Updated Customer Portal
ConnectWise will be adding a new dashboarding type of feature for MSPs to share with their end clients. End clients will be able to login to this portal and see useful information about what their MSP is doing for their business via the ConnectWise platform. There will be the ability to include and display custom style reports created by 3rd party web reporting applications (ex: ProVal's Dashboard, Brightgauge, ClickData, etc). This will allow your customers to log in to their customer portal and pull aggregate reporting on demand.
New Web Control Center
The new web control center has been available since the release of Automate Version 12 Patch 5 and each month it will be receiving improvements and new features. Currently, there is very basic functionality: the navigation window to search between clients. There is a “Computer Management” window that will give basic/tile-based information on any opened agent. The entire script and command library is available through the web portal and can be run against individual agents. ConnectWise Control is also available in the new web portal making connecting to machines faster than ever. We at ProVal highly recommend using this new web portal. It is fast and easy to use. It is not yet full-featured, but it should help T1/T2 techs get work done quickly and efficiently. To open the web control please enter in your FQDN with /automate at the end. (Example: https://msp.fqdn.com/Automate)
Updated Probe and Network Map
A still “Coming soon” update is the new probe and network map. We were able to get a full demo of the new product in the network probe breakout session. While the network map is not quite as comprehensive as what is available via Auvik, it is still a very solid native feature. There will be a nice tree-based network map built on the fly automatically by Automate. In the demo, the map loaded quite fast and seemed pretty easy to navigate. Overall, the map seems more view based for basic troubleshooting to see if there is a node down and what machines may be impacted. It should help slightly cut down on immediate escalations to Net Admins from T1/T2 techs.
The network probe is getting a facelift as well! It does seem to be an improvement with a more usable UI and better PC detection. At this time, we don't believe that pushing the agent from the probe will improve a ton and we still recommend using GPOs for agent deployments. There will be additional detection and the ability to see how many possible machines haven’t had Automate deployed properly. We’re looking forward to getting more familiar with this product as more of it is released to alpha/beta.
Automate Server Architecture. Changing the database & single sign-on.
After attending the Automate Server Architecture breakout session, we were excited about some major changes that should be coming to the product. (This portion is not 100% concrete but is where the product may be changing at a fundamental level and is subject to change.) Broken into two major sections were the changes to how the Automate database will function and then single sign-on.
ConnectWise development is researching ways to fundamentally change how the database agent works to improve speed and efficiency. Moving most of everything in the database associated to the REST API. This would change the system to more object-based than a pure SQL base. Their goal is to break the database agent into smaller pieces. This would allow several smaller pieces to communicate more efficiently. Instead of data coming into one huge building, it could go to one building that would process just what is related to that data. (It’s a bit complex to explain in one blog article!) Bottom line here is actions would execute in a “push” style instead of scheduled check-based style. This would make everything in Automate happen immediately instead of having to wait for the system to catch up. We got to see a demo of this and it looked great! We’re looking forward to seeing where the product goes.
The other topic discussed in this session was single sign-on. The goal here is to give techs the ability to login in one place and access to all their ConnectWise tools. For example, if a tech is logged into ConnectWise Manage they would be able to open up ConnectWise Automate and be immediately logged in. This is still a bit down the line, everything talked about and demonstrated came with no promises, but they wanted to show that they are working on it and let the community know that performance, scalability, and reliability are top priorities!
The Storage Craft plugin is back in action! They committed a lot of time and effort and are back and integrated properly with Automate. All versions of their products should work properly at this point, including SPX. (Image manager integration is on the way.) They have rewritten/updated all of their scripts to deploy and manage StorageCraft. Everything is available for review via the computer management window (plugins section) and there is summary information available via the Automate Dataviews. Any MSP using StorageCraft should make sure this plugin is up to date and function right away!