Business Intelligence

Review: GFI Max RemoteManagement (formerly Hound Dog)

Jack Wallen examines the GFI Max RemoteManagement service, which provides tools to monitor network systems and help you manage multiple machines and sites.

How many machines do you have to monitor? And for what do you have to watch? Are you, on a daily basis, finding yourself falling farther and farther behind simply because you are having to remote in (or log in) to numerous machines to gather the necessary information? This is a problem many administrators and/or consultants face in their daily routine. It doesn't have to be that way. There are plenty of tools out there that serve as dashboards to help you to know, right away, when there is an issue with a machine.

One of those tools is GFI Max RemoteManagement. This tool can serve as your one-stop shop where you can -- at a glance -- check on the status of every machine you are monitoring (so long as the client tool is installed on the remote machine). But is this the ideal tool for your network administration needs? Let's take a look and find out.

Requirements

  • The client tool will install on nearly any version of Windows from XP forward.
  • The web-based tool can work with Firefox, IE, Safari, and Chrome.

Who it's for?

GFI Max RemoteManagement can be used by two different user groups. The first is a single company needing to monitor multiple machines - whether they be in a single site or multiple sites. The second is the consulting firm who needs to have a branded gateway with which to monitor client machines as well as allow the clients to log in and see the health of their machines. Either way you will have a single dashboard with which to monitor multiple machines.

What problem does it solve?

Managing multiple machines, sites, or clients can be a very stressful job. This is especially true when said machines are mission-critical. When clients or companies depend upon solid uptime and performance, it is your job to be able to quickly react when an issue arises. GFI Max RemoteManagement offers this in spades. With both a simple-to-use dashboard as well as email alerts, you will be much more capable of resolving issues quickly.

Key features

  • Server/Network/Website/Workstation monitoring
  • Patch management
  • Asset tracking
  • Reporting
  • System branding
  • Integration with many help desk, automation, ticketing, and other systems
  • Easy remote access with the help RDP
  • Alerting
  • Easy-to-use dashboard

Click to enlarge.

The dashboard gives you quick at-a-glance access to all of your configured machines. From here you can edit checks, remotely manage a machine, and much more.

What's wrong

The biggest issue with GFI Max is third-party application integration isn't as solid as it should be. Our consultancy uses Acronis Backup and Restore heavily, and the support for this backup is minimal. Although you can create plenty of monitors, checks, and alerts, some applications don't work in ways that allow easy integration. Another issue is cost. In a sense, you are paying for a service and not a software. So you never really own your RemoteManagement software. Instead you pay a monthly fee to use the service. This can get costly, the more clients you have.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

If you have numerous clients or numerous machines you must monitor, you need a tool like GFI Max RemoteManagement. Not only is it incredibly flexible and reliable, you can place your company branding on the tool so your clients always equate your image to that of their machines' security and reliability.

User rating

Have you deployed GFI Max RemoteManagement? If so what was your experience? Do you have any tales to tell about this management tool? If so, share them with your fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

12 comments
einfosys
einfosys

I'm very happy with the product - the remote assistance app is easy to use and has snappy performance. The integrated managed AV is extremely easy to roll out and clients with existing AV (Trend) report their status to the console nicely. The short learning curve and intuitive web interface are a big plus for a small consultancy such as ours. I'm giving MAX 4.5 stars. We have to make a decision to buy in the next few days.

jlmorris
jlmorris

After spending 30 minutes with GFIMax and the trail i had set up, i cancelled my zenith management (what a nightmare!), my few N-Able clients and the new Saas kaseya agents id deployed. i started looking for a management platform last december. ive tried pretty much all of the main players out there, but didnt have the time, nor really want a solution that came with a 500 page user manual. GFIMax is so powerful now and really does onlytake a few mins to get going. with the new updates coming out, GFI is a real contender. I highly recommend it!

gareth.eyers
gareth.eyers

We have tried several solutions and have come back to GFI. Being able to give our clients a live dashboard to view their own networks and support notes saves a lot of time. With support tickets now raised directly in connectwize from GFI, our paper trail has decreased, reporting is great and knocks hours off of the month end. But better integration for 3rd party apps is a real requirement. I do not think as an IT consultancy there is a better solution out there at this cost. Still a lot of work to do, but definatly moving in the right direction.

m.saito
m.saito

First we had a trial with HoundDog but issues with the support desk (no response) ended the trial. After being acquired by GFI, we have been proposed a new trial and since then we signed-up. We are now monitoring around 120 servers across 17 countries, level of support is great for both our account manager and the technical department. The cap-price was also a major reason to go ahead for us so we were able to know in advance what would bet the maximum monthly cost. The other major reason being just sign, configure your client / sites, deploy the agent and here it is: you have all basic monitoring running. Definitely a great product when you do not have the resources to deploy an in-house solution and being a monthly subscription, it still does not block you deploying an in-house solution when resources would become available.

