By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated July 02, 2010.
IBM on Thursday agreed to acquire BigFix. The acquisition sets the stage for products that help Big Blue's customers keep desktop computers more secure and compliant via automation and management tools. Financial details were not disclosed.
As IBM sees it, enterprises are challenged with making sure thousands of computers are available, secure and configured according to policies and requirements. The cost is rising to accomplish this task as security threats become greater. And companies can't afford to risk a breach.
BigFix software works to identify which devices are not in compliance with corporate IT policies and recommends security fixes and software updates to as many as 500,000 machines in a matter of minutes.
"BigFix automates some of the most time-intensive IT tasks across the most complex global networks, helping save organizations significant amounts of time, labor and expense," said Al Zollar, general manager of IBM Tivoli software. "BigFix's real-time visibility and control for globally distributed computing devices will complement IBM's existing smarter data-center offerings and strengthen our ability to build security into the fabric of the enterprise."
IBM's Internal Deployment
BigFix brings IBM more than 700 customers in industries ranging from federal, retail, entertainment, health care, education and financial services. SunTrust Bank installed BigFix software on more than 50,000 PCs, servers and mobile computers to gain visibility into its IT infrastructure across nearly 1,800 branch banks. The software helped SunTrust reduce patch cycle times from three weeks to three days and achieve a 98.5 percent compliance rate.
In its conference call announcing the deal, Big Blue said it plans to deploy BigFix internally across its more than 500,000 endpoints. BigFix software can also serve as the foundation for a data-center management service that could be lucrative for IBM, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"IBM has its own business productivity software in Lotus that these BigFix features could be incorporated into," King said. "IBM is also obviously working with many enterprise clients in the sort of environments to which BigFix is designed to appeal in support of Windows and other desktop environments."
BigFix's Big Dowry
IBM said BigFix's PC automation is an important addition to its portfolio that controls the ever-expanding data center, which includes optimization of servers, networks, storage and security; creation, delivery and management of software; and maintenance and optimization of assets as diverse as cell towers, water mains, railway cars, and manufacturing equipment.
IBM expects BigFix to contribute to its security infrastructure by consolidating endpoint protection, systems life cycle management, security configuration, and vulnerability management. Enterprises also get a single view of thousands of computers running in the data center and get real-time reporting on compliant status. Enterprises can also tap BigFix to manage power consumption with the ability to automatically configure and shut down desktops overnight.
"Sometimes when you look at corporate acquisitions like this, you talk about end-customer mapping. This is a great example of IBM buying a smaller company whose customers are mapped very well against its existing customer base," King said. "I would expect that BigFix is actually being used with numerous existing IBM enterprise customers. BigFix is bringing quite a dowry to the marriage."