Can you rely on your remote support software?

When customers and employees depend on you for tech support, you need to be able to depend on your support technology.

Most of the Bomgar alternatives - GoToAssist, LogMeIn Rescue and Webex Support Center, for example - are SaaS or cloud-based solutions. They host the software. You rent.

Bomgar's model is different. Our appliance-based approach to remote support means customers can own the solution. From a cost perspective, owning always beats renting over time. Owning is more secure, too.

But what are the implications for reliability of service? Can you expect the same standard of reliability from an appliance-based solution that you hope to get from a SaaS solution?

The Deployment Model Is not the Only Thing That Matters

[Photo Credit: aldenjewell]

You could buy a 1971 Ford Pinto, or you could lease a 1971 Ford Pinto. Either way you financed it, you'd still be driving around in a "fire-prone death trap."

 

If the software-as-a-service company you've selected has not invested in redundant architecture and security, it won't be more reliable simply by virtue of the pricing model. Similarly, if the appliance you bought uses refurbished components from a Packard Bell Legend 406CD, you won't benefit from the cost savings typically inherent in ownership. The machine simply won't be up and running long enough for you to realize savings.

Some reliability concerns cannot be solved by changing the deployment model. Still, even the best technology breaks. As R.E.M. sang, "Everybody hurts sometimes."

But the Deployment Model Matters

So if no vendor's product will be perfect, the question becomes, "What happens when it breaks?" All things else being equal, here is where deployment model does have an impact on reliability.

Bomgar's appliance-based approach gives us a distributed model. Changes to one customer's appliance do not affect another customer's appliance. A software-as-a-service vendor has a centralized model. Changes in this model are general and tend to impact everyone using the software.

One process that illustrates this well is software upgrades. When a SaaS vendor issues a new product release, it can push the update out centrally and impact all of its customers. The service vendor has a lot of control.

Our distributed model, in this case, puts the customers in control. We cannot push out the latest version of Bomgar to everyone at once. Instead, we make our new release available, and work with customers to schedule their upgrade on their timeline. Fortunately, we find this brings us closer to our customers by ensuring regular communication, and customers who integrate Bomgar deeply into their infrastructure especially appreciate our upgrade process.

So back to how the distributed and centralized models impact reliability. I've read one software vendor claim "99% uptime" for their service. I won't question the numbers; however, I do want to make an observation:

The 1% downtime was probably wholesale.

 

When a service interruption happens for a cloud vendor, everyone using that instance typically experiences the interruption. Nor does it take a bad cloud vendor to experience a service interruption. Google's Gmail suffered one in April that impacted nearly 10% of its users. (Fortunately, Google communicates well during outages. Lack of communication during a service interruption can cause more consternation than the interruption itself.)

This same wide-scale effect is felt when a cloud vendor experiences a security breach - multiple customers feel the impact. As long as the deployment model is centralized, breaches and outages will be wide-reaching. When it's bad, it's bad.

In contrast, isolation of incidents is a strength of a distributed model. Certainly a Bomgar appliance has experienced trouble in the field, but there has never been a wholesale - or even small scale - Bomgar outage. Our distributed deployment model prevents it. If all the Bomgar appliances in the field do go down, the internet is probably down. World War III has begun. Alien invasion! Be on the alert for zombies!

In all seriousness, the distributed deployment model does isolate any service interruption to single instances of Bomgar - one customer's deployment.

How Does Bomgar Ensure Reliability?

In conclusion, even though the Bomgar appliance is incredibly stable, I'd like to outline some of the options our customers have for enhancing and ensuring the reliability of Bomgar.

Notifications:

Customers with enterprise licenses can use SNMP to monitor the Bomgar appliance for network, hard drive(s), memory, and CPU statistics.
 

Backup:

Customers can back up their software. The backup file will speed time-to-recovery in the event of hardware failure and, if necessary, allow Bomgar to provide you access to temporary hosted services while retaining the settings from your most recent backup. More on that below.

Hardware redundancy:

Two of the three physical Bomgar appliances have built-in hardware redundancy (multiple hard drives, power, etc.), and customers can certainly achieve their redundancy requirements with the virtual appliance. [Compare Bomgar Appliances]

Appliance redundancy:

Customers can deploy multiple Bomgar appliances and configure them in a failover relationship. Customers with large-scale geographical deployments of Bomgar can also implement Bomgar Atlas Cluster Technology to centrally manage multiple appliances and define failover relationships.

Temporary hosted services:

We even have options for Bomgar customers who do not have a second Bomgar Appliance. If one of these customer's appliance is experiencing trouble, Bomgar can provide a temporary site to minimize exposure to the business. If the customer provides us with a backup, the temporary site can use those settings.



We know how critical remote support is. You have to be able to rely on your remote support software because everyone relies on you! Bomgar lets you map out your own redundancy plan rather than relying on a vendor's due diligence. We're grateful that so many companies rely on us for their remote support software, including at this writing:

- 3 of the Top 6 Financial Data Services
- 44 of Top 100 Universities
- 44 of 50 State Governments
- 7 of 14 Fortune 500 Aerospace/Defense
- 12 of 15 Departments of Exec Branch
- 9 of top 20 IT outsource firms

Here's what some of our customers have had to say on Twitter:
 

our @bomgar box has uptime of 444 days.reliability WHAT?If you're in the IT business this box is gold.
— netsop (blar) (@netsop) February 3, 2012

For any of my followers wondering - Bomgar is the best remote support system out there. As an IT guy I use it (almost) daily.
— Shawn Mammon (@ninjahippie) December 1, 2010

We have completed an upgrade/installation of a new remote support appliance. @bomgar continues to keep up with our rapid growth and demands.
— Connected (@connectedgear) October 12, 2012

Justin Brock, Manager of Digital Marketing at Bomgar

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