RMM vs. N-central: How to know which is right for your MSP

By SolarWinds Staff on February 10, 2021

N-able (formerly SolarWinds MSP) is one of the most popular software providers on the market in 2021, with a longstanding reputation for delivering dependable, sophisticated, and user-friendly tools. N-able’s solutions provide managed service providers (MSPs) with the robust capabilities they need to serve their customers, including backup management, mail protection and archiving, password management, PSA and ticketing, and remote support.

MSP businesses will have a variety of different requirements depending on where they are in their development lifecycle. One company owner, for example, might be building a small lifestyle IT business. Another might be grooming their business for acquisition, while another might be running a multisite enterprise with thousands of endpoints under their management. N-able offers two all-in-one remote monitoring and management solutions, N-able® N-central® and N-able RMM, so that businesses can choose a tool designed with their individual needs in mind.

While both N-central and RMM share some common features, there are also a few distinct differences you should be aware of when choosing between them. This guide will outline the differences, helping you choose which solution is best suited for your enterprise.

About N-central

N-central remote monitoring dashboard

N-able N-central is a powerful all-in-one tool designed with a focus on scalability that is particularly well-suited to larger MSPs, especially those looking to grow their IT business. If your MSP places a premium on efficiency, then N-central was built with you in mind. This solution delivers maximum customization, power, and flexibility, allowing you to manage highly diverse customer networks with precision and minimal manual effort. N-central is highly automated and offers rule-based workflows, which allow you to onboard, configure, monitor, and patch thousands of machines quickly and easily.

N-central is available as either an on-premises or hosted solution, allowing you to dictate what works best for you. The N-central solution’s key features include endpoint detection and response, network topology mapping, remote monitoring, patch management, automation management, backup management, security management, report management, and much more.

The N-central endpoint detection and response capabilities—which help MSPs prevent, detect, and respond to constantly evolving threats—provide users with an advanced and proactive security solution. With N-central, your business is able to recover rapidly when ransomware or other exploits strike. This tool’s EDR features include automated rollback, policy-driven automation, near real-time file analysis, signatureless approach, behavioral artificial intelligence engines, forensic analysis, autonomous responses to threats, and protection even when endpoints are offline.

N-central remote monitoring and remote access features are also extensive, allowing your technicians to perform maintenance and fix issues without ever having to leave their desk—which is becoming increasingly important in this day and age. This means you can provide rapid support and increase customer satisfaction with fewer costs. To further increase customer satisfaction, the N-central remote monitoring utilities are complemented by robust reporting capabilities.

N-central report manager allows you to create detailed, custom reports, so you can clearly demonstrate your value to customers. Reports can be exported in multiple formats, both default and custom. These reports are versatile and can include an executive summary, network assessment, security overview, device and capacity management, patch reports, and help desk reports—all of which provide helpful insights to be shared with your technicians and customers.

Finally, as previously mentioned, a huge benefit of N-central is the automation manager. This feature allows you to leverage automation without needing to learn a new scripting language, boosting technician efficiency and allowing you to focus on providing value-adding services. With drag and drop functionality, as well as pre-written policies, the automation manager makes automating key processes simple and efficient.

Importantly, N-central organizes your services and customers into a single interface. With a consolidated dashboard, this all-in-one solution allows you to monitor and manage Windows, Linux, Mac, virtual machines, and network devices. Your technicians will save time by avoiding the need to flip between a multitude of tools, not to mention the customizable scripts to suit specific customer or device-type needs.

Overall, these capabilities make N-central a tool that is perfect for established managed services providers with their sights set on expansion. N-central can help you improve technician efficiency, service margins, and customer retention as you grow. A 30-day free trial of N-central is available for MSPs that want to give it a try.

About N-able RMM

SolarWinds RMM monitoring dashboard

N-able RMM (formerly SolarWinds RMM), much like N-central, is a powerful and scalable all-in-one solution. However, it was designed specifically for MSPs that consider simplicity and efficiency to be a top priority, making it a great fit for smaller companies who want a solution that will allow them to hit the ground running. This cloud-based tool helps managed services providers deliver valuable IT services in a matter of hours.

RMM allows you to achieve the job of multiple pieces of software through a single interface, helping you secure, maintain, and improve your clients’ IT systems in a streamlined way. It has also recently added password management and IT documentation management utilities to RMM—via N-able Passportal. These capabilities include full integration of IT documentation into a single tool, a password-management-as-a-service solution that managed services providers can sell to their customers or use to add value to their current offering, and a mobile self-service password reset feature that reduces the number of reset request tickets received by your support technicians.

Another feature of RMM is NetPath, which helps you understand your customers’ network performance and infrastructure beyond the firewall, from source to destination. This gives your technicians access to 24/7 remote monitoring and history, performance and quality of service monitoring, full network visibility, and detailed node/hop information.

Much like N-central, RMM also provides out-of-the-box monitoring templates, fast and safe remote access, patch management capabilities, managed antivirus, web protection, data-breach risk intelligence, and backup and recovery. It is a comprehensive tool that is suited to both small and large MSPs alike but is best for those looking for those looking to get started quickly and grow with ease as their business expands. A 30-day free trial of RMM is available.

RMM vs. N-central: The key differences

As you may have noticed, there is an overlap between the foundational capabilities that N-central and RMM offer. It is, however, important that MSPs understand the difference between these two solutions so that they can choose the one that best suits their operations. Generally speaking, RMM is an all-in-one solution suited to smaller companies, while N-central was created for larger or rapidly expanding organizations. Initially, N-central was launched as an on-premises solution and RMM was fully cloud-based. In recent years, however, N-able has made N-central available in the cloud as well.

N-central and RMM also differ in their approach and focus. N-central was designed with an emphasis on helping customers scale their IT business using layered automation capabilities. Its aim is to streamline and automate your monitoring and management operations to accommodate rapid growth. RMM, on the other hand, focuses on delivering simplicity, enabling companies to get started right away and expand at their own pace.

As a solution built to manage complex networks, N-central is especially suited to those operating, for example, a network operating center. N-central is also a good choice for businesses that have outgrown their current RMM solution and are looking for new features, like more extensive automation capabilities and more granular management capabilities.

RMM, on the other hand, is a good option for companies that are looking for software that will allow them to start offering services to customers right away. You might also choose RMM if you prefer to pay only for what you use. With no minimum purchase quantity, you can start small with RMM and pay as you grow.

Some other key differences between N-central and RMM include:

  • Both RMM and N-central offer 24/7 support availability, but RMM also provides online support while N-central does not.
  • N-central gives you the option of face-to-face training, while RMM does not. Both RMM and N-central, however, offer ample documentation, webinar, and live online training support.
  • N-central offers a number of features not provided by RMM, including project management, bandwidth monitoring, baseline management, diagnostic tools, and integration with BrightGauge.
  • RMM offers a number of features not provided by N-central, including live chat, CRM capabilities, and integration with HarmonyPSA.

Which Is right for your MSP?

To summarize, while N-able RMM is better suited to smaller organizations that want to streamline their operations with software that is fast and easy to set up, N-central is designed for larger managed services providers that may be anticipating rapid expansion. If you still aren’t certain which of these tools is right for you, it’s probably a good idea to get in touch with the team and they will tailor your advice to your company’s specific circumstances and requirements.

To try either all-in-one solution, access a free trial of RMM here or a free trial of N-central here.

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