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IBM to acquire BigFix for configuration, vulnerability management

BigFix provides IBM with software that can identify devices that fail to meet corporate IT policies.

IBM has entered into an agreement to acquire configuration and vulnerability management vendor BigFix Inc. in a deal that the company says will bolster its data center software business with endpoint protection services.

[Tivoli is] more focused on servers and data center level things when it comes to configuration management and compliance, instead of the wider range of devices that BigFix applies to.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. IBM said it will integrate BigFix into the IBM Software Group adding endpoint management capabilities to its portfolio of data center management software.

Emeryville, Calif.-based BigFix specializes in software that detects devices that fail to meet corporate IT policies. BigFix uses agents to detect devices that don't have the latest antivirus, antimalware signatures and other vendor patches or aren't configured properly to operate on the network.

The BigFix software can recommend security fixes and timely software updates to 500,000 machines in a matter of minutes, said Al Zollar, general manager, IBM Tivoli software. Zollar called security and vulnerability management a high growth segment for IBM.

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"[Our customers] are really worried about the risk associated with these endpoint devices and looking to do things that really work to protect themselves," Zollar said. "BigFix intelligence gives the kind of visibility, control and automation that our clients say they need."

Zollar said IBM liked the design of the BigFix architecture, built on a single platform. The BigFix software also gives IT managers a centralized view of devices running on the company network. It supports Windows, Mac, UNIX, and Linux operating systems. In addition, the vendor has a large presence in the power management market with software that can power down servers and devices when they are not needed.

Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk, called IBM's acquisition of BigFix a good fit to extend IBM's data center capabilities. Tivoli hasn't been known for managing endpoints, he said.

"They're more focused on servers and data center level things when it comes to configuration management and compliance, instead of the wider range of devices that BigFix applies to," Cote said. "In that sense, they're filling a nice whitespace."

BigFix has approximately 200 employees and has more than 700 customers. The vendor's software is mainly used by large enterprises with diverse networks, said Dave Robbins, president, CEO and chairman of the board of BigFix. Robbins said the company competes with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, Symantec's Alteris line of software as well as LANDesk Software among midmarket companies.

"When you look across our customer base, it is the compliance drivers, cost drivers and risk management drivers where deploying BigFix software makes sense for big fix customers," Robbins said. "We've been working hard on building a great company and this is vindication for all that hard work over the years."

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