BeAnywhere (LogMeIn Alternative) Review

BeAnywhere (LogMeIn Alternative) Review

My IT company has been using LogMeIn for many years but due to their lack of innovation and escalating costs, we decided to move – for more details, see my blog post here.  We researched options and happened upon ‘BeAnywhere’, a platform that not only offered more additional functionality than LogMein ‘out of the box’ but also – perhaps more importantly – seemed to be driven keen innovators with a responsive development team determined to push the platform further.

We’re now a month or so in to our migration, with 90% of our remote support now done via BeAnywhere.  It is, I thought, time for a review.  Here’s a simple run down of BeAnywhere, I’ll do another update at three, six and twelve months.

Pricing

The pricing for BeAnywhere is comparable with pricing for LogMeIn Central alone.  Essentially this means that using LogMeIn Central for client management but with the free and restricted client on machines was costing the same (or more) than BeAnywhere but (and its a big but) BeAnywhere comes with a big box of features as standard, features that you have to pay extra for with LogMeIn (see below).

Unlike LogMeIn, BeAnywhere allows a user to have only one concurrent login and licensing is based on the number of concurrent technician’s you can have logged in so as your staff increases, this will be a factor but for us, even starting off with a license for every technician, it was still cheaper than LogMeIn.

Features

As mentioned under ‘Pricing’, BeAnywhere has some great features fitted as standard, including (but not limited to):

File Transfer

BeAnywhere-File-TransferWhen I am logged in to a customers computer, I love being able to copy files to and from their machine without disturbing them or taking control of their screen and mouse.

A great test case for this is if you need to make changes to a users HOST file for a hard-coded DNS entry, you can just copy the file to your machine, make the changes then copy it back.  Again, this is a standard feature of the software.

The file transfer window works like most FTP interfaces you’ve used with clear panels for the local and remote folders, and a detailed panel showing a queue of the file transfers.

Additional Administrative Information

Without disturbing the user working on a remote system, its also possible to review all manner of data from the PC you are remotely accessing, including (but not limited to):

Services

BeAnywhere-ServicesYou can review all of the services running on a target system.

You have access to all the options you would if you had access the services via the native services snap-in such as stop, start and restart.

You can also change the start up type of services (manual, automatic, delayed start).

Processes

BeAnywhere-ProcessesIf you have a user complaining of poor performance on their computer, you can view their systems running processes in real time just as if you were at their PC with Task Manager open.

While that may not seem like a big deal, it means that the user can go through the motions of what they are normally doing when their system becomes sluggish,  with support staff watching the processes to see what is eating up RAM and/or processor time.

Just as with Task Manager, its also possible to terminate processes.

Event Viewer

BeAnywhere-Event-ViewerThe final great tool in the arsenal of a support technician, you can also view events from within BeAnywhere too.

Again, this provides the benefit of not tying up the computer while you are researching a problem.

The event viewer doesn’t have all the filtering options of the native windows event viewer but for most purposes its more than adequate.

Additional Tools

In addition to the tools mentioned above, the BeAnywhere Support Express tool also provides information on:

  • Drivers
  • Windows Updates
  • Network
  • Applications/Programs

 

Computer Organisation

BeAnywhere GroupsOrganising your client’s computers in BeAnywhere is very simple, with drag and drop functionality and more importantly, a tiered category system (allowing sub-categories) so what looked like this in LogMeIn:

Acme-HeadOffice-Server
Acme-Atlanta-PC1
Acme-HeadOffice-PC1
Acme-HomeUser-Laptop1
Acme-Atlanta-PC2
Acme-HomeUser-Laptop2
Acme-HeadOffice-PC2
Acme-Atlanta-BranchCache

Now works like this in BeAnywhere:

  • Acme
    • Head Office
      • Server Room
        • HeadOffice-Server
      • Main Office
        • HeadOffice-PC1
        • HeadOffice-PC2
    • Atlanta Office
      • Acme-Atlanta-PC2
      • Atlanta-BranchCache
    • Home Users
      • HomeUser-Laptop1
      • HomeUser-Laptop2

Such a simple thing can have a huge impact when you have 300+ computers (as we do)

Auto Reconnect

BeAnywhere Reconnecting Screen 2It sounds like a ridiculously simple thing (because it is) but this feature is something I love.  The number of times I’ve sat at a computer, repeatedly refreshing the LogMeIn Ignition list to see if a client is back on line (then having to scroll to find the client because Ignition’s sorting is broken and refreshing loses my place in the list).

