Article
Dec 27, 2023

IT RMM vs. IoT RMM

Discover the differences between IT RMM and IoT RMM and why it matters when choosing an RMM platform for your business.

RMM Decision Guide
RMM Tech Explained

Introduction to RMM Software

In this post, we discuss the differences between RMM for IT environments vs. RMM tools for IoT applications and why these differences matter when choosing the right RMM platform for your business. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software is a kind of software platform that enables technology teams to maintain and support distributed technology solutions from a remote location. 

There are many different flavors of RMM software that can range from a full suite platform to a highly specific tool for teams managing devices remotely. For example, remote desktop tools allow users to remotely access devices as if they were connected to the device with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor locally. However, remote desktop is just one component of a comprehensive RMM platform. As connected device ecosystems grow in complexity and scale, a broad range of capabilities is required to efficiently operate these systems. Equally important to remote desktop are the abilities to centrally monitor health status of deployed devices and execute remote actions at scale. Together, these three core capabilities compose the basics of an RMM software platform.

IT RMM: RMM for IT Environments and Devices

The majority of RMM tools on the market are catered towards traditional IT environments. These solutions are primarily designed for managed service providers (MSPs) or internal IT teams responsible for managing small to medium sized office environments and the typical technology used in those environments (i.e., laptops, desktops, servers, networking equipment, etc.). This specialization has made traditional RMM platforms highly effective for both IT teams and service providers. Over decades, RMM tools have been refined to offer extensive features for managing typical office technology like laptops and servers. For example, most IT RMM tools specifically offer solutions designed to effectively manage Windows devices due to the prevalence of Windows operating systems in these environments. They offer extensive features such as:

  • Security and Antivirus Management: Ensures the protection of IT systems from malware and security threats.
  • Backup and Recovery: Facilitates the backup of data and systems and restores them in case of loss or damage.
  • Policy Management: Allows setting and enforcing IT policies across an organization’s network.
  • Software Deployment: Streamlines the installation and updating of software on multiple devices.
  • Asset Management: Tracks and manages IT assets like hardware and software licenses.
  • Configuration Management: Oversees and maintains system settings and configurations across the IT infrastructure.
  • Remote Access: Enabling remote sessions with a desktop as if you were physically in front of the device to troubleshoot issues or provide real-time support to end-users. 

Some of the top providers in the IT RMM space, who have been around for decades, are ConnectWise, Kaseya, and NinjaOne. As office environments have become more complex, the typical monitoring solution for an IT Team or MSP has grown to include OEM monitoring tools and third-party tools. These tools are combined to offer remote management capabilities for non-Windows devices such as networking equipment, printers, smart conference rooms, and other IT devices that require remote management.

Another common solution for IT RMM platforms is data center and cloud infrastructure management. These tools focus on managing the servers or cloud infrastructure that operates a business’s backend hosted systems for uptime and availability. Most data centers and cloud environments also employ a combination of tools to manage the operating system as well as OEM or third-party tools to manage the specific equipment deployed in that environment. While similar to the tools used in small to medium office settings, most data center RMM platforms are focused more on more sophisticated server infrastructure as well as tools to manage the software and services running in those environments. These types of tools include companies like SolarWinds, Atera, and ManageEngine.

IoT RMM: RMM for IoT Environments and Devices

Now that we have covered the types of devices and environments traditional IT RMM tools cater to, let’s discuss how RMM platforms are used to manage other smart or IoT devices. First, it is important to note that IoT solutions differ from traditional IT environments in several key areas which makes many of the traditional IT RMM platforms ill-suited for remote management. 

While traditional IT RMM platforms offer some features that are useful for IoT devices, like remote desktop access, they often lack the full suite of tools needed by operators and field service providers to effectively manage a large fleet of IoT devices. This is primarily because IoT management differs significantly from traditional IT RMM in several aspects.

Environment

IoT devices are typically deployed into environments that lack many of the advantages of offices and data center environments. For example, IoT solutions are often deployed without controlled temperature, clean power, and organized deployment locations. In fact, many IoT devices are deployed outdoors or in environments directly exposed to the elements. As such, a remote management solution needs to be capable of monitoring those conditions to provide visibility into their impact on the IoT solution. The teams operating these IoT devices must be able to track solution performance and identify points of failure that stem from those conditions.

Network

Unlike a data center or office environment, where sophisticated network solutions offer robust and redundant connectivity with automatic geographic failover, IoT solutions are often deployed in areas with limited connectivity. Solutions are designed to operate without stable network connectivity and often utilize low bandwidth wireless connectivity or cellular data solutions. In these IoT environments, an RMM solution must function effectively even when a device is offline and should minimize data transfer usage to limit cellular data costs and avoid interfering with other outbound traffic critical for operating the solution.

Remote Hands

Because many IoT solutions are deployed in remote or unattended environments, the availability of someone to troubleshoot a problem is often a constraint. A “truck roll” or onsite technician visit to a remotely deployed device can be very expensive (upwards of $250 for a single visit). With limited onsite support, it is critical for an IoT RMM solution to provide operators with multiple remote and automated recovery options to prevent truck rolls. If an onsite visit is unavoidable, the IoT RMM should equip the technician arriving with information on the nature of the issue, so they have the right equipment or skillsets to resolve that issue in one visit vs. multiple trips.

Scale

In typical office and data center environments having thousands or tens of thousands of managed devices is very rare. In the IoT space, it is much more common for operators to manage thousands of devices. On top of the sheer size difference between IoT and IT deployments, IoT devices are typically dispersed geographically. Due to this inherently more complex ecosystem, an IoT RMM solution should be built for managing devices at scale by offering features that categorize and display devices by type, location, and time zone. These capabilities allow operators to manage complex deployments of IoT devices in a more efficient way from a central location.

Complexity

IoT device deployments typically are custom built to suit the solution use case and frequently have higher levels of technical complexity and customization. For example, operating systems may be Linux or Windows, controllers may be desktop computers or a Raspberry Pi. The solution could have peripherals like touch screens, sensors, printers, scanners, etc. that all need to be supported remotely. These kinds of IoT solutions need an RMM platform that is extensible enough to monitor all aspects and components of the solution, not just controller health. This is where most traditional IT RMM tools fall short, and it highlights the importance of having extensible RMM software specifically built to manage complex, unattended IoT devices.

Considerations When Choosing an RMM for IoT Environments

When selecting an RMM platform to manage IoT solutions, it is essential to focus on platforms that are extensible across device types and equipped to address unique IoT environmental challenges. IoT solutions have unique remote management challenges which do not exist in a typical office or data center, and as a result, are not addressed by traditional IT RMM tools.

This is where an RMM platform like Canopy excels. Canopy has been developed from day 1 with the idea that an RMM solution needs to exist to provide support for these unique environments. We are a team of former technology operators who have managed hundreds of thousands of remotely deployed technology systems and know the complexities of managing smart hardware at scale. Canopy built an RMM platform so IoT solution operators can focus on their core business and not get sidetracked learning how to build RMM software to ensure a high level of uptime and operational efficiency.

If you are interested in learning more about Canopy or understanding if our RMM software may be able to help your business, reach out to our team, and we’ll do a free evaluation of your device solution and support infrastructure. Email us at info@goCanopy.com with the subject line “Free Evaluation” to schedule a call with one of our technical subject matter experts.