Joshua1
Joshua1

The Spiceworks system is free? Anyone used it before, especially the Helpdesk and the Remote Support?

lagarto1943
lagarto1943

i used de GFI lanGuard and works fine for me, i try this too

marrio
marrio

I have been using HoundDog (now GFI Max) for some time and, for IT consultancy, it beats the competition hands down. Rather than having to log onto 20 different sites/servers every morning all the info is in one location or via an emailed report. Each customer can get their own report too. This saves so much time. It has a very small footprint on the server so the customer is not aware. More features are being added all of the time. Pricing - it is low cost and low commitment though, in the long run, this may tot up. However, as part of a support contract it is a small, high value addition that pays for itself in saved time. Also, bear in mind that this is both software and a service which comes with constant upgrades without lengthy reinstalls everytime there is a new feature. I have looked at alternatives and I have not found anything that does this for less. If anyone has any suggestions, please post them. Daniel. mtechnical IT Support www.mtechnical.co.uk

BigChrisMartin
BigChrisMartin

Hi Jack, Thanks for the positive review. If I may, I'd just like to answer a couple of your suggestions for improvement: On Acronis. This is in development right now. The aim is to have this available within a few weeks. Apologies we haven't got this as of yet, but it will be an integration like others. You simply select the product and it does the hard part of working out whether your job has completed successfully. And of course, if you've lots of installations on different sites, it makes looking at all of your customers backup problems (and others) an easy task. On Pricing. You only pay for the features you use and for customers you use them for, and additionally, we have a capped price per device. We like to think this pricing relates directly to the return you get which we think is fairer than buying some abstract number of licenses which you may or may never use. This model also avoids you paying for parts of software that you'll never use, plus its pay monthly in arrears, so you avoid capital expenditure, and it's a cancel anytime contract. Hope you don't mind the robust rebuttal on your pricing comment ;-) All the best Chris Martin GFI Software.

fdsudds
fdsudds

It's great. been using it for serveral months.

MaranathaP
MaranathaP

For single network installations, especially considering that it is free, Spiceworks is hard to beat. For MSPs or network consultancies, Spiceworks is much more difficult to use for multi-tenancy than a product such as GFI Max. GFI Max does not have helpdesk functionality, they rely on 3rd party providers like Autotask and ConnectWise. That being said, the helpdesk in Spiceworks is great. It works well, is customizable, and again is free... GFI should add a helpdesk/trouble ticket feature and wake-on-LAN (which Spiceworks also does) to GFI Max. Based on their recent acquisition of Sunbelt Software, I would imagine we'll see the Vipre antimalware line rolled in to Max soon. Having worked with them for a while, GFI is a top player in network management. Awesome products, awesome people, fair pricing. They are a company to get involved with.

brian
brian

Well said. We switched onto GFI after looking at level platforms (and being "hunted" by the other big players) after seeing the demo at the Miami AutoTask convention few months back. Excellent product. Doesn't do everything some of the big boys do, but at 1/10 the cost for 50-75% of the features and more simplicity (which means more willing to use it), I'm happy. We're rolling it out to about 30 sites and so far so good. It follows in the business style of autotask- get the basics very solid, then provide great customer service while you rapidly survey for and build up useful & desired features, without hampering core functionality. Maintain close contact with your client base (us). I applaud you guys for doing things right, and am excited to see what other tricks there are up the sleeves! :) BTW, Teamviewer is absolutely brilliant, and "free" (capped) is icing on the cake. Can't wait to try out Vipre (and it's eventual integration). Brian Effective Consulting Miami

Joshua1
Joshua1

Haven't ever used GFI, but it seems like I usually hear good things about 'em from others posts in the IT world. In the most recent Sunbelt newsletter I saw they acquired them (hope they don't change the newsletter). For a MFG company, cost is king so for my part: Thanks to the author for posting competitors and thanks to you for the repsonse.

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