Best Managed Service Provider (MSP) Tools 2022

As competition continues to increase, a wide range of software and services are now available to help managed service providers (MSP) optimize their offerings and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, covering everything from remote monitoring and management to professional services automation.

According to the results of a recent survey of 419 MSPs worldwide, fully 85 percent of MSPs see opportunities to grow their business, and 59 percent have expanded their services portfolios within the past 12 months. The services currently seeing the greatest increase in demand include backup and recovery (48 percent) and business applications (39 percent).

See our picks for the The Top 22 IT Channel Partners

The Top Tools and Software for MSPs

If you’re considering adding new tools and services to your portfolio, now is a great time to do so. In the sections below, we’ll walk you through 10 different types of MSP tools and look at two of the top providers for each. We’ve broken them down by core MSP management tools, services opportunities, and added some channel tools used by IT vendors to round out the list. If you want to look closer at any of these markets, we’ve included a link to more of the top products in each category. The categories and providers we look at here include:

MSP Management Tools

ITSM tools

Information technology service management (ITSM) is a critical tool in the MSP arsenal. ITSM tools manage the design, creation, delivery, support, and management of information technology (IT) services throughout their lifecycle – including end user services as well as the underlying applications, hardware, and infrastructure. The tools help both to resolve problems efficiently and to maximize ROI. In recent years, ITSM tools have evolved from mostly on-premises solutions to cloud-based systems designed to support remote and hybrid work environments, artificial intelligence, and FinOps. New functions include virtual agents and chatbots, along with tighter integration with knowledge management and IT operations management (ITOM). Here are two leading ITSM solutions worth considering:

Ivanti

Ivanti Neurons for ITSM is capable of functioning as an IT helpdesk and support ticket solution, or as a full-featured ITSM and ITIL service management platform. The solution, which offers fully automated workflows, can be deployed on premises or in the cloud. MSPs can offer Ivanti solutions on a subscription basis, providing delivery and management of network-based services, applications, and equipment. Key strengths include:

  • Incident management system handles inbound ticket requests from any channel
  • Track assets across their lifecycle, including contracts, warranty, and financial information
  • Automatic detection, diagnosing, and healing of endpoint issues
  • Voice automation
  • Adapt, design, and take control of workflows without any coding
  • Named as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for ITSM Tools

ServiceNow

ServiceNow is a cloud-based service built on the company’s Now Platform, which is designed to enable organizations to break down silos, share data, deliver engaging user experiences, and drive cross-department workflows. ServiceNow ITSM includes request management, knowledge management, incident management, change management, and workforce and process optimization. Key strengths include:

  • Now Platform runs on an available, secure, and scalable cloud architecture
  • Now Intelligence leverages in-platform analytics, AI, and machine learning to surface information, make predictions, and automate repetitive tasks
  • ServiceNow’s IntegrationHub provides low-code integration, enabling MSPs to connect to hundreds of critical business systems in minutes
  • ServiceNow Multi-tenant Platform Architecture helps MSPs quickly on-board new customers and simplify ongoing administration
  • Named as a Leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for ITSM Tools

For more on the top TSM tools, see Best ITSM Tools & Software for MSPs 2022

RMM tools

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) software supports management of client IT systems like desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and services. RMM tools help administrators automate standard managed IT functions, improve visibility into client machines, respond to threats, and streamline tasks. RMM tools are particularly important for MSPs that need to monitor and support clients’ increasingly complex and distributed IT environments to ensure continuous uptime. RMM tools often incorporate both remote desktop software (RDS) and professional services automation (PSA) solutions. Here are two leading RMM tools worth considering:

ConnectWise

The company’s two RMM offerings, ConnectWise RMM and ConnectWise Automate, are both part of its suite of Unified Monitoring and Management solutions. Automate focuses on providing administrators with a bundle of automated capabilities and visibility across hybrid IT environments. The cloud-based ConnectWise Platform supports speedy adoption of new tools, techniques, and programming methods, and focuses on combining the best of software automation and human-led customization. A quiz on ConnectWise’s website helps determine the right RMM tool for your needs, and free trials of both solutions are available. Key strengths include:

