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I like dashboards. There is something attractive about a logical and configurable display of information, be it an overview of a project or a listing of computers, that makes me feel like I am in control of the information being presented.
So I was impressed when I got my first look at LogMeIn Central — a web-based dashboard management tool for LogMeIn’s remote control services (which Sam previewed in beta.) It is a snazzy upgrade to my old account pages with lots of configurable widgets and display options. As I started to really dig in to it, though, I realized there was a whole lot more to it than just some cosmetic changes.
LogMeIn Central provides me with a customizable view of all of the machines that are associated with my account (currently approaching 50) and easy access to many setup and configuration options. Central is an interesting product, in that it really only exists to complement and enhance the LogMeIn tools I am already using. The distinction in functionality between Free and Pro2 accounts still exists, Central just works with these services (along with VPN product Hamachi) to make them much more functional.
In my trial I saw some great enhancements in the areas of user management, detailed reporting, audit logging and inventory tracking. All are great features, but there are a few things that I’ve found to be just amazingly useful.
For machines subscribed with Pro2 accounts the alerting feature is a life saver. I can set up notifications to let me know when machines are running low on disk space, if there are changes to the hardware / software or even just oddities in CPU or memory usage. Being able to be proactive and know when issues are brewing before my customers do is fantastic.
New and easier deployment options let me send a link directly to a client or family member; a simple install adds the machine to my account for me. A drawback I always found with using the the service in the past was that I had to either physically be at the machine to do the initial setup, or use another remote tool to gain access so that I could then do the installation.
Another bit of functionality I’ve just recently begun to explore, but am really seeing great potential with, is the Hamachi VPN service. The Central interface makes it dead easy to set up and manage VPNs, including handling access requests, traffic monitoring and other auditing capabilities.
I think the key to understanding the overall usefulness of the Central product is that it makes the communication between you and the machines on your account a two-way discussion. While the Free and Pro services have always done a good job of providing remote access services, the addition of the Central layer allows these computers to provide and aggregate useful information back to you. The reporting and alert options really are intensive and useful.
The remote support / desktop sharing space is crowded. I still love the functionality built in to NTR Support Pro for providing emergency support to new customers, and I’ve been looking at the line of Bomgar products as well. I’m fairly well entrenched with the LogMeIn platform though, particularly with clients who are on ongoing maintenance programs. I’m finding these new features and the ability to group and manage all of these managed machines in one place to be tremendously useful.
If you’ve got just a couple of computers connected to your account, the value might be hard to justify at $299 per year, but if you are using the LogMeIn platform for ongoing support the additional functionality that the LogMeIn Central product adds to your existing investment may very well make sense.
Are you a LogMeIn user? How can Central help you manage your remote connections?