How has it helped my organization?
It gives us one tool that allows us to patch our systems, so we don't have multiple tools to patch our systems. We have one tool that allows us to patch multiple platforms, as well as inventory and provide insights on all of those different platforms. Also, we're currently using it for automation, so it's helping us innovate in all of those platforms, for us to look for new things and also address problems in real time. We're using it more as a platform more than we are as a tool.
What is most valuable?
I think the most valuable feature is its flexibility and the fact that there's one agent that allows you to do a lot of different things. We use it for compliance, primarily patching. Also, it becomes our master source collector for most of our information. We take that information and feed dashboards. It also helps us make decisions, so some of that has to do with compliance, as what our targets are; what we need to address, such as vulnerability leaks and that type of thing.
We also use it for inventory, like our source data. It feeds a lot of our dashboards. We actually take data from all over our company from other source systems and combine that with our BigFix data. It gives us insights on different areas that we need to target and challenges that we have that we wouldn't normally see just with one tool. We basically use it as our master source and then, from that, it helps us provide a source of truth.
What needs improvement?
I would like to see more multithreading, which I understand comes, clustering and we may end up doing some container-related work with Bluemix and lead some of that effort to allow us to scale on demand. Because there are times when you have a zero day and with our size and scale – we have a very large relay environment – it'd be nice to be able to scale on demand but as an enterprise, see it as one relay instead of several hundred. We'd like to be able to see everything be more integrated in the universe of BigFix with other tools. It seems like that's the direction it's going, in their original vision of having a single-agent type of approach, but we'd also like to remove some of the complexity by having more clustering and DR capabilities built in to the tool.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have had scalability issues because we bend the laws of the physics for the tool. For some of our reporting needs, we've had to go and take our databases and put it in big data, only because we have so many different environments that we don't have one single pane of glass way of taking all of our environments and comparing it all together. We have to take the data outside and then still leverage the tool inside to give us all of the feeds, so that we can have one enterprise view across all of our different instances. That's just because of the number of machines that we have. It doesn't allow us to just take advantage of one environment.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have used technical support. In fact, I at one point managed the technical side for the same customer. I was part of the strategic outsourcing, so I was with the customer, then I supported the customer on the IBM side and then I came back to the customer's side to help them innovate using that same tool and the same support team I used to manage. So, it was full circle.
I am happy with the support team. Actually, there are some challenges from time to time, only because our needs are a little bit more complex because of how complex an organization and how large we are. Our needs are a little bit more than the average company. We've been able to work through those challenges and become more on the innovative leader side of the tool, which also helps us to get better support because now we're going from the bleeding edge of trying to get our organization to address problems to leading the industry charge, hopefully. Maybe next year with what we're trying to do with BigFix, we might be able to present some of our findings.
How was the initial setup?
I was not actually involved in the initial setup because we've had it for over ten years, but I've helped transform it from being a tool into a platform. The technical part of that transformation was not very complex. It was more of the internal challenges, getting support, and more the political side was a little more difficult than the technical side.
What other advice do I have?
Understand where your focus is going to be. Then, based on your focus, start moving in that direction and then, don't get so myopic with your focus that you don't see the capabilities it can provide, where it can become a universal tool to help you solve a lot of problems and potential endpoint security risks. You don't want to compete in your organization with other tools that provide the same capabilities. Consolidate your efforts into BigFix and get rid of those competing tools. Put the money into the support, the services and the innovation it provides.
Openness and honesty are the most important criteria I look for in a vendor. What are the shortcomings of the tool? What are some of the challenges that others have had with the tool and how have you been able to overcome those challenges?