Remote Tools For Your Support Team

I hold the PM position at a medium-size IT consulting company, and was recently asked to put together a relatively comprehensive product matrix to help identify and choose a remote support tool that best suited our IT department's needs. My research focused solely on remote support options, and the content of the final matrix is entirely based on my conversations with the vendors' sales and support personnel, as well as information from their official websites.

I realized soon after I started my research that there was a lot of content about three to four well-recognized solutions (Citrix, Webex, LogMeIn, Teamviewer), and that's about it. However, there are a number of cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions that simply do not receive the recognition they deserve.

Here are the results of my research about some of the alternatives in the remote support market. In order to see the full matrix, you must click on the chart directly below, or on the link at the bottom of the article. I hope someone finds this information helpful.

Spoiler alert: I also list our final choice at the bottom of the article.

Click the image to see the product matrix.

Remote support solutions

Product matrix: Remote support solutions. Click

here
to view full matrix.

Main criteria for decision:

1) Ease of use: Offering remote assistance to novice PC users can often be a struggle. Therefore, one of the main requirements was to discover a simple and straightforward connection process.

2) Customization options: We offer support to a number of corporate clients that have strict guidelines for dealing with external "partners". Any mention of a third-party solution for remote access is a major drawback in our situation.

3) Price vs. overall functionality: One of the main goals was to find a solution that offered a solid balance between price and performance, thereby avoiding overpaying for unnecessary features.

Main candidates: GoToAssist Express, Techinline, Teamviewer, LogMeIn Rescue

Candidated that slightly missed the cut: ISL Light, NTR Support, Webex Remote Support

Findings:

Ease of use:

LogMeIn's connection process seems to be relatively simple, but requires a few "back and forth" steps between the remote user and the support agent. Overall, I counted about five steps to establish a connection. Teamviewer's connection process requires installing an executable on the remote user's end. This is something that we tried to avoid in the first place, as a number of users who we deliver support to are not comfortable with anything being installed on their desktops. Techinline is entirely browser-based which allows us to avoid any installation or download apart from a browser add-on (which did give some trouble to novice PC users). Overall, the connection process is the reversal of what we found in LogMeIn Rescue (remote user "initiates" the session instead of the tech by obtaining a generic number) and is a bit shorter. GoToAssist Express offers a very easy connection process without any required downloads or installations. It is very straightforward and easy, as well as short: only 3 steps required.

Customization:

LogMeIn Rescue provides integration capability. There is a white paper available on their website which shows how this can be implemented. Unfortunately, the integration process appears rather difficult and requires an extra fee, therefore I did not get a chance to explore these options in-depth. Teamviewer allows the customer module to be customized with your company's own logo as well as a branded "welcoming" note. This is included in the price of their solution. The executable can be offered as a download from one's own website, which is a big plus. Techinline allows to integrate the service page into your own website design as well as customize the interface of the service by adding a company logo, text, and fonts. This is included in the price and is available with the free trial of their service as well. I was dissapointed to find that GoToAssist Express does not offer any branding or customization capability.

Price/overall functionality:

LogMeIn appears to be the most fully-featured solution on the market. Unfortunately, the price is also steep if you are not looking to utilize a vast majority of their features. Although the drawing tools and diagnostics are useful from time to time, the price of $120/month for this functionality is probably not appealing to most SMBs, especially in the current economic environment. Teamviewer requires a "lifetime charge" of $1,399. This is attractive if you leave out a number of factors such as: future upgrades, support, life cycle of Teamviewer itself, etc. Each upgrade comes at an additional cost, which is a major drawback. Techinline is priced at $300/year, and offers a "pay as you go" pricing model as well (obviously not applicable to us as it is intended for sporadic use). Although lacking some of the functionality offered by its competitors (no Mac support, unattended access, diagnostics, and multiple connections), it is priced at a quarter of LogMeIn Rescue. It is probably a solid fit for users who do not require enterprise-level functionality and only a single connection at a time. GoToAssist Express seems to find a very good balance between pricing (also have "pay as you go") and functionality. It offers most of the essential features and is very easy to use. Their yearly rates are $600 per technician, which also allows to run multiple simultaneous connections.

Final Decision:

After considering these factors and testing the four finalists in a "real-life" environment with existing customers, our decision was to implement Techinline Remote Desktop. Although it is not as fully-featured as LogMeIn Rescue (the "runner-up") or GoToAssist Express, we were able to find practically all of the essential features which we require: file transfer, multi-monitor support, session reporting, user account control (UAC) support. We were disappointed by the lack of Mac compatibility and automatic reconnect after a reboot, but these two features simply did not justify paying an additional $90/month per license for LogMeIn Rescue.

Overall, we were very impressed by the ease-of-use for the remote client, as well as the fact that we are presented with the capability to integrate the client page link into our own website, as well as brand the interface to eliminate practically any mention of a third party product. This should definitely simplify the connection process for our clients even further, and as a result, I am confident that Techinline will prove to be a valuable tool for our remote support needs at least for the next year.

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