  • Pre-defined commands for automating complex desktop and server updates
  • Integrated virtualization managers for agentless management of Hyper-V and VMware
  • A single intuitive interface for patching, reports, and third-party app management
  • Automated network scans showing health status of supported systems and devices
  • Alternative to AD Group Policies with enhanced asset discovery and agent deployment

NinjaOne

The company launched with a singular focus on the RMM tool NinjaRMM, adding more MSP-targeted products and rebranding as NinjaOne in October 2021. NinjaRMM provides MSPs with robust monitoring and alerting that automatically generates notifications and tickets, and a policy management engine for easy automation across networks. Fully integrated, one-click remote access tools enable administrators to take control of endpoint management to provide support and maintenance for Windows, Mac, Linux, SNMP and VMWare devices, though NinjaOne also offers an end user self-service IT portal to give clients agency over devices. A 14-day free trial is available. Key strengths include:

  • Comprehensive infrastructure monitoring with custom alerts, tickets, and health data
  • Built-in cloud file and folder backup solution
  • Endpoint protection can be automated with fully managed antivirus
  • Automated patch and configuration management
  • Powerful scripting and automation capabilities to save time and boost productivity

For more on RMM solutions, see Best RMM Software 2022: Remote Monitoring & Management Tools

Help Desk software

Help desk tools are crucial in ensuring that MSPs’ offerings meet clients’ expectations by providing them with the support they need. These tools allow MSPs to improve, secure, and capitalize on the services they offer, helping providers to foster positive and thriving client relationships. Here are two leading help desk tools worth considering:

Freshdesk

Freshdesk’s support desk solution, leveraged by more than 50,000 businesses, simplifies customer support with a scalable and easy to launch offering that leverages intelligent automation processes to automate agent routing and workflows, and resolve route questions with bots and AI. The solution is designed to provide everything needed to deliver effortless customer support by simplifying multi-channel ticketing, providing intuitive customer portals, delivering faster resolutions with contextual insights. A rich knowledge base provides customers with personalized support. Key strengths include:

  • Prioritize, categorize, and assign tickets to the right agents
  • Track and manage incoming support tickets from multiple channels with one inbox
  • Agent collision detection to ensure that multiple agents don’t work on the same ticket by accident
  • SLA management to set deadlines for ticket response and resolution
  • Ticket field suggester helps categorize, prioritize, and route incoming tickets
  • Scenario automation can enable multiple actions on a ticket with a single click

Zendesk

Zendesk is designed to provide a complete, easy-to-use, and scalable customer service solution that enables support over messaging, live chat, social, email, or voice, with an integrated help center and community forum that help users resolve issues at their own pace, reducing resolution times. A unified agent workspace makes it easier to track, prioritize and respond to customers, with more than 1,000 pre-built integrations to improve support. Built-in routing and intelligence collect critical details and reduce data entry, while escalating issues to the agent best suited to resolve them. Key strengths include:

  • Automation and AI-powered bots acquire context and improve personalization
  • Collaboration tools efficiently connect with internal and external partners
  • Powerful integrations options include code and no-code functionality
  • Integrated knowledge management enables agents to contribute expertise
  • Analytics and reporting work across sales, service, and third-party systems

For more on the help desk software market, see The Best Help Desk Tools for MSPs

PSA tools

Professional services automation (PSA) tools automate routine tasks like billing, reporting, and schedule management. Like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software but for service organizations, PSA software centralizes and automates business processes and data for a more efficient, consistent, and transparent project lifecycle. While many MSPs rely on specialized tools for invoicing, scheduling, time tracking, resource planning and business intelligence, a PSA solution combines them into a single platform, simplifying administration and decreasing costs. By automating routine tasks like data entry and billing, the solution can improve efficiency and boost productivity.

Most MSPs also use their PSAs for customer relationship management (CRM) rather than pay extra for a standalone CRM solution, notes Forrester channel analyst Jay McBain.

“Most MSPs either can’t afford Salesforce or don’t have the scale to make it successful,” McBain said. “There are some homegrown solutions like Honey but most MSPs use their PSA for CRM functionality.”

