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BigFix Delivers New System Management Tool

System management software vendor BigFix, now part of IBM, has introduced a new version of its Unified Management Software Platform, which aims to keep multiple elements of an IT infrastructure secure and in compliance with regulations and corporate IT standards. Version 8.0 of the management platform provides one dashboard view of all the PCs, laptops, servers, point-of-sale terminals--physical or virtual--on a network. It also identifies devices that are out of compliance so that they can be fixed.

Among the new features of the platform is improved virtualization management, which allows all physical servers, and the virtual servers operating within them, to be seen. There is also a new role-based interface that arranges IT assets according to functional areas such as endpoint management, security, audit compliance and other roles. The goal in designing the interface for each role is to make it easy to understand with tools appropriately suited to each task, says Jon Fan, senior director of product management for BigFix. Within security, for instance, the anti-virus interface is designed one way, but the patch management interface is designed another. Fan analogized it to the different parts of an e-mail program where features like calendar, contacts and messages each have their own look, but are all part of one e-mail system.

This is the first BigFix product announcement since IBM's acquisition was completed July 20. BigFix will operate within IBM's Tivoli software business. The software, which was previously available only in English, Simplified Chinese and Japanese, is now also going to be translated into French, Italian, German and Spanish. IBM says the Unified Management Software Platform 8.0 will expedite client migration to the new Microsoft Windows 7 operating system introduced last year. In addition, BigFix now supports 70 operating systems, including SUSE Linux, HP-UX, Oracle Enterprise Linux and CentOS.

This new version of the BigFix platforms offers better usability compared to previous versions, says Ronni Colville, an analyst with Gartner. "This product had a lot of functionality, but it was more for somebody who could build it and who could take advantage of it. What [version 8.0] provides is a front end that is more logical and more usable for a generic user," Colville says.

Also notable is that the BigFix platform delivers PC configuration management, server management and security management, whereas other solutions only offer one or the other, Colville notes. PC management is offered by companies such as Microsoft or HP, while
companies like EMC do server management and companies like VMware and
Tripwire offer security management. "BigFix is like a Swiss Army Knife as they address a bunch of different markets."