The BeAnywhere client when disconnected simply waits 10 seconds and tries to reconnect.  It does this until it either successfully reconnects or you tell it to stop.

Support & Development

As I mentioned previously, the development team have been very responsive, helpful and open to suggestions.  Below are a few examples of my interactions with them so far:

Android Tablet Bug

BeAnywhere-Android-AppWhen I installed the Android App on my tablet, I experienced some problems and the app crashed each time.

I submitted the error to BeAnywhere and the development team got back to me within just a few days, confirming they understood the cause of the problem, apologizing for the error and letting me know the release date of the update with the fix (it was just a couple of weeks later).

The app now performs great on the tablet and I’ve used it many times to solve remote issues when in a pinch (travelling, etc.).

I was amazed really as my tablet is encrypted from end-to-end which causes problems quite a few apps and is the lesser known Samsung Tablet 10.1 Pro.

 API Ticket Update

I also contacted the BeAnywhere development team to request some changes to the ticket API – no small request really.  They were completely honest with me and said that their development team is full scheduled for the next few months but that my points would be “addressed on the 2nd semester of 2015″.  Fantastic and realistic – I will post the results when I see the updates.

Live Chat Support

BeAnywhere Support Chat 2A feature I love and was frankly disbelieving of when I first tried it is the chat support utility in the web based BeAnywhere admin centre.

I was having trouble working out how to do something and decided to give the support chat a go, I was literally instantly chatting to a support technician (no wait time, no messing about with overly complex forms, etc).

Since then, every single time I have used the support chat feature, my problem has been resolved within minutes (or as is more often the case, they have explained something to my little brain in terms I can understand!).

Whoever the team is behind that little chat window, they are to be commended.

The Negatives

Like any software platform – particularly a young one – there is room for improvement.  What follows is a list of improvements or new features in order of priority that I think would take it from a good platform to an excellent one.

Apple Mac Installation

One of our technicians described installing on Macs as “annoying and complex”.

It appears that you can only generate the Mac installation links from a Mac Tech Console, not a Windows one.

You then have to generate a link and PIN for each install separately, as the Mac Agent requires entering the PIN associated with that install when you run it.

A More Advanced API

During the sales process, I mentioned that “I’d like to integrate the ticketing system with our in-house bespoke CRM/Job Manager web application – is there a well-documented API for the BeAnywhere ticket system?” and was hoping for a full-featured API for integrating with the platform.  Unfortunately however, this is not the case – at the moment there is not one API but rather a handful of APIs with limited options.

What surprised me most is that the most useful functionality – being able to read information from the platform – was the one missing, especially given that a ‘read only’ API is much easier to build as there are far fewer security considerations.

As mentioned further down however, the development team has already scheduled updates for the API based on comments from customers – great stuff!

Ticketing

I had very high hopes for the ticketing system and was keen to use this, in conjunction with the API, as our primary means of accepting and managing support tickets.  Unfortunately the ticketing system as it stands is a little limited.  I summarised thus:

  • At the moment, the BSE client doesn’t seem to show support tickets
  • No notifications from BSE when a ticket is created
  • There doesn’t seem to be anywhere to see which technician currently ‘owns’ a ticket
  • Without an API, we have to re-enter all the ticket information in to our billing platform to be ble to charge the customer
  • No ticket prioritising

In their defence, the BeAnywhere development team got straight back to me saying that while they agree they are valuable features, the team was concentrating on other core development at the moment to implement them.

One Click Login from Entered Credentials

One area that LogMeIn Ignition still has a jump on the BeAnywhere client that it will use the login credentials you entered to connect to a machine to log you in that machine’s lock screen with a single click – this is a real time saver.

Save Login Credentials

LogMeIn Ignition also – admittedly not very reliably – stores login credentials for clients if you wish.  While obviously security is a concern, as long as my password is used as the basis for the encryption key used to encrypt the passwords, I don’t see it being a big worry.  For particularly sensitive systems (servers for example) I would store the details.  Again, when I mentioned this to BeAnywhere, they said this is in the future feature list.