Here are two leading PSA tools worth considering:

Atera

Atera’s solution combines PSA with RMM in a single package, enabling users to automate repetitive tasks while searching for and fixing potential errors as needed. The platform offers extensive automation tools, detecting opportunities to upsell and patch software automatically. A straightforward onboarding process helps employees get used to the new system, enabling a quicker ROI, and a single, intuitive 360-degree view helps you manage all customers. The company’s pricing makes it ideal for smaller or newer MSPs, with a 30-day free trial and no contracts or deposits required. Key strengths include:

  • Organizes all customer information in one place, including contacts, contracts, SLA, devices, and tickets
  • Intuitive ticketing and time tracking system designed specifically for MSPs and ITSPs
  • Flexible contracts and services support differentiated rates for off hour work, projects, third party products and more
  • Integrates with QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, and Xero
  • Fully brandable customer portal enables customers to track tickets, access knowledge base posts, and open their own tickets
  • Intelligent analytics measure support load, activities, customer satisfaction, billing, and support team performance

Autotask

Datto’s Autotask cloud-based PSA helps MSPs centralize business operations and make data-driven decisions to improve service, productivity, and profitability. The solution combines mission-critical tools in customizable dashboards and widgets designed to help you make data-driven decisions. The company emphasizes its security and reliability, boasting 99.99 percent uptime. Open architecture and more than 200 integrations with industry-leading third-party tools let teams customize the platform to suit their particular needs and maximize business efficiency. Key strengths include:

  • Single pane of glass view across the business provides a central hub for MSP operations
  • Powerful analytics and intuitive dashboards provide actionable business insights
  • Dashboards, widgets, and ticket categories can be customized for each individual PSA user
  • Visual timeline highlights SLAs and ensures standardization with checklists that prescribe required steps for ticket resolution
  • Event triggers can be set up to automate workflows and improve efficiency
  • Native LiveMobile application for iOS and Android access to all available dashboards and worklists on the go

For more, see Top PSA Tools & Software for MSPs 2022

MSP Services Opportunities

Cloud Migration tools

Cloud migration can be an expensive undertaking, with the average server costing between $1,000 and $3,000 to move, and complicated migrations costing up to $15,000 per server. Cloud migration tools can help MSPs lower costs while improving the cloud migration experience for their clients. Migration tools help businesses organize and manage the transfer of data and applications between on-premises environments and the cloud, typically keeping data secure and preventing loss by encrypting and backing up the data before moving it. Many platforms also include automated discovery tools to identify dependencies and optimize the process. Here are two leading cloud migration providers worth considering:

Carbonite

Carbonite Cloud Migration is designed to make it quick and easy to migrate physical, virtual and cloud workloads over any distance with minimal risk and near-zero downtime. The automated process pares down 100 manual steps into five, and leverages AES 256-bit encryption to pass the data securely over the wire. The solution uses real-time, byte-level replication technology to create a replica of the entire server being migrated, keeping it in sync with production systems both to ensure that the migrated data can be validated without disrupting business operations, and to limit downtime to the seconds or minutes required for cutover to the cloud. Key strengths include:

  • Structured repeatable migration with near-zero downtime and no data loss
  • Highly automated process that eliminates risks and streamlines migrations
  • Freedom from lock-in to a specific cloud, hypervisor, or piece of hardware
  • Supports VMware vSphere, VMware vCloud Director, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure Classic, Microsoft Azure Resource Manager, Google Cloud, and OpenStack environments

Corent

Corent SurPaaS Migration-as-a-Service (MaaS) is a cloud automation platform that simplifies cloud migrations and helps MSPs lower cloud spend for their clients. Detailed assessments identify the order in which apps should be migrated, then the company’s SmartShift feature re-architects and re-platforms the application to improve cloud performance. The platform automates the application modernization process, and automatically migrates appropriate workloads to containers and Kubernetes. Corent supports most public cloud providers and includes migration for both servers and applications. The solution can be white labeled and integrated into your cloud engagement process. Key strengths include:

  • Generate multiple reports to clarify the factors involved in migrating an application to the cloud, including a detailed compatibility analysis
  • Provides a forecasted budget analysis with detailed cost breakdown for various cloud options
  • Several different migration methodologies are available to meet different business needs and application environment complexities
  • CIO Dashboard provides a high-level summary of infrastructure/application and cloud recommendations/advisories

