PlumChoice Helps MSPs Service PCs Without Getting Their Hands Dirty

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

PlumChoice offers turnkey remote support to MSPs and their customers looking to fix thorny desktop PC issues, install new applications or maintain systems.

Remote support is nothing new—most computer manufacturers have been offering some form of remote support for years now. However, vendor-provided support is typically limited to supporting the system "as delivered." While this is great for warranty purposes, most users need more than as-delivered support. After all, PCs don't start to have any real problems until applications are installed, hardware is changed or Web access begins.

PlumChoice Online PC Services is looking to build a bridge that reaches beyond warranty support to offer complete support for any technical issues that a PC user may encounter. PlumChoice offers a remote computer support service that uses a "virtual hands-on approach," allowing PlumChoice's professional technicians to remotely access and repair malfunctioning PCs, install new applications or perform most any other task a user might need.

The service works by setting up a remote control session with a PlumChoice technician, who then takes over the subject system and performs the needed diagnostics and repairs or requested chores. Of course, the PC has to have some functionality to make all of that work; more specifically, the ability to boot and launch a browser session is critical. To control the user's PC remotely, PlumChoice technicians use Citrix Systems' GoToAssist, which is automatically installed when a user visits the appropriate page on the PlumChoice Web site. Technicians remain in contact with the customer via phone during the whole process and explain what they are doing and how they are resolving problems on the PC.

PlumChoice offers to do the following:

  • locate and remove viruses and install and configure anti-virus software; stop pop-ups, remove adware and spyware and install and configure anti-spyware software; install home and small office networks (including wireless networks), ensuring security
  • fix e-mail and software problems
  • fix printer, scanner, digital camera and other peripheral problems
  • help with MP3 players, PDAs and other mobile devices
  • speed up computers and increase performance; provide PC tune-ups
  • perform standard maintenance, Windows updates and patches
  • install, configure and train users on new software and hardware
  • assist in data backup processes and transferring data from one PC to another
  • set up secure wireless networks
  • provide training, or take the user shopping online
  • fix error messages or frozen screens and more

PlumChoice has demonstrated significant success in the end-user support market and is now looking to bring its services to resellers, MSPs (managed service providers) and other service organizations. Currently, the company is offering a fledgling channel program to recruit partners that want to resell the service. Ideally, an MSP can sign up with PlumChoice and then offer access to the service for its customers. At this time, PlumChoice brands all services under its own name, but the company may offer "self-branding" capabilities in the future that would make it more appealing to MSPs.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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