BigFix Review

The most complete and flexible endpoint solution on the market

What is our primary use case?

Configuration and vulnerability management of a complex and varied fleet of endpoints with a single pane of glass to see what is in the environment and a single agent to remediate all discovered issues.

How has it helped my organization?

I used this product at several organizations during my career as an Endpoint Management SME from a small Windows-only fleet to extreme sized heterogeneous empires containing various Nix distros, Windows, and macOS. The more varied and complex the requirements, the better BigFix fit the bill while other solutions faded in the background. When the customer needed the capability to have high visibility over their fleet followed by fulfilling the need to address all issues found in that fleet: BigFix was able to perform. Having built-in continuous delivery content was a major time saver and increased the first pass success rate. Having the flexibility and freedom to deploy content custom-made for the environment is what enabled all use cases to be addressed.

What is most valuable?

The subscription patch content was the most useful because it made patching a lot easier, faster, and more successful than alternative options requiring prescans and custom code development.

What needs improvement?

With great power and flexibility comes a somewhat overwhelming thick console. In environments without well-designed workflows, it was sometimes difficult to bring up junior staff to high proficiency. This is being addressed in WebUI but for customers that don't invest in workflow development or staff education the ramp-up time can take longer than necessary. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I haven't had issues with stability other than that sometimes when an issue needed attention I didn't always know at first because the solution kept running. Over time I had to develop monitoring indicators specific to the customer environment where I was working so that I could get in front of an issue rather than find out later when it might have an impact. It was extremely rare that the solution stopped working and to be honest, it was network related - our fault - 99% of the time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is a place where BigFix really shines. One of the environments I worked on had over 250K endpoints on a single server. Extreme scale is a very interesting space - the issues that come up are different than at an SMB. It isn't that scale breaks the solution, but the added load means that it is important to determine what is most important to the organization and tailor the solution to fit. Details that don't matter to an SMB do matter in extreme scale, while other things that matter to an SMB don't matter in extreme scale.  

How are customer service and technical support?

Support cases were admittedly slower to solve than I would have liked. In one of the competing solutions, I used I had an email DL and just fired off a message to say that I needed help and someone would call me right away. 

In IBM there is a rich support infrastructure which does have its advantages of maintaining a lot of history and call times but the overhead can feel frustrating at times. These are the times when having a good relationship with the company and the community came in handy. In most cases, I was able to avoid needing to open a ticket by asking for advice from someone I knew. And over time when my skills developed I learned that most of my support cases were really training/skill related and the number of tickets opened in my last year of use was one in that entire year for a small defect which wasn't closed quickly but support gave me a work-around that let me keep working without too much extra effort.  

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

I've used Symantec, Microsoft, JAMF, Radia, ZENWorks, and more over the years. I always came back to BigFix. 

How was the initial setup?

I did find setting up a solution to be difficult because on that first one I wasn't willing to accept the freely offered advice from the vendor. Today, I know the solution well enough not to need the assistance but I would still accept it. Multiple minds are better than one and it's a lot of fun to collaborate on architecture - which server OS is appropriate and which DB. Based on our network architecture where should we put relays? That sort of thing. Deploying the agent is really quick and easy. Migrations are less difficult than competing solutions.  

What about the implementation team?

Implementation varied from customer to customer. The larger customers had vendor teams that worked in partnership with the technology decision maker. The smaller one was direct. 

What was our ROI?

I'm not sure how to calculate ROI but I can say that at scale the obvious choice is BigFix. Fewer infrastructure devices, high availability, and architectural flexibility made BigFix a better choice.  

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

I would advise someone considering this solution to take advantage of everything offered by the seller and sales engineer - they always seemed eager to help me be successful to reach my goals and were very generous with their time and advice. The BigFix community is also very rich and generous. It was a rare occasion when I had to "invent a wheel." Most custom solutions that I needed were already developed by IBM or available from the community - in some cases, I needed to tailor what was offered but this was not difficult. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In the extreme scale environments, BigFix was already present. In the small scale environment, I brought BigFix with me.

What other advice do I have?

When training is offered, accept it. I was able to get free training from time to time which was sponsored by the regional seller. Be a part of the community - this means to help people that are more junior than you and to accept help from those who are more seasoned. The community is very diverse, innovative, and has a lot of technical depth. Don't assume you know everything. There are regional and national user groups which are free to attend. GO TO THEM. Once you are known as a customer the familiarity and relationships you build with other customers and engineers and technical sellers become very useful and fruitful.  

My review is based on my own usage of the product from 2005-2018. I loved BigFix, the community, and the engineers so much that I now work for the supplier as the product manager. How's that for a happy ending?

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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