For more on cloud migration tools and services, see:

Backup and Recovery Platforms

Backup and recovery services are now offered by fully 90 percent of MSPs worldwide, who say they’ve seen a greater increase in demand for those services than for any other since the start of the pandemic, according to the Barracuda Networks survey we cited at the beginning of this article. While cloud services can make it slower to fully recover files if the applications being employed are running in an on-premises IT environment, the cost of storing backup on premises is far higher than it is in the cloud. The challenge lies in striking a balance between recovery and cost in an increasingly competitive sector. Here are two leading backup and recovery platforms worth considering as MSP partners:

Barracuda Networks

The Barracuda Networks Intronis Backup offering is based on a software-as-service platform that’s made available to MSPs at a fixed cost per customer site. It supports both physical and virtual machines, with the latter recoverable in minutes. A separate Cloud-to-Cloud Backup offering is available for Office 365 data. MSP partners have access to a comprehensive onboarding program, technical support, online training and certification, dedicated partner account managers, and a sales and marketing enablement hub designed to help MSPs effectively market, sell, and support the company’s solutions. Key strengths include:

  • Fixed pricing makes it easier for MSPs to build margins, making data protection a growth driver
  • QuickSpin disaster recovery tools allows virtual machine recoveries in minutes
  • Includes management and reporting tools needed to support clients effectively, and integrates tightly with core MSP business tools
  • Fully re-brandable offering empowers partners to develop brand equity and loyalty

Quest

Quest Rapid Recovery leverages image-based snapshots up to every five minutes to enable MSPs to achieve recovery point objectives. It offers non-disruptive recovery to help clients get back to work faster with no impact to the work environment, and includes built-in data deduplication tools to reduce data storage costs. Rapid Recovery includes purpose-built MSP features and multi-tenant architecture designed to make it easy for MSPs to manage hundreds of clients’ systems, applications, and data running on physical and virtual servers in both the data center and the cloud, all from a single Web-based console. Key strengths include:

  • Protects a variety of Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Oracle applications and data
  • Virtual Standby capability helps MSPs differentiate their data protection services by offering near-instant recovery to a virtual machine after a system failure
  • Uses encryption libraries certified for FIPS 140-2 Level 1, as well as GDPR compliance to meet security and regulatory compliance concerns
  • Reduces storage requirements and costs up to 95 percent with built-in, in-line fixed block deduplication and optimized compression

For more on backup services and tools, see Starting an MSP Backup and Recovery Business: IT Partner Options

Ransomware Backup Protection

In response to the growing prevalence of ransomware attacks, many backup providers now offer extra protection to their offerings to defend against ransomware. For the MSP community, this makes it easy to offer a wide range of functionality to help users recover data from a ransomware attack. Here are two leading ransomware backup protection providers worth considering:

Clumio

Clumio Protect provides secure backup as a service for AWS, offering ransomware and bad actor protection with a low Recovery Time Objective (RTO) to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs). All data is encrypted both in-flight and at rest, and backups are air-gapped and immutable to ensure that data cannot be altered. Data can be restored in minutes at any level of granularity required – file, directory, volume, database, record – to any AWS account or region not compromised by an attack. Clumio boasts 100 percent customer data recovery from ransomware attempts, and 60 percent typical savings in time spent managing backups. Key strengths include:

  • Single pane of glass to set global backup policies, providing a centralized view of S3 protection policies across different buckets, accounts, and regions
  • Data deduplication and file level restore across all environments
  • Provides MSPs with all APIs and automation for full integration into existing platforms as an additional service
  • User interface has no ability to delete backups, ensuring that even if a hacker gets access to your credentials, there’s nothing they can do
  • Certifications include ISO 27001, SOC II Type 1, SOC II Type 2, HIPAA, and PCI DSS

Druva

Druva’s cloud-first MSP program is designed to minimize the infrastructure MSPs need to deliver data protection and backup services, with ransomware protection included – unusual data activity alerts leverage machine learning to detect potential ransomware activity and identify the last known good snapshots for ransomware recovery. The company’s SaaS-based delivery model offers a zero-touch onboarding experience that takes as little as 15 minutes, and a service center console gives partners the ability to manage service levels with customizable plans, gain visibility into storage consumption across customer accounts, and review customer health in real time. Key strengths include:

  • Search and delete malicious files across all endpoint backups to prevent re-infection, including bulk scanning for IOCs
  • SOAR integration for centralized response and recovery via ransomware recovery playbooks
  • Enhanced recovery features enable orchestrated recovery, with flexible recovery options
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing ensures predictable, controlled costs
  • Meets security and compliance requirements including SSAE18 SOC2 Type II, FedRAMP, FIPS, HIPAA, GDPR, TRUST-E, and APPI

For more on backup solutions for ransomware protection, see:

Incident Response tools

Cybersecurity is a huge opportunity for MSPs (and MSSPs too of course), and given how big security issues have become, MSPs can expect to be hearing from customers about security more and more. There are plenty of IT vendors for MSPs to partner with; Forrester channel analyst Jay McBain notes that “security has 2,000 partner-friendly vendors today with a program and portal.” That’s a lot to choose from so we’ll try to narrow your focus to get you started.

MSPs should be prepared for their customers asking for help with security issues, and incident response is a very good place to start, especially as most MSP clients don’t even have incident response plans. As cybersecurity threats continue to impact organizations of all kinds, an effective incident response service is an increasingly necessary part of any MSP’s arsenal. These tools will help develop an incident response plan, while offering tools that define the roles and actions necessary as part of response. Here are two leading incident response service providers worth considering:

Cynet

Cynet’s incident response service combines security analysis experience with the Cynet360 Autonomous Breach Detection Platform, an XDR agent that can be deployed to 5,000 endpoints in under an hour and integrates next-generation anti-virus, endpoint detection and response, user behavioral analytics, network detection and response, and deception. The company’s 24/7 security team acts as the client’s extended team, leading any required analysis to ensure results. Setup is fast and scalable, and a dedicated incident response project manager and point of contact provides regular updates at least daily, and typically every few hours. Key strengths include:

  • Reports ranging from executive summaries to detailed IoCs that can be exported to CSV
  • Cynet360 can be kept in place post-response if needed to provide security against future breaches
  • Based on indicators of attack (IOAs), Cynet provides recommendations and mitigations on the endpoint, as well as across the IT and security environment
  • A wide range of reporting is available, include an executive-level summary as well as detailed technical reports for security and IT teams

Secureworks

Secureworks leverages its Taegis XDR threat prevention, detection and response platform as an incident response tool, offering a single pane of glass view for telemetry and logs from over 50 different types of event sources, including endpoint detection and response agent, scan-based telemetry, cloud telemetry, endpoint events, and network devices. The company has been providing on-site incident response services for over 10 years, and now handles more than 1,000 incident response engagements annually. Secureworks’ behavioral threat analytics are powered by a combination of machine learning and deep learning, trained using threat intelligence and user data. Key strengths include:

  • Automated containment actions across endpoint, network, and cloud environments
  • Combines human and machine intelligence to improve security, with security experts actively monitoring over 300 threat groups
  • Cloud-native solution complements existing infrastructure by correlating events from multiple security tools
  • Analytics-based detectors identify previously unknown threats, eliminate noise, and speed up investigations

For more on incident response and other security tools for MSPs, see:

IT Vendor Partner Tools

PRM software

MSPs will interact with these tools in one way or another, but they’re mainly for IT vendors to use to manage their partner programs.

Partner relationship management (PRM) software simplifies management of channel partners by automating and enhancing vendor-partner processes. These solutions allow organizations to build custom portals for partners, reward successful sales teams, manage lead and deal registration policies, and strategically develop partner relationships. Key benefits of PRM tools can include improved collaboration between vendors and partners, centralized visibility into partner-specific analytics, informed decision-making throughout the partner relationship lifecycle, faster introduction of new products to partners – and more broadly, a more productive channel relationship. Here are two leading PRM tools worth considering:

