Saturday, January 27, 2007

ESP Enterprise: Shifting the Paradigm

On Friday Jan 5th, our ESP Enterprise Manager 2.2 security software-as-a-service (SAAS) management system entered General Availability. QA reports from the field and our test labs indicate that ESP-EM is working to spec and that there are no functional bugs that warrant attention, or additional releases, prior to delivery of the next feature set.

This release is a major milestone, and not just for Authentium. Why? Because ESP Enterprise Manager represents a fundamental move away from the way network admins and CIOs have been forced to procure, configure, deploy and manage end point security software for the past fifteen years.

Currently, the typical security software procurement process involves weeks of protracted pain: internal negotiation over what to buy (brand vs. price vs. performance * number of applications required), days spent on the phone or negotiating in person with different sales reps (ditto), further days spent accumulating licenses and management and deployment technologies from multiple vendors via email, and much additional time (usually weeks) spent testing for technology conflicts.

(Note: you should hear what most security vendors say when a customer calls them regarding a system-level conflict with another vendor. It is *always* the other guy’s fault, regardless of whom you call!)

Inevitably, this pain is compounded by more: the installation of multiple versions of multiple management consoles from multiple vendors (some requiring workstations running different operating systems), multiple staged deployments to groups, punching of holes in the corporate firewall to account for multiple update locations, and retraining of help-desk staff to take into account multiple interfaces, terminologies, and multiple vendor support procedures.

Talk about pain - it was painful just writing that down. After fifteen years of experiencing that, I’m frankly amazed that there are any CIOs and network admins out there that still have their own hair.

Still, pain has its purpose. Useful inventions are almost always formed in its presence, and ESP-EM is no different. ESP Enterprise was invented to remove and/or reduce the pain points listed above. It enables vendor choice, choice of performance, and choice of price - plus the ability to buy, configure, deploy and manage applications from multiple vendors using one common management console and update server. All applications are pre-tested to ensure freedom from technology conflicts as part of our QA process.

This may sound like a commercial, but ESP-EM was designed with one objective in mind: reducing the workload involved with the above process from weeks of work to minutes. If you’re interested in trying it, there are no price barriers: ESP-EM is free. You pay only for the apps.

I was in our Network Operations Center on Friday as our IT Manager used the latest version of Authentium ESP Enterprise Manager to kick off a remote install of the FastTracker for ESP content filtering module across a subset of our network.

First, he procured the modules from the Content Filtering section of our store inside Enterprise Manager. The store then deposited the licenses into Enterprise Manager. Then he configured the settings, and kicked off the deployment.

Procurement, configuration and deployment of these client-server, enterprise-class content filtering modules to fifty remote machines took five minutes, start to finish. We had one failed deployment, because the machine was out on a sales call, but every other machine installed perfectly.

Within ten minutes of deciding to procure and deploy our modules, we were generating reports. And I can tell you, it was smiles all around - network administrators included.

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