Imagine how complicated your life would be without access to the information needed to make some of the most important business decisions. It would be like having your car’s vital gauges stop working just as you leave for a family cross-country drive. How safe would you feel cruising down the highway for thousands of miles without a speedometer or fuel indicators? Sure, you could always estimate your speed by measuring the time between mileage markers and use the distance to approximate the amount of gas left in the tank, but each of those tricks takes time and at least some rudimentary math skills (or perhaps an app?). That adds unnecessary complications to your drive and your life.
The same basic principles apply to your business’ technology and financial dashboards. If your team doesn’t have what it needs to monitor the status of various systems and metrics, how can they make adjustments and respond to potential emergencies before they become critical? Those capabilities are especially crucial for MSPs, allowing them to review data from a number of real-time activities and make intelligent decisions based on the latest trends and metrics.
When solution providers fail to link and leverage their cloud and managed services tools effectively, they give up more than the extra time and energy to takes to perform each step manually: they also lose some control. That includes access to the all the real-time data that you can get from the latest integrations and dashboard controls.
A growing MSP business needs a high-level overview of network performance, fault management, and device availability across all its customers’ sites. With that information, technicians can spot many issues before they turn serious or cause customer disruptions. With the increasing complexity of many business systems, including the integration of legacy technologies some stakeholders aren’t ready to relinquish, MSPs need to know what’s happening with their clients’ entire infrastructure at all times.
A dashboard provides MSPs with KPIs of those components in real time. Information contained in these consoles can vary widely by the provider, but typically they include such things as network traffic, CPU usage, latency, software features, and other important status reports and measurements. Dashboards quickly illustrate issues with devices and systems, revealing problems at an MSP’s client sites. This information may be presented graphically; allowing users to quickly review high-level processes before drilling down to lower level data, helping them diagnose the dilemma so they can make the appropriate adjustments or repairs. This also gives providers an opportunity to peel back the layers of a specific problem until they have a clear picture of the cause and respond appropriately.
Consider how providers of unified communications are using these central management consoles. The key assets of any network can be monitored constantly to ensure that each is running at peak performance at all times, which is critical to the quality use of VoIP applications. Even if data flow isn’t significantly compromised by a certain network issue, calls can be majorly impacted by a latency issue, packet loss or even what some would consider a minor internet quirk. By utilizing a dashboard to monitor these VoIP systems, an MSP can spot potential issues faster and make the necessary adjustments before their client’s communication is negatively impacted.
Most dashboard applications provide a base template of systems that an MSP would want to monitor, allowing them to customize the interface to meet their specific technology and client needs. Technology models usually examine CPU load, memory, disk space utilization, network interface traffic, network latency, packet loss, web links, and the software on each device. While there is no set standard, a common goal for many MSPs is to obtain advanced monitoring of the services they have running with each client. That includes process availability and performance counters for their main systems, such as MS Exchange, SQL and Active Directory.
Starting with those basics, you can add in other devices, applications and infrastructures that are critical to your customers’ business operations. You can create separate dashboards with graphics, gauges, lists, text, and web links to quickly assess and respond to issues related to each of these systems.
MSPs can also compare network performance between client sites and create custom views by dragging and dropping gadgets. This allows you to prioritize the systems being monitored and customize the dashboards to provide the proper response for each client. For MSPs with several types of SLAs, this can ensure their employees are able to meet disparate service requirements with a set number of resources.
Respond in Real Time
Today’s MSP dashboards are designed to help you manage multiple client systems and respond appropriately to mitigate the issues ASAP. As mentioned, graphs and gauges can rapidly alert a technician to a potential problem so they can make the needed repairs or adjustments. That’s where remote tools come into play; allowing your team to launch and manage solutions to eradicate certain issues.
After all, what good is it to quickly spot problems with a client’s systems if a rapid response isn’t available? That’s why most MSPs aren’t just focused on the dashboard; they also look for ways to give themselves (and their customers) greater control of the “wheel” to make faster and better course corrections.