As a GFI MAX fan boy, I have never liked MAXfocus.
When I discovered a RMM tool for the first time, it was GFI MAX. When I started the NOC business our first, second, third customer was GFI user. A good 40% of our customer base presently use GFI MAX. For our Managed service business that we started in 2015, we chose GFI MAX. In 2014 I would have classified myself a GFI MAX fan boy. I have used it extensively. I have also spent good time with 6 other RMMs we support.
Loved & Idolized GFI
The product has never been the best RMM. You might agree. What I loved was the values of the company. They were building hound-dog and driving it towards being a potent RMM. They were a small(ish) business and were very connected to their customers. The product came cheap. The pricing was awesome. Their support tried hard to fix issues.
I was so inspired by GFI, I was emulating their principles in my business. No pesky sales calls, fixed pricing, monthly billing, no minimums, no long term commitment. GFI knew what their customers wanted, it became easier for me to just do as GFI were doing because they knew better and we were serving the same niche.
Best RMM to get started
For a Start-up MSP (I am talking about former techs turning businessmen), GFI was the best RMM to get started. It was all cloud. You could sign up and start monitoring computers in minutes. You had all most all checks you needed in place. 30 days free for all new devices. You could have asset management only, free of cost. It had integrated AV and cloud backup. Take control was much better than VNC/RDP on other RMMs. As a small break fix shop or a 1-3 people business you could not have asked for more.
You are never going to be an automation and scripting guru from day one of your MSP. When beginning you may not even know what you need to automate. Each MSP is different in what they offer and how they do things, there is no set pattern to success.
A special mention for their LinkedIn group. The only group which I setup for real time discussion notiications. There was so much knowledge hidden in those discussions. GFI have given the users a great platform to interact and share. There was often criticism of the RMM on the forum, but it was always received well by GFI. Alistair and other staff were very open and communicative. I have always wanted to attend their yearly conference, but so far I have failed for one reason of other.
Scope for improvement
All that aside, the patch management and scripting still sucked donkey and has made little progress. MDM and MAC agent. The product design has limited overall usability and granularity. But still they managed to reach 12000 MSP customers. That’s incredible, considering they had a product which had some major chinks in the armor.
On most sales calls I get asked this questions “Which RMM do you recommend?”. Everyone looking to start a MSP definitely asks for my opinion on RMMs during a sales call. Depending on their size and requirement I have always recommended GFI either as my first or second choice. It offers the most bang for the buck. Bottom-line.
GFI is now MAXfocus from LogicNow.
Things have changed, but are they headed downhill?
MAXfocus has clearly created their own space in the MSP channel. In 2015, GFI MAX RMM was better than ever. Not the best, but better than what it had been in the past. Then the reshuffle and it was called MAXfocus from LoginNow. A name I don’t like and have not accepted as yet despite all their re-branding efforts. We all still call it GFI in our office. I bet you do too.
Web protection was a good addition to GFI MAX. It worked well, was cheap and could run as scheduled. It was simple to use like other components. There was also option to check bandwidth. But my concern is, why was this top priority. Was this the need of the hour? It was never the top voted idea on the forum. Why not fix other things that desperately need improvement.
We protection was launched
Fixed price backup
LogicNow introduced a well priced fixed-per-device cost backup integrated in the RMM some months back. Lovely. It was received very well. I can say that because we have performed so many new MOB setups for our customers. However, accessing the MOB console from the dashboard is a horror story. The console just doesn’t launch and you have to end up disturbing the user on the computer to check why last night’s backup failed.
GFI launched MAX servicedesk integrated with the RMM. A great addition and since launch it has been fairly good product. It is not as granular as Autotask or as user friendly as Zendesk but it can do the job of automating processes for you. The RMM sync isn’t as tight or dependable as LT and CW. There is much work to be done on the service desk reporting front. But we need to remember its a young product.
Support has not improved
LoginNow support has been really poor in all my interaction over the last year. I want to explain the frustration through a recent conversation I had with a customer regarding the installation of MAXfocus agent on a MS Multipoint server. The agent install kept failing and we had tried every thing possible to try and fix it. So I asked the MSP owner on our weekly call, if we should try to escalate this to GFI support. His answer “I had logged a ticket with them. They sent me some suggestions which were for an exchange server. I didn’t pursue further it based on my prior experience”. On hearing this I let out a loud, involuntary and silly “HAHAHA”.
Maintenance Mode a fail
When they launched maintenance mode, I was the happiest person to hear that news. We could finally suppress those performance alerts when backups ran. If you, as a MSP were bothered with this, think how a NOC (that manages alerts for many MSPs) feels about it. But when I checked the settings in the dashboard, I was disappointed. It didn’t have the granularity to do what we needed. Suppress performance alerts when backups ran(and similar false alerts). We were promised that the feature will be worked on. Months later maintenance mode still doesn’t solve my purpose. It has been the same way with other feature requests.
Pain Points remain
There has been no major improvement on the features front. MDM and MAC support remains fairly poor. Non-Microsoft patches, run time scripting, scripting library, UI challenges remain. Weekly/ monthly reports to customers have a lot of scope for improvement.
The new minimum billing which has now be renamed platform fee has proven to be the last nail in the coffin for some MSPs. Specially, the smaller ones. It has not been received well at all. Same goes for the new MAV – bitdifender. None of my MSP customers have switched to Bitdifender.While I personally believe minimum billing may have been necessary, the amount they decided on was on the higher side. All this has somehow sent out a feeling that LoginNow wants to get rid of their small sized customers.
A space has opened up in the MSP channel. I suspect it is going to get wider. Someone will absorb what MAXFocus loses. It could be Naverisk, but I will put my money on Comodo One for the moment, because its free. Or is MAXfocus team still in connect with their MSP audience?