For many organizations, endpoint management is one of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks. Even so, proper endpoint management is critical. IT pros have to make sure that endpoints are running the required security updates, are only running authorized software, and are kept in a healthy state. Given the importance of endpoint management, it’s hardly surprising that so many automated endpoint management products exist. Recently though, I heard about Action1 RMM, which is a cost-effective and easy to use solution for remotely managing network endpoints. Being that I wasn’t familiar with Action1 RMM, I decided to check it out for myself.
The Action1 RMM has a really clean layout consisting of a number of tabs on the left side of the screen and six boxes in the middle of the screen that act as shortcuts to the most commonly performed tasks. These tasks include: Install Agents, Installed Apps, Deploy Apps, Update Approval, IT Asset Management, and Alerts. You can see what the interface looks like in the figure below.
This is what the main interface looks like.
In order to manage the endpoints on your network, Action1 RMM needs to deploy agents to those endpoints. I really wish that Action1 RMM was agentless because I have had a lot of problems with the agent deployment process on some of the competing products. Based on my limited testing however, Action1 RMM seems to have one of the most reliable agent deployment mechanisms. I did not run into any issues with the agent deployment process. As you can see in the next figure, Action1 RMM allows you to deploy agents to computers in specific Active Directory locations or to computers on a list. You have the ability to exclude certain systems by name or by role. For example, you can opt to exclude your domain controllers. Another option would be to download the Action1 setup agent and deploy it to your endpoints manually.
This is the screen used for agent deployment.
Much of Action1 RMM’s functionality centers around patch management. The software allows you to create patch management policies that automatically deploy patches to your network endpoints. These patches can be deployed after a specific length of time, according to the patches criticality rating, or based on a manual approval process. For example, an organization could create a policy that deploys critical patches immediately, but that waits a few days before deploying less important patches so that those patches can be adequately tested.
The one thing that really impressed me about the patch management process is that Action1 RMM provides patch management services for a variety of software vendors. As you look at the next figure for example, you can see that there are some Dropbox patches listed just beneath the various Windows Update patches.
Action1 RMM is able to patch software from numerous vendors.
Like competing management and monitoring solutions, Action1 RMM allows you to deploy applications to your network endpoints (it can also uninstall applications). The one thing that really stood out to me however, was that Action1 RMM pre-packages applications for you. I absolutely love this because often times the process of packaging applications is tedious, error-prone, and time-consuming. Obviously, Action1 RMM does not have packages for every single application in existence, but they do have a good selection of applications that are prepackaged. Better still, the company keeps these packages up-to-date so you know that you are always deploying the most recent version of an application. You can see a prepackaged application (Google Chrome) in the figure below.
Action1 RMM packages and maintains many of the most common applications.
One of my favorite features found in Action1 RMM is the alert rules. Alert rules are exactly what they sound like. If Action1 RMM detects a particular condition on your network than it responds to that condition based on the rules that you have put in place. For example, an alert rule could be used to notify a user as to what types of software is installed on a network.
There are countless products on the market that offer some sort of rules feature, and I initially assumed that the alert rules found in Action1 RMM were no different than the alert features found in other products. However, there was one thing that really caught my attention about the alert rules.
The alert rules are extremely flexible and you can create alert rules for practically anything. As I looked at the available rule types I noticed that the software can trigger an alert rule based on processes that are running on a managed endpoint. This means that if you are concerned about a particular piece of software then you could easily create an alert rule based on the processes associated with that software. For example, you might create an alert rule that notifies you if someone is using their PC to run BitTorrent. Similarly, you could conceivably make a list of the process names used by some of the more common Ransomware and then build a series of alert rules that are designed to detect those processes. This could help you to minimize the effects of a Ransomware infection that happens to slip past your other security software. You can see with the screen used to create alert rules looks like in the figure below.
This is the interface used to create alert rules.
Action1 RMM also includes a remote desktop feature. Having the ability to connect to a user’s computer makes troubleshooting far easier than trying to diagnose a problem over the phone. Additionally, the inclusion of such a feature means that organizations who adopt Action1 will not need to purchase a separate remote desktop tool.
Action1 RMM also has a really nice collection of reports that can be run against managed endpoints. Some of these reports are general in nature (such as the Hardware Summary report), while others are extremely granular. For example, you can run reports on the motherboard that is installed in all of your manage systems, or the firmware used by those systems. Reports can be run interactively, but you can also schedule reports to run automatically. These automated reporting capabilities will no doubt be helpful to those who need to comply with regulatory mandates.
Pricing for Action1 RMM varies based on the number of devices that need to be managed. The company charges $1 USD per device per month, and that includes access to all of the Remote Monitoring and Management features. The fee also includes both phone and email support and the company does not lock you into a long-term commitment. Subscriptions can be canceled at any time. Action1 RMM offers a free two-week trial that you can sign up for without using a credit card.
Somewhat surprisingly, Action1 RMM will allow you to manage up to fifty devices for free. While there are plenty of enterprise software companies that offer free community editions of their products, the free versions are almost always lacking key features. In the case of Action1 RMM however, the free version does not expire, does not include ads, and has all of the same features as the Standard Edition.
Whenever I write a review for the site, I like to conclude the review by giving the product a star rating ranging from 0 to 5 stars, with a five-star rating being the highest possible score. All things considered, I decided to give Action1 RMM a score of 4.6 stars, which is a gold star review.
Overall, I really like Action1 RMM. While I do wish that Action1 RMM was an agentless product, I am realistic enough to know that when it comes to PC management, there is only so much that you can do without agents. Besides, the agents never seemed to get in the way or cause problems. My one hope however, is that the company will eventually create agents that allow its product to manage and monitor non-Windows systems.
In any case, I love that the company has gone the extra mile and provided so many prepackaged applications, as well as software patches from a variety of vendors. The software’s reporting engine is also really nice.
One last thing that I want to be sure to mention is that although I reviewed Action1 RMM from the prospective of an organization that needs to manage its network endpoints, the software is also suitable for use by managed service providers.