BigFix Review

An extrem powerful and lightweight solution that is fairly-priced and has excellent support.

What is our primary use case?

We use the HCL BigFix solution to provide patch-, software- and OS-image distribution services for our customers. In addition endpoint solution avcurat software, ILMT and hardware inventory. Since BigFix is base on the principle of pull, not push the administrators can afford precise information in real time about the status of distribution of patches and software.

How has it helped my organization?

The BigFix console deliver an excellent overview of all endpoints, and tasks and fixlets to be done. You do not need to click through an endless numbers of wysiwigs, one by one - With BigFix you can create dynamics group with thousands of endoints, selected by an excact numbers of criteria. When you need to do many tasks and distribute many patches at once, BigFix gives you the opurutnity to create baselinesr where you ochestras tasks to be fone to be performed in a specific order.

What is most valuable?

BigFix is base on the principle if something is relevant or not. The systems works more or less like an complex database the sends small messeges to endpoint and ask them to report back to the server. If a given condition is true, them it's relevant and server will ask the client to something It's simple as that. Therefore, BigFix is extrempower solution when it supports more than 90 diffferent OS. The system can manage whatever you you want!

"The heart of the Fixlet technology is the Relevance language that allows authors to interrogate the hardware and software properties of your managed clients using Inspectors. With the Relevance language, you can write expressions describing virtually any aspect of the client environment. Some Fixlets are simply designed to return Relevance information to the servers, but most of them suggest actions that can patch or update the client computer. The actions, in turn, also take advantage of Relevance expressions. Fixlet messages and Relevance expressions by themselves can only notify the user or the administrator. Actions, on the other hand, are specifically designed to modify the client, so there is a clear dividing line between a Relevance expression and its associated action - typically a human is required to deploy the action."

What needs improvement?

The support of other 3rd party ssytems could be better. ServiceNow is supported by BigFix - But there is a lot of other systems that BigFix could support and vice versa and make it even more powerful. With all the inventory information avout the osftware and hardware in the network of the organization - The BigFix database could be a very valuable source for other maniufactors and porviders of software and hardware.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Bigfix for almost ten years where I use the it distribute patches and software for my customers. After a while, the Windows 7 and later Windows 10 clienent become very stable. From what I have learn, IBM and HCL who owned thd product, do an wxtra quality chack of the patches before the release them. Sometimes the team behind Bigfix discover need of patches that become recommended by Microsoft many years later.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great! We have not experienced any issues. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is excellent!. The BigFix solution is organized like a pyramid with the main master server at top. From there BigFix use relays to distribute Fixlets and Tasks to the clients. You can organize your hierarchy to fit your organization. The number of endpoints should not pass 5000 clients pr. relay before you set up a new relay. The funnie matter of fact is that a relay can use workstation with a lot of disk space - It does need to be a Windows-server, it can also be a Linux server or a workstation. From my point of view, this is really remarkable, because how many endpoint management systems can handle everything from a small office with 10 computers to multitenant conglormerat with 300 000 endpoints with only one, yes 1 server? Waht you need at your backroom is a SQL-server that is able to handle all the data...

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is above average, and in fact, I would say that they have superb support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Like many other small IT-companies, I patch the clients manually or by Windows Update. When you get a lot of clients to be patched, it's impossible to do it manually. You need a tool to do the job and you need documentation what you have done and when. If patch goes wrong, you must be able to identify that one very wuick and removed before it do to much damage. With BigFix, you get control and you know excactly the status of patches. If you use tools like Microsoft InTune to do the patch job, it's like sending Voyager 2 to Pluto - It felles like the patch is lost in space and you never know if it will ever send information back home what happends. With BigFix, more than 90% of you patches will dsitrbuted at first try and report back home that they found a safe harbour.

How was the initial setup?

The documentation is good. Follow the recommended configuration by HCL and you will be up and running very soon. It's pretty easy to set up with some knowledge. Be aware that DNS-isssues can be a challenge if the server is not visible at Internet by a public IP during the initial setup. The configuration at firewall can a challenge especially to get SQL-server vissible for the BigFix-server.

What about the implementation team?

We mananged to do it by our self. 

What was our ROI?

Very high. In a short time, you will get your expenses paid back very shortly.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licens price of the HCL BigFix is very fair. The challenge is the license of the MS SQL server. If you can handle DB2 - The DB2 database server that is included with BigFix is free to use. Because the MS SQL -server express cannot be used unless demo purposes, I recommend and SPLA license for the MS SQL server wich gives you the oppuritiny to connect an unlimited numbers of clients to the BigFix server. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Other systems like Microsoft SCCM has been considered. The systems is too complex and require too many resources compared with BigFix. The BigFix server with the SQL server included could be running and on a singel portable workstation and mange the patch-management of ogf thousands of endpoint. How many SCCM do you need to do that? With Bigfix you can manage a small office with 10 clients as well as enterprise evirement with 250 000 endpoint with only one BigFix-server. 

What other advice do I have?

BigFix is value for money - You get a simple, robust, dynamic and very powerful solution for a very reasonable price. Don't for get the hidden cost compared to other tool - How many ports do you need to configure by very expensive network assistant when running SCCM? With BigFix it's enough to open only one port. With BigFix you have a multitenant solution that make is possible for you as an service provider to use BigFix to manage many customers at the same time with same server, without setting up trust between different networks. Because BigFix has it's own secure comminication between the server and the clients.

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**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: The Norwegian HCL BigFix-partner, CDS, (Commercial Data Servers), located in Oslo.
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