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BigFix Expands Server Management Products

BigFix, a provider of server and desktop management software targeted at enterprises and teh SMB market, is expanding its capabilities to manage more OS platforms, including Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008 and a variety of Linux flavors, including Red Hat Enterprise and SUSE. Big Fix can also perform patch management and asset inventory on VMs running on VMware's ESX hypervisor. Its products can also help IT manage compliance with industry-specific security standards, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC), and Defense Information Systems Agency Security Technical Implementation Guides (DISA STIG).

Before Western Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles installed BigFix management software two years ago, it basically had an ad hoc patch management system, says Nate Howe, vice president of risk management for the business. BigFix deploys a network of server agents that monitor how the servers are performing to better automate the process of patch management.

"As soon as that agent detected the slightest change on that machine, that data would trickle in over time," says Howe. "So if you said, 'Let me apply this patch to the system,' I hit execute and within a minute or two, you are watching the progress from downloading to installing to installation complete and you don't have to run any rescan." A streamlined patch management system is critical for the company, which has 400 employees, 500 workstations, 100 servers, but only two IT staffers.

Although originally known for desktop, laptop and mobile device configuration management and security, BigFix has expanded to the larger server environment. The underlying problem BigFix addresses is speed, says Jonathan Fan, senior director of product management, particularly when it comes to patch management. Small-to-medium-sized businesses can have difficulty doing server patch management because of their reluctance to take a mission-critical application off line while doing so. "What we find is that our customers are able to take our tools and it lets them move at the speed their change management processes are able to move at," he said.

Small and medium businesses often have similar needs as large enterprises around patch management, asset inventory and provisioning, but lack the financial resources for appropriate tools. "While the adoption of server provisioning and configuration automation tools is increasing, enterprise-oriented solutions continue to be cost-prohibitive for SMBs," Garter analyst Ronni Colville wrote in a research report released in February. Pricing for BigFix Server Management products starts at $48 per Microsoft Windows server seat per year. Linux/Unix is $80 per server seat per year.  Pricing varies based on functionality.