Friday, January 16, 2009

MSP Offerings: Zenith Infotech vs Kaseya va Bigfix Enterprise

It's time.

The collection of little tools we use to manage our customer's networks is growing unwieldy.

Yes, there are free things out there like Spiceworks and WSUS. More tools that don't work together, requiring technician time to patch together reports and run different tools to get a idea of our networks. WSUS drives me up the wall - it keeps promising things that ultimately don't work or need a lot of maintenance to keep running. If it was just on company with a number of desktops and servers under one roof, we'd be fine - but I have multiple locations to work with.

We need something that is one interface. Ultimately like to have 1 program to run my entire business (CRM, Billing, MSP, etc). We started working towards this in 1990 when I and a partner custom coded a webserver based app to run all our time, billing, and even to poll machines for hardware configs via DMI/WMI.

Of course, the time/expense of maintaining your own custom software eventually killed that noble project, but when it was doing 80% of our work, it was very, very cool.

For now, I'd be happy with three applications: My MSP, my PSA, and my accounting software.

I have Quickbooks, and my PSA is CommitCRM, so I'm okay here so far.

The requirements for a MSP offering are:

- Centralized patch management and deployment
- Inventory of servers and desktops we maintain, including installed software
- Ability to check Anti-Virus, disk space, backup status, etc. Common flags

All from one package. It would be nice to have a script ability, and I don't care too much about remote access, as I have that taken care of already .

I've got demos for Zenith, Kaseya, and BigFix installed on a temp MSP server right now, and I'm working through their training and applications to see who does what.

I'll post updates as I progress with these three applications, and eventally choose one.


  1. Christopher, Chad from Kaseya. built a managed services solution at 4 years ago all on Kaseya. It is now one of the most successful IT Services providers in the nation. If you like I can put you in touch with people from all over the world who have chosen Kaseya as their platform. In fact 52 of the top IT Service providers in the nation use Kaseya. If you need any help at all or just want to talk to someone that is not in sales feel free to contact me. My twitter handle is @chadgniffke. chad.gniffke at kaseya dotty com also works great. Be sure to go through our demos page here

  2. Christopher, Perry from Level Platforms here. You might consider our latest release of Managed Workplace 2009 before deciding. We do everything you're looking for and more with an agentless architecture that is futureproof. Be sure to check into how each RMM solution supports virtualization, cloud, SaaS, and whether it offers you the ability to truly manage eveything in your customers environments. If you would like to learn more about the Level Platforms solution feel free to contact me - pmcdonald at levelplatforms. good luck with the bakeoff!

  3. Christopher,

    I read through your post again today (ummm, because that is what I do I guess)and I noticed you mentioned scripting as an important factor in your decision. I have seen, first hand, the Kaseya scripting engine written to "auto-heal" issues, audit Exchange servers across multiple networks, perform post project audits to insure quality control, and simple tasks like notification of viruses or spyware that the anti-virus can't remove. All of this get delivered straight to your PSA and are reportable and completely customizable. If you truly hope to accomplish proactive automation and are serious about your commitment to getting it working, Kaseya will pump you up. I had a blast doing it! Don't hesitate to contact me.

  4. We tried Kaseya, purchased a 500 seat license and the following weekend the SNMP monitor on one of our clients server caused it to crash. We had to go in on the weekend in order to get it back up. This is a problem Kaseya has been aware of for over a year and have not fixed. Also, make sure you can get access to the Kaseya forums before you decide to go with them, some interesting info there from current users. We are now using Zenith and love it.

  5. I am also looking at MSP products. My clients are small (5-25 workstations 1-3 servers all in workgroups)

    Cost and integration with CRM (commit) are important but not at the expense of functionality.

  6. Christopher - I don't know if it's too much to ask :), but I don't suppose there really is any chance you might throw Level Platforms into the mix as well...? They've obviously already reached out to you, but they happen to be the only other provider I'm thinking about going with that isn't on your list of tests!

    OK - that might be asking a little too much, but how's it going with the rest of the test? From the post date it looks like you may have gone down to take a look at all of them and never come back up for air (which anyone who's spent time evaluating MSPs can relate to).

    Looking forward to your results!

  7. Okay, this had to be thrown on the backburner because of a client emergency soaking up all my research time. It's one of the reasons I want to automate as much of my business as possible - You never know when something big will be dropped in your lap.