Impartner

Impartner PRM is a fully SaaS, cloud-enabled, enterprise-class solution for managing, optimizing and accelerating every aspect of the channel, from partner recruiting, to cooperatively marketing and selling, to managing partner performance. The solution can integrate seamlessly with Salesforce and other CRMs, or can perform that role itself. The company’s PRM solution offers automated partner onboarding with approval routing and contract management, deal registration and management, partner analytics and reporting, an asset library for document sharing, and a WYSIWYG CMS to control portal content and pages. Key strengths include:

  • Channel Flow workflow engine enables real-time processes and workflows updates
  • SegmentAI segmentation engine enables partner segmentation by any attribute
  • SmartContent asset management ensures the right partners get the right asset at the right time
  • Event Calendar promotes events and drive engagement by simple plan sharing
  • Named as a Leader in the Forrester Wave for Partner Relationship Management

Zift Solutions

ZiftONE Partner Management includes an intuitive portal manager to support partner marketing and sales, providing unique portal experiences to meet different partner needs based on role or segment. Out-of-the-box reporting and dashboards provide comprehensive insights to track partner engagement and ROI across your program. Discrete segments can be created based on partner behaviors and program tiers, allowing you to provide targeted communications and control access to content, training, marketing and sales tools by planned segments, and to reward partner accomplishments by unlocking new content. Key strengths include:

  • Guided onboarding increases efficiency and ensures consistency in performance
  • Sensitive material can be delivered to qualified partners through the portal or via to-partner communications
  • Digital asset management tools help organize customer-facing and partner-facing content
  • Program dashboards help track and manage deals throughout their lifecycle
  • All channel intel can sync automatically from ZiftONE to CRM systems to maintain data in key business systems
  • Named as a Leader in the Forrester Wave for Partner Relationship Management

For more on the PRM market, see Best Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Software 2022

CIM solutions

Channel incentive management (CIM) software helps organizations establish and optimize rewards, rebates, promotions, and marketing promotions to motivate partners and drive sales performance. In an increasingly complex and increasingly global IT channel ecosystem, CIM tools help channel program operators take a strategic approach to deploying incentives. In addition to data collection and sales lifecycle management, incentive management solutions give clients the granular structure and visibility required to maximize channel performance, from MDFs (marketing development funds) to empower partner marketing efforts to SPIFFs (sales program incentive funds) to drive sales for short-term strategies. Here are two CIM solutions worth considering:

360insights

Serving the channel ecosystem since 2008, 360insights serves over 150 leading brands with 20 million incentives claims processed and $66 million in client savings. The company significantly expanded its position in the market in 2020 when it acquired channel vendors CR Worldwide and Perks WW. The company’s flagship product is its cloud-based Channel Success Platform, which provides channel operators with a single pane of glass to develop strategies and optimize budget utilization and returns. Actionable insight and business intelligence help assess current offerings and assess how changes will impact future programs. Key strengths include:

  • Multiple rebate options including volume incentive, consumer, and instant rebates
  • Engages partners through an effective employee recognition program
  • Cash sales incentives and short-term payouts through SPIFF campaigns
  • Sell-through allowances offer visibility into prices and necessary margins
  • MDFs and co-op funds management help build market demand and bolster marketing

Fielo

Fielo has been a Salesforce-native platform for incentive automation since 2013, and its market share was bolstered in 2021 by its acquisition of leading channel management software provider Gage Marketing. Fielo Channel Incentives is designed to provide clients with a seamless online experience for designing and managing incentive program policies. A simple point-and-click interface enables an intuitive process of defining incentive specifications and designing a full-featured partner portal. A wide variety of reward program types are supported, including a points program, rebate program, SPIFF program, funds program, referral program, and level program. Key strengths include:

  • How-to workshops and online learning resources provide best-practice guidance
  • Support for email campaigns, external messaging integrations, and incentives actions messaging
  • Incentives can be configured for single or multiple activities, by gamification, and more
  • Easy integration with external reward programs, Salesforce BSB Commerce, and open APIs
  • Extensive analytics engine gathers insights, determines top performing members, calculates revenue generated, and more

For more on CIM options, see Top Channel Incentive Management Software of 2022

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and a contributor to TechnologyAdvice websites for more than a decade, including 12 years as a security writer for eSecurity Planet.

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