacity to try to figure out how to create an integration if they don't have it yet. But the opportunity is there. I like to tinker. I like to try to figure out how to integrate things. There are larger RMMs that have those integrations built-in already, but Atera is growing so fast that I just have to be patient. These things are coming.
What other advice do I have?
Over time, I have let colleagues in the industry who were looking at RMMs know that Atera has a trial and have told them, "Give it a try on a few machines. Sandbox it, if you're using it for deployment, so you can see the things you can use it for." That's been very helpful for them.
You get a good, solid two weeks to try it out. That's how I got started. I didn't have to commit to something that might end up being like a brick, something that was not going to do what I needed it to do. But definitely go look through it.
Their Knowledge Base is open. Go see some of the things that they have in it. See if they have solutions to some of your common problems. That could be very helpful for a new technician. Sometimes it feels like you're as good as how well you can Google. Also, if you have any questions, Atera has communities through social media. I'm a part of quite a few MSP groups where I'll look at what the trends are and what people like and what they don't like about it.
In terms of automating processes, I've used it a little bit for onboarding and device provisioning. I am still learning the different facets that it has, but for onboarding it has been great. That's because I'm not stuck in just one platform. If I have PCs, I know the layout that I want and I can build out the profiles that I want. And I can then use Atera to push them, which is great. It's the same on the Mac side. It's true that with Mac there can be more of a dance because there are more of those little pieces, but Atera saves so much time, especially when you have clients that have specific profiles.
One piece that I am looking into more is the patch management and some of their integrations. Another thing that I've seen that has a lot of potential, something I'm still playing with, is the network discovery piece for people who are still in the office and not working remotely. It gives them an idea of what kind of devices are on their network. Should they be there? Should they not? We can use it as a diagnostic tool and say to our client, "Hey, you should only have 10 machines, but you have 15. Where are these other fives coming from?" They may say, "Oh my goodness, I'm not sure. Let's look into that." It gives us good conversation points to help keep our clients in the know, without overwhelming them to the point that they don't understand what's going on.
One thing that I'm most impressed by with Atera is how much they listen to their community to focus on more integrations. Especially when it comes to the cybersecurity realm, we have many companies using different types of antivirus solutions. Over the past year, Atera has added additional antivirus integrations. If there has been one antivirus that we've been working with most, but, over time, another one has really stepped up, Atera is already working on an integration for that because that antivirus is being used around the world. I've really enjoyed that piece.
If you see the things you need, chances are they have a developer working on it. If not, you can literally message one of their developers, and say, "Hey, it would be great if you had this," and they'll say, "That's an awesome idea. Let me work on it." In my experience with other RMMs, you're not given that type of access where your voice really is heard. If you want to feel like you're making an impact with your IT solutions, and you want to make sure that you're being heard, Atera is an excellent avenue for that.
They have their roadmap listed for you. If I'm wondering if they work with a particular antivirus, I look at their page where they talk about things that they're looking to add, and where they're looking at what the priorities are among their clients. I can see if someone has already asked that question. I can up-vote it if I would love that as well. I can give the reasons why I need it, and then they work on it. Any area that I have that I want to be improved, I can let my voice be heard.
Being able to talk with Atera is helpful because they also ask, "What are some other ones that you use?" That growth, and the way they really listen to their customers, has been amazing. I have not seen that with many IT vendors, period. They actually take into account what the customers want and they add it to their sprints. Atera is a very proactive company and that's why I enjoy using them.