BigFix on Tuesday announced the availability of BigFix Discovery 7, the latest version of its systems management and discovery software that forms the basis for all of its support products.
Discovery is an end-point technology used to discover assets and also push out and install updates to the end-point system regardless of hardware platform or operating system. BigFix supports fixed or mobile systems, both clients and servers, running Windows, Unix, Linux or Macs.
One of the main claims behind Discovery is its scalability. From a single server, with some repeaters for bandwidth purposes, it’s possible to send out software upgrades to 500 machines in a company or 200,000 computers worldwide, said Greg Toto, vice president of products for BigFix.
“Our hallmark is back-end scalability,” he told InternetNews.com. Discovery is also a single agent for a number of processes. Rather than requiring separate agents for patches, software distribution, inventory, and other functions, the Discover agent waits for instructions to be sent from the control server and executes them.
“Every managed asset is continuously assessing itself for compliance, problems or issues you care about, and if your admins empower those agents to fix it, they will,” Toto explained. Changes are pushed down to computers regardless of location, “even if they are in a Starbucks,” said Toto.
Stacy Lee, a systems administrator in Stanford University’s Information Technology and Services department, said the campus started out using a single server in 2004 to manage 5,000 machines. Now it’s managing 25,000 machines and it’s still running Discovery on the same server Stanford first deployed in 2004, just with more repeaters for bandwidth redundancy.
“BigFix fit in really well here,” he told InternetNews.com. “What BigFix can do is it works in a very flexible, heterogeneous environment like ours. Everyone likes to do things their own way [at the department level]. When we were looking for something to patch Windows systems, we knew it had to be scalable and flexible, and BigFix back then fit those needs.”
Discovery can even look for software that may not be part of the official company software list. Employees have a habit of installing their own software, but with Discovery, it’s possible for an administrator to probe their entire network and find out who may be running iTunes, for example, and push down an update to their computer even though iTunes wasn’t part of the company’s system image.
It will also inform an employee if they did something to get their computer out of compliance, such as turning off their firewall or security software. The agent can then undo what was done to break compliance.
Version 7 adds several new features and functionality. While Discovery can run on a single control server, BigFix expanded it to operate among several servers to increase redundancy and scalability. The agent now supports virtual environments on VMware’s ESX Server hypervisor
BigFix also expanded its policy libraries of ready-to-implement security configuration best practices based on standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Defense Information Systems Agency Security Technical Implementation Guides (DISA STIG). Version 7 also has libraries for help desk support and for provisioning a bare metal endpoint.
Pricing for BigFix Discovery 7.0 is dependent on solution packs and policy modules.