    As you can see, reps from the various MSP companies are quick to get service providers like us signed up - I've had great communication so far from Zenith and Kaseya. Bigfix has been decent as well.

    I will include Level as I'm curious.

    At the moment, the one thing that's really in Zenith's favour is the fact that I can just keep "trying" it by paying for a few servers. They don't have a minimum, and you start at $20/mo per server so it's really quite cheap to do an extended trial. Zenith is a full SAAS platform - nothing is needed on my end.

    Anyway, just doing some housekeeping here - more on this shortly.

  8. There are pros and cons to all the MSP vendors. Keep in mind that this not a simple install (like an anti-virus/anti-spam software) Whatever you choose, it comes down to what you put into it --- training, config, alerts etc...

  9. We're currently doing the very same research. Listening to folks saying "I used XYZ with my business, and it's now one of the fastest growing IT MS provider" is irrelevant, because both examples exists. EveronIT is a great example for Zenith, and InHouseIT for Kaseya. So we know they both work well.

    We tested Zenith and Kaseya. Here are our preliminary results:

    Kaseya installs on your own server, so you need to buy a good one that is reliable and accommodate for growth. Then you need to buy all the licenses (windows
    server, sql server, backup software, etc.). Then you need to host it (most likely a colo, because you don't want to have to buy redundant internet connection,
    redudant power and redundant a/c yourself). And you need to maintain it (software upgrades/fixes, database server, backups, etc..).
    With Zenith, everything is ready for you. No need to buy any hardware, no software, no monthly colo, no maintenance, no backups, etc. They already have the
    colos with redundant-everything.

    [THE COST]
    Kaseya is asking you to buy a whole big lumpsum of licenses at a time. Used to be 100, now it's 50. And they are more expensive than purchasing a pack of 250 or

    500. Their sales will push you to get a 500 or 1000 pack, so that you get the best price point and you don't need to re-purchase more when you grow. And you pay monthly. Their pitch is "with your first down payment, you can already deploy and charge for your 500 licenses!". I guess this is a valid point for those IT

    Firms who can find customers who will sign a managed services contract right away, for a total of hundreds of devices.. but that's not our case. Even when you

    have a large customer base, you still need to convince your customers to migrated to an MS model... If you really think about it, you always pay for more licenses than you really use, because the day you reach the exact number of managed devices than licenses, you got to go buy another one for the next customer buying a new workstation or the next customer with 10 workstations... and you'll most likely buy a pack of 250 or 500.. and there you go you have 200 you don't use yet...

    With Zenith, you only pay for what you instal. If you install 5 clients, you pay only for 5. If they want to cancel after 10 days, you uninstall it, and you stop being charged. It's as easy as that. And prices are actually cheaper than zenith if you compare the costs over a 24-months period (which is the typical lease-to-buy from Kaseya).

    Kaseya has really a lot of hidden costs.

    With Kaseya, the support/upgrades is included for the first year... but then you need to pay yearly maintenance if you want to continue being up to date (latest agents compatible with the latest OS, etc.). Also support is only available during US hours.
    With Zenith, the support is included for the price, and you get it all the time, 24h/day, via phone, chat, or ticket.

    Okay, on this one it's a tie. Both products doesn't have a good documentation that really helps you fully understand the product.

    Kaseya sells training. If you really want to get everything configured properly and understand the product well from the get go.. you got to pay thousands of extra dollars (another hidden cost). With Zenith, all training materials and webminars are free.

    Zenith just recently started their forums, and they are not very active yet. On the Kaseya side, we have not been able to test, as this is only available to pay customers, not to trial users.

    Featurewise, both companies bring the same amount of features. The sales rep from Kaseya told us that Zenith had no scripting: it's a lie, Zenith has integrated the "Automise" software into their agent, and the IDE is really nice compared to Kaseya's way to write scripts. The sales rep of Kaseya also said that with Zenith you can't setup your own agent threshold's for alerts, and that you were at the mercy of Zenith pre-defined thresholds, and that's also a lie. You can do it. We also like that Zenith can monitor Linux machines "out of the box", which Kaseya can't.

    Kaseya only integrates with one antivirus. Zenith integrates with 3 different antivirus. And you can even buy the license through them, on a monthly basis. Which means you can also start and stop the antivirus on any day at your existing customers, and you stop having to pay for it. really convenient.

