GridVision, a small and midsized business (SMB) IT specialist, has launched a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool that helps companies spend less time maintaining their IT environments and more time serving their customers.
When it comes to IT management, small business owners have two choices. They can either pay IT experts a tidy sum to keep their systems up to snuff, or they can become IT experts themselves spending their days manually updating and configuring their servers, desktops and Web services.
It goes without saying that neither of those scenarios appeal to businesses that are just getting off the ground. So Christian Ehrenthal, GridVision's co-founder and CEO, looked to the cloud. In his experience, most entrepreneurs are more "concerned about their growing their business and improving revenue" than obsessing over IT, he said.
Automated Windows Management
Resting on Microsoft's massive Azure cloud infrastructure, GridVision is an automation platform for small businesses and managed service providers (MSPs) that provides IT-asset and task-management and reporting capabilities in a single console. The service supports Windows desktops and servers, Office 365, Exchange and Active Directory.
GridVision uses the cloud to automate Windows IT management for small business.
GridVision eliminates repetitive, manual IT processes, essentially allowing "SMBs and MSPs to manage their Windows-based environments" in a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually. A built-in run book and templates automatically handle software updates, configuration tweaks, password resets, backup monitoring and hundreds of other common, yet time-consuming activities.
Why Windows? Simply put, the majority of small businesses have standardized on Microsoft's software ecosystem, said Ehrenthal.
GridVision addresses "80 to 90 percent of user requirements," he told Small Business Computing, at "for 10 to 20 percent of the price" of enterprise-grade solutions. Informed by Microsoft's own best practices, GridVision is not only right-sized for SMBs, but it was purpose-built for the needs of smaller organizations, he said.
Of course, every small business has its unique requirements, and a fair amount of quirks. What happens when a company's IT environment strays from the norm?
"Users can extend this platform to uniquely fit their business needs," assured Ehrenthal.
Drag-and-Drop IT Automation
Indeed, during a live demonstration, GridVision's product manager Neil Karnik, showed off how you can quickly configure new policies using the product's code-less, drag-and-drop interface. In minutes, you can automate common maintenance tasks like virus scans, hard drive defragging and even clearing the recycle bin.
The Web-based GridVision dashboard displays critical metrics with eye-pleasing charts. You can drill down into alerts, events and policies with just a click. A low-resource software agent securely links PCs, servers and other end points to the GridVision cloud.
GridVision can also help organizations reduce their power bills. Work PCs and laptops rarely need to left on all day, and truth be told, most don't need to run full-tilt for a little document processing on Word or number crunching in Excel. Customers can set policies that "power down machines after hours" or force systems into balanced power plans, said Karnik.
Even better, argued Karnik, small business owners don't have to go it alone. Forums and other community features let customers "share additional automation policies and other ideas they may have to managing their environments." A company blog, with many posts authored by Karnik himself, offers further guidance.
"SMBs don't have the operating budget to hire full-time administrators," said Karnik. GridVision and its community help fill the void.
For small businesses that can afford IT staffers, the service can help free up their valuable time for other business-enhancing projects, said Ehrenthal. "People have their IT staff wasting time by repeatedly doing manual tasks."
GridVision is available now. The free Community Edition covers 100 users and 100 devices. The Professional Edition's monthly costs come to $0.50 per asset and $0.25 per user.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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