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GFI Adds Cloud-Based Patch Management

In a move that should broaden the appeal of its cloud-based antivirus and monitoring service for PCs and servers, GFI Software has added patch management. The company launched GFI Cloud last year and adding patch management addresses a critical pain point for IT pros looking to ensure systems are secure.

With its Web-based interface, GFI Cloud is targeted at mid-sized companies generally with fewer than 1,000 employees. However GFI's CEO Walter Scott told me it is used by some customers with many thousands of employees. As I reported last month, GFI spun off its security business into a new company called ThreatTrack, which will target large enterprises.

Scott and ThreatTrack's CEO Julian Waits are longtime close friends and while the two companies have the same shareholders, they're separate business. ThreatTrack will continue to license the Vipre technology it inherited to GFI. But our discussion yesterday was about the addition of patch management to GFI Cloud.

Adding patch management was a natural way for GFI to expand GFI Cloud since the company already has patch management technology via its LanGuard software. "We're seeing the trends that more and more applications are trying to do automatic patching -- we've seen Microsoft have two big failed patches this year," Scott said. "If that's not a reason for automatic update, turning those types of features off, I think automatic patching is putting people at risk."

In addition, Scott warned that due to the size of some patches -- which sometimes are as large as hundreds of megabytes -- distributing them across 1,000 machines can create network performance issues. In some cases, that could be trivial and brief but in rural areas that don't have access to high speed networks, it could wreak havoc.

Scott said a growing number of IT decision makers are becoming more comfortable with the notion of using a cloud provider for patch management. "We're seeing that more and more business are giving up the control of trying to control the end point," he said.

GFI Cloud installs the company's TeamViewer, a Web-based interface that lets IT pros remotely access a system with an issue, enabling them to repair it. The new patching option provides updates to Windows, Exchange, Office, browsers, Adobe and Java, among other widely used software.

The cost is $12 per system, per service, per year, with a minimum of 10 computers.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/26/2013 at 8:50 AM


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