    This part is difficult to evaluate. We can't look at the number of licenses sold yearly, because folks like Kaseya force you to purchase 10 times more than what you'll really use, while others charge you only for what you use, so it'd be a wrong comparison to look at that. The right number would be the exact number of agents deployed, as well as the retention rate, but we have not been able to obtain these data from the vendors.

    So.... So far, it's:
    Kaseya: 1 - Zenith: 6

    Kaseya doesn't come with any additional percs, while Zenith has a lot:
    * If you have any deployment problem, or you think an agent caused an issue on a computer: they will connect to every machine you need help with, and fix it for you, while you take care of other things.
    * If you wish so, you get a phone call for all alerts. Zenith agents will try to call you on various numbers, to get you informed that a problem occured. If for some reason your Kaseya's server has an issue, the mail server didn't work, or whatever else, unless you have a tech assigned to monitor your Kaseya's server at all times, you don't get the notifications.
    * Zenith offer the server 'care' option: for a slightly higher fee, they will remotely login to your servers when a problem occurs, to try and fix it for you. if they can't get to fix it, they'll contact you a post a ticket. i really don't mind them remoting onto the server to fix a common problem of restarting the exchange routing service, or
    * The Zenith agent comes with LogmeIn Reach at no extra cost. NO NEED to do anything on customer's firewall, logmein transverse every network as long as there is network access. And the LogMeIn agent is undoubtly the very best remote control software ever. Kaseya comes with the cumbersome and unstable VNC.
    * Zenith offers Helpdesk. With the same agents you have already installed, for a very low fee you'll be able to offer 24/7 us-based techsupport to your customers. The helpdesk agents are using the tools you already deployed, and all you have to do is fill out the secure password vault for them to access the workstations or servers to help your customers. We tried it, and our customers have been very happy with the hold time (barely any), the skills of the agents, and the great follow-up. We also get a call from the agents to let us know what happened, and whether or not we need to do something on our end. Very nice. Kaseya will recommend you some very expensive third party, but we haven't tried them (way too expensive).
    * The BDR product uses the same agent as the MS agents... So if you want to offer both, then only one installation is required. Everything fits nicely together.

    So far, we really think Zenith is a better choice, especially for starting businesses.

    Oh, btw, we ruled out Level Platforms, for 2 reasons: first of all, like Kaseya you have to buy for a large number or licenses and you pay over a 12 or 24 months period, but if you decide you don't want to use the software anymore, you still have to pay until the end, whereas Kaseya gives you an option to stop paying and stop using the software (or some licenses you might own, on a pro-rated basis), and being that it really takes longer than the trial period to really find out about all the ins and out of the software, we didn't feel confortable with it. And second reason is that on all the successful MSP companies that we researched on, they were either using Zenith or Kaseya. Might just be a conincidence, but we didn't get the feeling that Level Platform is a real player.

    Hope this will help you guys.

    And we're still evaluating....

  10. Christopher, I've actually had hands on experience with both Kaseya and Level Platforms and here's my observations.

    Kaseya: Much more expensive, abysmal pricing structure. The product is superior to Level Platforms for our uses, because Level Platforms can't monitor the state of a service or do serious scripting where Kaseya can. Kaseya "just works", where Level Platforms required constant tweaking and digging into error logs when it would just stop working randomly. Kaseya has horrible, horrible SNMP management capabilities.

    Level Platforms: Great pricing structure, especially once you get into quantity. Excellent "whole network" monitoring, manages SNMP devices like a champ. Cleaner interface.

    We decided on Kaseya, even though we lose some price-based decisions because our COGS is so much higher with Kaseya. Look into a service such as Network Depot's Virtual Administrator ( to get you started with Kaseya - that way, you get around this scam of a pricing structure that Kaseya tries to sell you.

  11. I know that this is an older post, but just figured that I would through in my 2 cents.
    I have been looking at some MSP option lately and have been looking at 3 of them, Kaseya, Zenith, and Labtech.
    I have been working with Kaseya for about 2 years now. It is a good tool. You can do what you need with it, just expect to put a lot of time figuring out how to do what you need. The documentation is pretty poor and limited. However it is very powerful once configured.
    Zenith is also very powerful, but has more documentation. It looks like a very good tool as well and is easy to use.
    Labtech is the lesser known of the group. It has some really cool features and is pretty powerful as well. It needs some time to mature, but has a lot in development and looks very promising. Plus Connectwise invested some money into it recently which makes it seem like it won’t go away.

