by Jeremy J. Glowacki
It’s great when a new product release excites a manufacturer’s dealer base. Things can get weird, however, when that manufacturer has to inform interested dealers that a certain product wasn’t meant for them.
It doesn’t happen often, but ihiji experienced that exact scenario recently when it launched a new private beta program intended for IT professionals and VARs (value-added resellers) rather than its traditional residential AV integrator dealer base. Although the new product is based on the same cloud-based architecture as the company’s well-established residential remote monitoring and management (RMM) product, called invision, this new network management solution is going to have added complexity and “details exposed” that aren’t necessarily useful to the average AV integrator, ihiji VP of technical operations Michael Maniscalco, explained.
“This product isn’t going to fit the residential integrator’s needs,” he said. “It’s not going to have automation integration, and it’s not going to have AV support.”
The good news for the resi channel, however, is that many of the features that will evolve over the next 6-12 months for the IT product will then “trickle over” to the residential product.
“Our current dealers are going to see a lot of benefit out of this process, long-term,” Maniscalco acknowledged. “There will be two very different products, just built on the same platform.”
ihiji's NMaaS network appliance, the INV-APP-500
Some of those features may include what is known as “ticket management” in the IT world, or “issue management tracking” that’s widely used in IT for managing service-level agreements (SLAs) and issues as they arise on managed networks, requiring remote diagnostics.
“I think that will be very valuable for residential AV integrators. We’re uncovering a lot of problems that they didn’t know existed,” Maniscalco said. “A lot of guys [in the residential AV channel] are struggling to put the right processes in place to manage all of the alerts that they are seeing, and a ticketing system will help a lot with that.
Currently, ihiji’s invision solution is designed to monitor the status of switches, access points, phone systems, routers, and IP-enabled AV gear. That technology provides AV integrators with the ability to perform remote reboots of devices through software and/or IP power management devices (SurgeX is a partner). But if the integrator has to do anything beyond that they have to launch other utilities that while familiar to any IT professional, are foreign to a high percentage of AV integrators.
“They have to VPN into the site or use some other remote access tool,” Maniscalco noted. “Unfortunately only about 25 percent of dealers in our residential space have access to VPN tools.”
Although ihiji did create a new remote access server that enables residential dealers to overcome this limitation, there’s still a better and less expensive way to perform these tasks. That’s, Maniscalco said, will be part of the IT product.
“For the IT product, I think we’ll make that process even more efficient and remove the need for that server over the next 6-12 months,” he explained. “That’s one of the big features: remote tunneling capability without complexity or cost.”
For the IT professionals and VARs reading this, here’s why you might be interested in ihiji’s Network Management as-a-Service (NMaaS) beta program. The new IT-centric product is meant for small to medium IT organizations who manage a large number of remote branch locations, and for those instances where a traditional server-based remote monitoring and management tool is not practical due to requirements, scope, or budgetary constraints.
The dashboard for the NMaaS IT solution
“Often times the full toolset provided by a typical RMM solution is more complex than what is needed at a small or medium business or branch location which typically only requires network management and basic server information,” Maniscalco stated in the company’s beta program press release. “The ihiji solution is a cost effective and powerful option that can fill the void within many managed service providers’ (MSPs) offerings. In fact, our scalable platform can be used in tandem with traditional RMM software for installations which require more robust server or workstation management.”
According to Maniscalco, ihiji’s network management solution will enable a business to evolve, progressively moving to more efficient and effective cloud-based services. The company’s low-cost appliance makes multiple site support possible without the added expense of numerous dedicated servers. Likewise, ihiji replaces the expense and hassle of managing an enterprise RMM infrastructure with the convenience of a single network management tool. Because it is not tied to a particular manufacturer, ihiji’s solution also monitors equipment from multiple vendors.
Maniscalco said that the evolution of invision features for the residential channel will run concurrently with the 6-12-month IT beta program.
With this next-generation solution now in private beta, ihiji is seeking participants from the SMB and/or IT VAR channels. Interested parties are encouraged to learn more by visiting http://itbeta.ihiji.com/, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 512.538.0520 ext. 2003.