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Vendor Briefings - 28 Feb 2006

Insights from the industry

Symantec Strengthens Endpoint Security for Enterprises
Chirantan "CJ" Desai, director of product management for client and host security at Symantec (http://www.symantec.com), briefed us about Critical System Protection (CSP) 5.0 and updated us about Symantec's endpoint security strategy, including its recent acquistion of Sygate Technologies and WholeSecurity. CSP 5 is designed to protect against zero-day attacks on servers, high-end desktops, and roaming laptops that run Windows, Sun Solaris, or Linux and mission-critical applications. CSP 5 uses policies to harden the host and controls that govern behavior relating to removable storage devices and to users' operation of the OS and popular applications. You can use a policy-authoring tool to create your own policies for applications. Agent software sits on the host and talks to a central server that manages the heterogeneous hosts. The Sygate and WholeSecurity acquisitions became final in early October and gave Symantec new security technologies—including Sygate's network access control and WholeSecurity's rootkit, keylogging, and phishing detection—to add to their portfolio of solutions.
—Renee Munshi

eEye Redesigns REM Management Console
According to Mike Puterbaugh, senior director of product marketing for eEye Digital Security (http://www.eeye.com), the company has redesigned its REM management console in the recently released 3.0 version for risk management rather than event management. REM 3 receives information from eEye's Retina Network Security Scanner and Blink Endpoint Vulnerability Prevention software deployed throughout an organization and calculates a risk score for each asset. Customers can look at asset risk by business group, geographical location, asset type, or other groupings that are meaningful to their organization. REM 3 provides a single view of the overall security posture of the network, displaying overall asset risk, vulnerabilities currently resident on the network, progress of remediation activities, attacks overview, and machines most at risk. Customers can tailor the console to display the information important to them. Together, REM 3 and Blink can help customers enforce policies and control access to the network for Windows machines.
—Renee Munshi

Adomo Voice Messaging Works for Customers
Does the recorded voice that tells you to "enter the party's extension or spell the party's name" make you want to throw the phone across the room? Worse yet, does it make your customers want to do the same? If the answer is yes and if your company has 500 or more email seats, you've probably heard of Adomo (http://www.adomo.com).

I spoke with Andy Feit, Adomo senior vice president, about Adomo Voice Messaging 5's release. The new version adds a speech-enabled Auto Attendant—no more name spelling—and lets users configure the system to forward calls to alternate numbers according to caller, times of day, and other specifics. These types of features, Andy said, "knock off the most cumbersome aspects of traditional voicemail." The product connects to Microsoft Exchange Server and Active Directory (AD) without installing any software on your Exchange or AD servers. This integration supports such capabilities as the one that lets you forward calls to anyone in your Microsoft Outlook contact list. Pricing for Adomo Voice Messaging begins at about $100 per user.
—Lisa Pere

The Software that Customer Feature Requests Built
I attended a recent briefing with Michele McFadden, product manager for UniPress Software (http://www.unipress.com), about the newest version of UniPress's FootPrints Web-based service desk software. FootPrints 7.0 lets you define field-level permissions by role and status and includes a new XML/Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) interface that provides two-way communication between FootPrints and other applications. Many enhancements, such as a new agent flashboard and enhanced scheduling matrix, seem so well targeted and useful that I asked Michele whether UniPress solicited customer feedback in refining FootPrints. Michele told me that UniPress works to integrate customer feature requests into every release of the FootPrints products. In fact, UniPress receives hundreds of customer feature requests every month. "The floodgates are open," was Michele's way of putting it. It's easy to see the influence of FootPrints customers in the product's design and capabilities: A project-focused foundation that you can customize, the ability to report on any field you add to a project, and the fact that most systems administrators need little or no assistance in mastering the program or its multiple add-ons point to software that not only serves its customers but in a real sense is driven by them, too.
—Dianne Russell

LANDesk Survey Suggests New IT Battle Cry: IT Drives Business Value
If you're like most IT managers, you believe that the role of your IT department became more strategic to your organization in 2005. That's good news, but it's tempered by the fact that you're still spending most of your time on administrative tasks—not on working with executive management on critical business operations. How do I know all this? From my recent conversation with Dave R. Taylor, vice president of worldwide marketing for LANDesk Software. In November 2005, LANDesk commissioned a survey of 500 enterprise IT managers about the strategic importance of IT to business. Dave briefed several Windows IT Pro editors on the survey results.

Survey Says . . .
LANDesk commissioned Dynamic Markets to interview 500 enterprise IT managers in the US, UK, Germany, and France in November 2005. The survey shows that IT managers believe the role of IT has become more strategic but that this progress is due to advancements in technology, rather than support from the executive level. In addition, administrative tasks dominate IT managers' time. For example, when asked which activities they engage in every day, the surveyed IT managers responded that they spend 34 percent of their time on administration and another 34 percent on troubleshooting. Only 2 percent of the respondents spend time planning and presenting ideas to executive management.

Although 95 percent of the survey respondents agree that IT's role has become more strategic, only 15 percent feel that executive management in their company has a higher understanding of IT's value. Almost 66 percent of respondents provide their company executives with formal written reports about current technological concerns such as vulnerability and compliance levels, but a mere 1 percent speaks to senior management daily.

When the survey asked what would help IT to be viewed as more strategic, most IT managers responded that resources to automate the day-to-day aspects of their job would free them to focus on long-term concerns. Specifically, 56 percent would request bigger budgets and 55 percent would request more effective software tools. Forty-five percent of respondents felt that increased executive-level support would help them become more strategic to their organization. However, 10 percent of respondents believe that nothing will help executive management gain a deeper understanding of IT's strategic role.

Where to Go from Here?
It's clear that technology is a cornerstone of success, enabling organizations as a whole to be more agile. Yet as technology increasingly drives business and business success, IT departments are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. The necessity of attending to administrative tasks and dealing with day-to-day crises drains IT managers' time and energy, leaving them few resources with which to educate and work in partnership with executive management. As one LANDesk customer expressed it, "There are five fire hats hanging in my office, and the events of the day determine which one I'll be wearing."

I asked Dave about the conclusions LANDesk has drawn from its survey, and what IT managers can learn from it. Dave quickly replied, "Number one is that IT departments must become more proactive and less reactive." I asked how this was possible, given constraints on time and energy. Dave said that senior IT management needs to begin to focus on service level agreements—SLAs: "The only way to go is to wrap IT policy around IT processes, and you must develop a central, corporate-wide view of policy. IT needs to introduce and drive the view of itself as a service provider."

"So far so good," I said, "But how does being a service provider help you win a strategic role?" Dave responded by describing LANDesk's own evolution from being a vendor of tool-fixated software to becoming a provider of policy-driven solutions. "Effective, efficient, policy-driven IT is the goal," Dave said. "Our customers say to us that more efficient and easily manageable tools deliver them from 'administrative hell' so that they can focus on raising the bar for standards-based performance and delivery." In other words, with the right tools and a standards-driven approach to providing service, you can measure and improve your performance, which gives you the evidence you need to prove your value to executive management. Or, as one LANDesk customer has described the situation, "When our company sees my IT department as ahead of the game, then we win."

Dave concluded our briefing by saying, "IT owns the responsibility of positioning itself. Successful, high-growth companies are driven by IT innovation. An attitude of 'five 9s on our Web server is OK' just won't cut it. IT's battle cry now needs to be 'We drive business value.'"

For more information about the LANDesk survey and LANDesk's policy-based IT solutions, go to http://www.landesk.com.
—Dianne Russell

TAGS: Security
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