    Kaseya support seems pretty bad as of lately. They are slow to respond, don’t understand what you are trying to say, and now you have to go through their portal and can’t email them.
    Zenith and Labtech seems to have pretty good support.

    Kaseya recently upgraded the software and it is now very slow. Even Kaseya’s ticketing system, which uses their software, is horrendously slow. It is really embarrassing that they would release it like it is. I can type a sentence and then wait 10 seconds for the text to finish showing up on the screen.
    Zenith is not lightning fast but better than Kaseya.
    Labtech is fast, but you need an actual application, not just the web portal for full functionality. This can be made portable on a USB stick so it helps, but still would be nice for a full web portal.

    Kaseya seems to be the most expensive. When I looked at the pricing, Kaseya costs as much as Zenith for their support costs once you have fully paid it off. This means that for the time that you are paying for the agents as well you are paying more. It looked like 60K more total for the first 4 years and then the same price for the following years (you have to take into account that Zenith has free AV). Labtech is the cheapest of the 3 running for about 50% of the cost. It needs some polish, but looks very good. With Zenith you have to take into account as well that you don’t need a server, that you pay as you need agents, and there is no support costs. If I buy a package of 500 and am only using 100 of them the first year, Zenith just saved me 80% over a package price.
    Personally I am between Labtech and Zenith. Zenith’s per use pricing and hosted solution are in the lead for now until I have more clients on managed services. Labtech will be a consideration later on.

  12. Thanks for the comment Ryan - It's an older post, but a burning consideration still for many of us.

    I can't remember if it was Labtech or Level Platforms I was hearing good things about at the last conference I attended.

    I know that I am still with Zenith, and I like the fact that I can bolt when I feel like it. I'll be trying to learn more about Zenith soon - Right now we get by with it, but I'm sure I could be doing more with the scripting.. then I'm going to take on something like Level/LabTech or Kaseya and put the time in to test it fully as well so I can make a proper consideration.

  13. I was just comparing the prices again for Labtech, Zenith, and Kaseya. This included antivirus since you get it with Zenith and I wanted to compare apples to apples. I also does not take into account that with Zenith you do not need a server and that you can buy clients as you need them:

    For the first 3 years for 250 clients:
    Zenith 27K, Kaseya 52K, Labtech 21K

    For each following year:
    Zenith 9K, Kaseya 11K, Labtech 4.5K

  14. Hey Ryan, break out that pricing a bit more and send it to me in email so I can check it a bit, and I'll make it a seperate post - Those are some good numbers to consider.

  15. Ryan,

    Here is a recent post from JP at

    "2. Competition Intensifies: In case you missed it, Kaseya is quietly preparing a lower-cost managed services platform called G1. It’s meant as a stepping stone to the next-generation Kaseya 2 platform. But multiple sources tell me G1 is simply a response to aggressive competition from Labtech Sofware — the RMM provider funded by ConnectWise Capital. For its part, I hear Labtech is beta testing a migration tool that may help MSPs to jump from Kaseya and other platforms to Labtech."

  16. This is an older post, but it I wanted to post in case it might still be looked at. I have used Zenith, N-Able, and now LabTech. There is absolutely no comparing the prior two solutions with LabTech. My company is now reselling the LabTech solution to non-reseller IT departments along with offering support. Very, very good product, and very reasonably priced as well.

  17. Yes, we're using Labtech now as well, so far it looks pretty impressive. Time will tell.

  18. We have been using Labtech for almost 4 years. We tested Kaseya, N-able and other solutions but none matched LabTech. The fact that we can host it at our own environment is a major plus. We do not have to worry about security. LabTech has helped us to manage more sites all over the world and customers just love it. As to pricing - No one can match LabTech. Labtech helped us to generate more income and stay profitable.

  19. We have been using Labtech for almost 4 years. We tested Kaseya, N-able and other solutions but none matched LabTech. The fact that we can host it at our own environment is a major plus. We do not have to worry about security. LabTech has helped us to manage more sites all over the world and customers just love it. As to pricing - No one can match LabTech. Labtech helped us to generate more income and stay profitable.