Update Aware

One of the few things I loved about LogMeIn was that it was aware of which computers had outstanding critical updates to be installed.  For a small IT company, this is a great way to ensure managed services customers are up to date and also a great way to drum up business for non-managed services customers.

Unfortunately at the moment BeAnywhere doesn’t seem to be update aware at all.  The BeAnywhere client can poll the windows update system to retrieve update statuses but this is very slow because its not done during CPU idle time and then cached (which would be great).

The latter change to the client would mean update information was available in a flash in the client and – more importantly – this update status could be fed back to the main BeAnywhere console/server to provide alerts, prompts and update based reporting.

Imagine – you could get an email when a customers PC has a critical update that needs installing.

Summary

So in summary, given the choice would I move to BeAnywhere again knowing then what I know now?

Definitely.

The platform is strong, with a great development team and excellent support infrastructure.

I’m frankly blown away by the positive attitude from every member of staff I have had any contact with, whether it be sales, support, development or management.  They clearly have a great company culture and team.  This sort of intangible is huge factor in a burgeoning company like this, I get the distinct impression that the team there has Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness as their bible.

As I’ve said before, you get a measure of a man or a company not when things go right but when you encounter problems.  A reaction to a problem tells you more about who you’re dealing with and what you can expect than a thousand friendly transactions and here BeAnywhere have stood up very well (and believe me, I’ve bombarded them with stupid questions).

If I were a betting man, I’d buy shares in BeAnywhere right now as I think the product and company are only going to go from strength to strength.

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BeAnywhere Remote Support
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Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob McKay works at Perfect Image, is a father, programmer and a self confessed techie-geek type.

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3 comments on «BeAnywhere (LogMeIn Alternative) Review»

  1. maria JJF says:

    Hi Bob This is a good review. My Logmein Account expires in 2 weeks.
    I am remote based most of the time so I wonbdered if I was to go over to be anyware
    First I deal with Macs so would I be able to install the relevant BA software remotely if I use Logmnein whilst its still valid?
    Second, An EG. If an example. My client emails me to say they have a problem on their Mac. Normally I would LMI Control POanel and log in free will. CAn the same be done on BAnywhere?
    Third: Do they , BA, Log you reports of Time and what machine etc like Logmein does on its Filter report viewer area?
    Any help as I am fretting and I have 15-19 Clients on mine. 12 of them have been free and I paid a 10 User subscription which was #275 now renew is £700 special discount deal and thats only for 10 Users I think. Their Add was a bit vague, see here You have 12 complimentary LogMeIn Pro computer subscriptions that will expire in 14 days. At that time, any computer that is not part of an active LogMeIn Pro subscription will appear as disabled within your account. If you would like to continue accessing these computers, you will need to upgrade to a larger package.

    Currently you have access to 22 computers. After 12/25/2015 , your account subscription will be renewed at list price for 10 computers. To ensure uninterrupted service to all of the computers within your account, as well as gain access to a discounted rate for your upgrade, please click on the button below. To stay in your current bundle, no additional action is required.” You sound in the know so would like the heads up less techy though on this Be Anywhere. Thanks for anytghing in advance. Maria

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Maria,

      I’ve answered your queries by number:
      1) Yes you absolutely can install the software remotely – we have done 90% of our migration to BeAnywhere that way.
      2) Yep you can login without the customer having to confirm your session (they can be away from the machine) provided you have an account to authorize on the target machine
      3) Not sure what you mean in terms of time? BeAnywhere tells you things like, when the machine was last online, when you last accessed it remotely, etc.

      We’ve been using BeAnywhere for many months now and the built-in features that you pay a premium for with LogMeIn are fantastic (command line interface, file transfer, deep OS information)

      Hope this helps!

  2. steve C says:

    thanks for the review – I’m switching!
    I canceled my subscription to Logmein!  I was a loyal customer since 2006. 

    My anual payments to Logmein for a pro account.

    Dec 2013 = 43.50
    Dec 2014 = 70.71
    Dec 2015 = 86.67
    Dec 2016 = 162.22

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