June 22, 2010, 9:23 PM — Fiberlink Communications thinks it can cut patch management costs for IT departments with a new cloud-based service.
The MaaS360 Patch Management from the Cloud Service uses a small software client to look for corrupted or old software patches on desktops, laptops and some mobile phones. But instead of reporting the data to a console, as in a traditional patch management system, the client sends the data to Fiberlink's cloud.
IT managers can log into an online service portal to see all employee devices and set policies for updating them. A manager can set patch updates for certain days of the week and react to alarms by quarantining users who might have unusual changes on their machines.
The service can patch Microsoft Windows software as well as Sun's Java and Apple's Quicktime. Unlike some other patch management systems, the MaaS360 service can check devices that are outside the corporate LAN.
In addition to Windows desktops and laptops, Fiberlink's offering can also check in on BlackBerry devices and soon iPhones, said Chris Clark, Fiberlink's chief operating officer. But it doesn't patch mobile phones, because phone vendors typically don't work with third parties like Fiberlink to push out updates.
The offering lets IT managers see all devices, and a variety of data about the devices, on one screen. Otherwise, an IT manager might have to check an antivirus console, a firewall system and a report on 3G wireless usage in order to monitor a single laptop, Clark said. With the MaaS360 Patch Management from the Cloud Service, the manager can see all those things for all employee devices in a single view.
Clark said Fiberlink isn't trying to go head-to-head against popular security vendors. "We aren't trying to compete on security algorithms," he said. In fact, customers can integrate patch and security offerings they already use, such as those from Symantec, McAfee or Microsoft, into the Fiberlink offering, he said.
Clark said Fiberlink's cloud offering is less expensive than most other patch management systems. It costs $60 to $80 per device, per year. Customers can also hire Fiberlink, for an additional cost, to manage the system for them.